UCLA coach Ben Howland has had a love-hate relationship with freshmen in the past.
Sometimes tantalized by their talent, often piqued by their potential, always frustrated by their frequent flubs, Howland has sometimes been reticent to rely on them in the past.

Norman Powell is no different.

Powell followed four straight off-nights with nine points in 21 minutes in the Bruins' 75-58 win over Arizona State last week at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Not exactly jaw-dropping numbers, but a massive leap from the combined 4-for-22 shooting that plagued him in the team's previous four games, in which he scored two points in every game.

"He's a freshman," Howland said, matter-of-factly. "He's learning and he's figuring things out. You get to conference, and it's a different level. The level is raised even higher because of intensity."

Every so often, UCLA fans get a glimpse of Powell's future, particularly on a breakaway dunk or alley-oop, when the team's highest flyer takes off.

"I don't care about that, but he is definitely our best dunker," Howland said. "He really is. He has a great body. One thing about being a freshman, he's learning a lot - but he also has this body that doesn't wear down. He has this live, active body."

Wears up

Howland was pleased to see the increased production of the Wear twins in the Bruins two-game winning streak.

David and Travis Wear combined for 58 points and 26 rebounds in back-to-back wins over Arizona and Arizona State, and Howland credited the duo's aggressiveness against the smaller competition.

"Just more physical on both ends of the floor," Howland said. "Defensively, (they were) bumping bodies and blocking out aggressively. I thought the same thing about them posting up, they did a real good job of posting up and being really aggressive going to the basket."

Breakout party

The Bruins are anxiously awaiting sophomore center Joshua Smith's breakout, which got off to a good start with his 18-point performance against Arizona State.

"He's just breaking the surface really," David Wear said. "If he played with high intensity and as hard as he could every moment, he could be probably be one of the most dominant players in college basketball for sure."