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.
May 19, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT
One byproduct of conference realignment has been the rebranding of some leagues, mainly to display the charting of a new path. That’s the case for the Sun Belt Conference, which will welcome multiple new members on July 1. The Sun Belt unveiled new primary and secondary logos on Sunday, as well as its new mantra…
May 19, 2013, 6:21 PM EDT
Following the departure of four seniors (not counting guard Jio Fontan) and the decision of center Dewayne Dedmon to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, it’s safe to say that first-year USC head coach Andy Enfield is in need of some front court depth. USC’s most experienced returnee next season will be 7-2 center Omar Oraby,…
May 19, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
For all the accolades heaped upon Kansas signee Andrew Wiggins (and deservedly so), Parade Magazine went with another player for its 2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Semi Ojeleye, a Duke signee from Ottawa, Kansas, averaged more than 38 points per game this season while also getting the job done in the classroom to…
Fellow student and fraternity brother charged with disorderly conduct in assault of Brown guard Joseph Sharkey
May 19, 2013, 3:04 PM EDT
The story continues to unfold on the assault of Joseph Sharkey, a sophomore guard on the Brown University baskstball team, who was found in critical condition in the early hours of Sunday morning (May 12th) with an injury to the head. According to the Providence Journal: Dillon J. Ingham, 22 of New York, was charged…
May 19, 2013, 1:47 PM EDT
Steve Donahue and the Boston College Eagles nearly have their non-conference schedule for the upcoming season set in stone. It was recently reported by BC Interruption that Toledo, Sacred Heart, and Philadelphia University were added to the home slate. Not exactly three teams to get overly excited about, especially with Philadelphia U being a sub-Division…
May 19, 2013, 12:29 PM EDT
As teams begin to solidify their non-conference schedules for the 2013-14 season, it has been reported that UCLA will host Alabama next season with the Bruins traveling to Alabama the following year. Anthony Grant may have his best team in next season his fifth in Tuscaloosa even with Trevor Lacey transferring out of the program.…
May 19, 2013, 11:21 AM EDT
When Lipscomb completed their search for a head men’s basketball coach this past Friday evening, it was supposed to represent the end of the coaching carousel for 2013. However, the Bisons poached Casey Alexander from fellow Atlantic Sun school Stetson, so now that leaves the Hatters as the final Division 1 school remaining without a…
May 19, 2013, 10:09 AM EDT
Yesterday, news broke that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was in discussions to return as the USA Olympic men’s basketball coach through the Rio 2016 Olympics. On a smaller scale, earlier last week the Providence Journal reported that Providence head coach Ed Cooley will join Marquette head coach Buzz Williams and Tim Ryan, head coach from the College of Central…
May 18, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
There has been a lot of change at Arizona over the past few months, with several players and even a coach leaving the program. Replacing assistant James Whitford, who became head coach at Ball State, was easy: Wildcat legend Damon Stoudamire came back home to round out the staff. But the personnel situation on the…
May 18, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Former Baylor player and current WNBA top draft pick Britney Griner made it quite clear recently that she has no problem talking about her sexuality. She spoke with Sports Illustrated shortly after her college career ended, and was candid about something that is, frankly, not really anybody’s business. We now know why she never mentioned…
May 18, 2013, 4:46 PM EDT
The Atlantic Sun tournament was played in front of a near-capacity crowd at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena last March. Hawkins was chosen as the tourney site ahead of time, and the whole event played out there. The reported crowd of 4,394 was packed with Mercer fans who simply had to roll out of bed and find…
May 18, 2013, 3:42 PM EDT
Since he led Team USA to a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has maintained that it would, in fact, be his last run at the head of the USA Basketball program. That may be changing, however. According to a report from Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, Coach…
May 18, 2013, 2:32 PM EDT
Adreian Payne was a special guest at Dick Vitale’s celebrity gala on Friday night, but he wasn’t the star of the show. Lacey Holsworth was. If you haven’t heard the story by now, watch the video above. In short, Payne has befriended a seven-year girl, Lacey, who has been battling cancer for much of her…
May 18, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
After appearing in only four regular season games and registering five minutes of playing time with no statistics, Georgetown forward Brandon Bolden has opted to transfer to Kansas State, the Wildcats announced on Friday. The 6-10, 210-pound Bolden will sit out the upcoming 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of…
May 18, 2013, 12:12 PM EDT
Lipscomb has finally replaced long time head coach Scott Sanderson, as they hired Stetson head coach Casey Alexander, according to a report. Alexander led the Hatters to a 15-16 record last season, as they finished 11-7 in the Atlantic Sun. Both records were the best for the program since the 2008-2009 season. But here’s where…
May 18, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
Oregon State picked up a late 2013 commitment when 6-2 combo guard Malcolm Duvivier opted to sign his letter of intent on Friday after previously being a member of the 2014 class. Duvivier — a native of Toronto — was previously regarded as Rivals’ No. 116 player in the 2014 national rankings before filling an…
May 18, 2013, 10:02 AM EDT
Tennessee sophomore center Yemi Makanjuola has opted to transfer to UNC-Wilmington, per a Tweet from Brian Mull of StarNews. Makanjuola — a 6-9, 250-pound native of Nigeria — will have two years of eligibility remaining after NCAA transfer rules force him to sit out next season. Makanjuola will be eligible in the 2014-15 season and saw action…
May 17, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
One month after making the decision to return to Washington for his senior season, second team All-Pac-12 selection C.J. Wilcox underwent surgery on his left foot to stabilize a stress fracture that according to the Associated Press lingered for much of the 2012-13 season. The purpose of the surgery was to stabilize the fifth metatarsal…
May 17, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
Last May 6-7 forward Sheldon Jeter chose to attend Vanderbilt, picking the Commodores over Penn State and Wisconsin and South Carolina with Pittsburgh showing some interest late but never offering the Beaver Falls, Pa. native. Jeter played 17.5 minutes per game as a freshman, averaging 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. And after one…
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