Jan 25, 2013, 12:04 AM EDT
Shabazz Muhammad went for 23 points and Jordan Adams added 15 as UCLA went into the McKale Center and knocked off No. 6 Arizona 84-73 on Thursday night.
It was as impressive of a performance as we’ve seen out of this Bruin program since Ben Howland led them to their third straight Final Four in 2008. UCLA jumped out to a 19-3 lead before the second TV timeout and never let the Wildcats get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Thoroughly beating a team like that on the road is impressive on its own. But UCLA did it while Travis Wear, arguably their most important player since Howland turned UCLA into a running team, spent the end of the first half and the entire second half sitting on the bench with a concussion. It also deserves mention that Adams was dealing with what UCLA termed cramps during the second half.
And UCLA still didn’t buckle as Arizona made a second half run in front of a raucous home crowd.
Oregon has to be considered not only the favorite to win the Pac-12 this season, but also the best team in the league this year. Not only do they have a two game (or more) lead on everyone in the conference other than UCLA, they’ve already beaten Arizona and UCLA. This win over UCLA came on Saturday in Pauley Pavilion. And the Ducks won’t face either team again this season. It’s their title to lose.
But I don’t think the Bruins are all that far off their pace.
The bigger question mark is with Arizona.
The Wildcats have an impressive computer profile in both the RPI and Kenpom. They have an impressive record and some impressive wins this season. But there are issues when you look past the box score.
For starters, Arizona’s only dominant win over a relevant team came on Saturday at Arizona State. When they beat Long Beach State, the 49ers didn’t have their transfers eligible yet. Florida gave away a win when they decided to commit consecutive turnovers in the back court and miss a front-end in the final minute. Colorado blew a 10 point lead in the final four minutes and had what should have been a game-winning three waved off. Miami was playing just their second game without Reggie Johnson in the lineup. (Arizona made a comeback in the San Diego State game as well, but I thought they played well in that game, so I’m leaving it out of this discussion.)
Those four wins, as a result, are going to look much better on paper than they did to the naked eye.
And well the eye-test is far from a scientific method, it is enough for me to be concerned about the Wildcats.
For starters, Arizona has a number of solid pieces on the offensive end of the floor, but they don’t have that one guy that a coach is forced to game-plan around. There is no Mason Plumlee or Doug McDermott. They don’t have a Trey Burke or a Russ Smith. There isn’t even a guy like a Shabazz Muhammad or a Jordan Adams, someone that will scare opposing coaches.
That’s not a crippling issue, and neither is the fact that the Wildcats are playing this season without a true point guard. I like Mark Lyons. I think he’s a good player and a good scorer. But he’s not a point guard. He’s not a facilitator, creator or leader. He had 16 points tonight, but he also shot 6-17 from the floor and had five turnovers and no assists. On the season, he’s now averaging 15.2 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 turnovers. Again, that would be fine if the Wildcats had a Draymond Green or a Grant Gibbs on their roster, but they don’t.
Arizona is not a bad basketball team.
They’re good. They have enough talent that finishing outside of the top three in the Pac-12 would be a major disappointment, and they’ve proven that a) they never give up on a game, and b) they have the moxie to fight back late and win a game in crunch.
But their record is deceiving.
Hypothetically speaking, if Kenny Boynton doesn’t choke, Sabatino Chen’s shot counted and Nick Johnson misses the block against Chase Tapley, how would you view the Wildcats?
Because it shouldn’t be all that much different than how you view them now.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
Jun 18, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
Kansas commit and consensus top high school player Andrew Wiggins decided not to play for the Canadian Under-19 team this summer at next week’s FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. That hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-7 Wiggins from impressing this summer. According to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, sources confirmed that Wiggins participated in his first…
Jun 18, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT
We’ve dissected the position that Aaron Gordon will play at Arizona far too often this offseason. Maybe, instead of worrying about whether he’ll be a three or a four, we should sit back and appreciate the fact that he can do this: I mean … I just … wow. Oh, there’s a better angle, too:…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
Ever since Ed O’Bannon first filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of his likeness in a video game back in 2009, there has been scuttlebutt that the outcome of said lawsuit could end up playing a major role in the way that college athletics operates at the highest level in the near…
Jun 18, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT
One of the big names to keep an eye on in the Class of 2015 is one of the biggest players in the class: 6-foot-11 Stephen Zimmerman. A native of Las Vegas who plays his high school ball at Bishop Gorman, Zimmerman is a lanky left-hander that can score with his back to the basket,…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT
Florida head coach Billy Donovan made the final cuts to the U19 Team USA team on Monday night, getting the roster down to 12 players. The best known player on the team? Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who will likely enter the 2013-2014 season as a preseason first-team All-American. Duke sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, incoming Arizona freshman…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:41 AM EDT
Jermaine Marshall has had a change of heart. Last month, Marshall announced that he would be leaving Penn State with the intention of going pro, but he’s had a change of heart. Marshall, who didn’t sign with an agent, will graduate on August 10th and has received a release from the Nittany Lions. He’ll be…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:58 AM EDT
How badly is Greg Whittington injured? That’s the biggest question facing Georgetown heading into the summer, because at this point, we know that Whittington is dealing with some kind of a knee injury. Late Monday night, Casual Hoya reported that Whittington was hobbling around on crutches. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com and Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:28 AM EDT
Through 12 games in the 2012-13 season, Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum had done nothing to dispel the notion that he was one of the nation’s best players. With averages of 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game to that point in the season, McCollum was leading the country in scoring and well…
Jun 17, 2013, 11:01 PM EDT
Keith Hornsby, the sophomore guard from UNC Asheville, took to Twitter to announce where he will spend his final two years of eligibility. #letsGeaux!!!!!!! – tweeted Hornsby on Monday night The 6-foot-4 sophomore picked LSU almost three weeks after announcing he would be leaving UNC Asheville following the departure of head coach Eddie Biedenbach. Hornsby was…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:13 PM EDT
One of the nation’s top rising seniors Rashad Vaughn has decided to leave Robbinsdale Cooper High (Minn.) in favor of prep school for his final season. Vaughn has been debating about whether or not to leave Cooper for months. “The kid has to move on and do what’s best for him,” Vaughn’s mentor Pete Kaffey told the Pioneer…
Jun 17, 2013, 8:50 PM EDT
North Carolina guard was arrested on June 5. It’s been almost two full weeks since the incident occurred in Durham, and for the first time since the arrest, Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams spoke about his leading scorer. “We are doing one thing: We are waiting until all the information comes out,” Williams told…
Jun 17, 2013, 7:40 PM EDT
Florida has already started its incoming class for the fall of 2015. On Monday evening, sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes (Suwannee High/Live Oak, Fla.) committed to Billy Donovan and the Gators. This early commitment was first reported by Evan Daniels of Scout and then later confirmed by coach Martin McCann of Nike Team Florida — Hayes’ AAU team. According…
Jun 17, 2013, 6:50 PM EDT
The championship rings of former Kentucky Wildcat Walter McCarty are now up for sale on eBay. McCarty, a member of the 1996 National Championship team is having both the ring given to the team by the NCAA and the ring presented to the Wildcats by the University of Kentucky are both being auctioned off with…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT
Alabama’s second-leading scorer Trevor Lacey has decided to transfer to North Carolina State, according to PackPride.com. He will have to sit out the 2013-2014 season per NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility left. In April, Lacey had elected to leave the Crimson Tide program after two seasons. He was considering Wolf…
- This week is a very important week for Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA 0
- A broken foot failed to derail C.J. McCollum’s trek to the lottery 0
- The most important skill Michael Carter-Williams learned as a freshman? Work ethic 0
- Aaron Gordon: ‘Whatever Coach Miller wants me to play, I’ll play it.’ 0
- Bruce Pearl could have starred in Welcome Back, Kotter in the 1970s 0
- Heat force Game 7
- PST: On-fire Altidore lifts USA over Honduras in WCQ
- CSN: Patriots' Hernandez questioned in murder investigation
- CSN: Bruins' defense never rests in Game 3 win
- CSN: Celtics-Clippers KG, Rivers trade talks dead
- Lolo Jones' attempt at humor backfires
- PFT: Freed Johnson wants second chance in NFL