Sunday, December 30, 2012

ESPN Player of The Week: Shabazz Muhammad

ESPN on You Tube

ESPN Player of The Week: Shabazz Muhammad

Published on Dec 29, 2012
Andy Katz discusses Shabazz Muhammad's performance in UCLA's OT win over Missouri propelling him to Player of the Week.

Thanks, TheProfessor, for posting this on BZ.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

SG Shabazz Muhammad - Early season UCLA highlights

SG Shabazz Muhammad - Early season UCLA highlights

jarodger1212 on You Tube

Published on Dec 13, 2012

Accompanying description:

"Here is a bunch of clips I threw together of Shabazz Muhammad from the games and highlights I've been able to find on the internet, from the Georgetown, Georgia, Cal Poly and Texas games. Song is 1000 Ships... Underworld by Two Steps from Hell"

UCLA handles #7 Mizzou in OT 97-94

I updated this post 7:31 AM Dec 31, 2012

What a game to watch from beginning to end! Against a legit top-10 team, no less. This is some serious ink on our tournament resume or serious positive movement on our RPI/Sagaran numbers!!! Congratulations, UCLA!!!

What makes this game so particularly sweet is, since I don't have cable, I usually never get to see UCLA play, apart from watching them live* or from watching videos that Big J/Roswellbruin uploads on the web for all Bruin faithful (Thanks, Big J!!!).

* This year, I watched them lose to SDSU. My kids and I had face-paint and all, trying to get on ESPNU, but to no avail. The black & red were well-represented that day. I mean, there were Bruin fans there but they were either too young [like my 8 and 12-year old kids], or too old to cheer with much fervor/gusto like starving/basketball-carzy students. Definitely no match for the Aztec tribe or whatever they call their fans. We need students at these games! Even the Aztec faithful were chanting "Where's your students?"that night [looks like wrong English but it still stung]. I mean, the section right behind the Aztec basket, usually reserved for students and the band, was practically empty while the SDSU side was filled to the rafters it seemed.

But since we were on the road this yuletide season, one of the perks of traveling is we get to watch cable in our hotel room! And we (me and my two kids) got to watch Shabazz and Travis W play lights out! My kids were really in to this one, too!!! We were screaming our heads off in the last few minutes of Reg and in OT when UCLA finally caught up with Mizzou and started pulling away.

It's been said before, I also see James Harden in SM's game, especially the 3-point shot. The release seems slow, deliberate, yet SM gets it off and makes it most  of the time.  

And David W, Kyle, Jordan and Larry put in some great work tonight, too, boy!

I am still waiting on Norman Powell and Tony Parker to join this par-teeeeeeeyyyyyy!!!

I apologize at the get-go, for any typos/format issues, since I am doing this on my laptop.

But it looks like the team is gelling really well.

I love how the team has not said (as far as I know) anything negative about all the trials and tribulations they have gone through (the losses, Joshua and Tyler leaving the team, having to still be working on their defensive schemes this late in the season), especially the freshmen.

I think it wouldn't have been surprising (& they could have been forgiven) if they spoke about being disappointed with how their college basketball careers have started, of whether they made the right choice in coming to UCLA or why they are not playing high-flying, highlight-type basketball. None of that. The freshmen are all business. I would not have been surprised if Shabazz had said something critical, he is currently playing the way he has been billed, a legit one-&-done (please, come back!!!). But he is all gentleman about the whole thing and has not spoken a single critical word for Coach B, his teammates or UCLA.

So, thanks, Jordan, Kyle, Shabazz and Tony. Thanks, guys, for keeping your heads up, working hard, listening to Coach B and not saying anything negative all throughout this growing process.

And thanks to the guys that stood by UCLA, David, Travis, LD3 and Norman and doing some serious, unselfish work for the team.

OK, bring on Monty/Cal and get this PAC-12 season started already. Let's go, UCLA! Zona was picked to win the league so let's SHOCK THE WORLD (apologies to another Muhammad, Muhammad Ali and Juwan Howard)!!!!

OK, onto the news of the day...



Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Upsets No. 7 Missouri In OT
Shabazz Muhammed sinks the go-ahead 3-pointer along with a career-high 27 points, lifting UCLA to 97-94 win over Missouri.


Dec 28 2012
Associated Press via ESPN Los

LOS ANGELES -- After two defeats to ranked opponents and a surprising loss to Cal Poly that knocked them out of the Top 25, the UCLA Bruins are starting to find their way.
Highly touted freshman Shabazz Muhammad hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime to help them upset No. 7 Missouri 97-94 on Friday night and extend their winning streak to five games.

"This is one of the biggest wins we could possibly get," he said. "We're right back where we want to be to start Pac-12 play."

Travis Wear, who finished with a career-high 22 points, added a jumper with 12 seconds remaining to close out the Bruins' first win over a top-10 nonconference opponent since 2007.

"I wanted to put it all together this game," he said. "Throughout the season so far, I haven't played particularly well. I tried to go out and bring energy."

Muhammad tied his career high with 27 points, David Wear scored 16, Jordan Adams had 12 and Larry Drew II added 12 assists for the Bruins (10-3). They had earlier losses to ranked Georgetown and San Diego State, while wins over Texas, Prairie View A&M, Long Beach State and Fresno State had failed to get them back into the Top 25.

The Bruins practiced on Christmas night, forcing three players to miss the holiday with their families.

"They practiced really good the last three days. It's an attitude," coach Ben Howland said. "I'm really happy with how our guys kept fighting."

Phil Pressey missed a 3-pointer with 5 seconds to go before Laurence Bowers grabbed the rebound and missed a 3-pointer in front of the Tigers' bench as time expired.

"The play was for Earnest on a screen, but Phil took the shot off a ball screen action and he didn't make it," Missouri coach Frank Haith said.

Pressey finished with 19 points and a career-high 19 of Missouri's 21 assists, including all 12 of his team's in the first half. Keion Bell and Bowers had 17 points each, Earnest Ross added 16 and Jabari Brown had 14 for the Tigers (10-2). They were playing their first true road game of the season but had a vocal group of fans among the 11,854 at Pauley Pavilion.

"The Wear twins played great. Shabazz played great. They had a lot of confidence," Bowers said. "I don't think we executed our game plan. We shot ourselves in the foot with certain plays."

Scrambling near the baseline, Drew found Muhammad on the right perimeter and hit him with the pass that led to the winning basket, his second 3-pointer of overtime.

"I'm really comfortable. I like taking the big shots," Muhammad said. "Larry trusted me on the shot and I just hit it."

His first one gave the Bruins a 91-88 lead before Brown tied it with a 3-pointer, the Tigers' season-high 12th of the game. He had four of those.

Ross got fouled with 45 seconds to go. He missed the first and made the second to draw the Tigers within one before Travis Wear's last basket. The Tigers blew an eight-point lead with 4:04 to play in regulation.

"We made some really gambling plays and that really cost us," Haith said. "We need to learn how to finish a game out in the last three minutes."

As the nation's top rebounding team, the Tigers controlled the boards, 50-36, but they committed 17 turnovers that led to 36 points by the Bruins.

Adams' layup tied the game at 88 with 11 seconds to go in regulation. The Bruins were forced to foul, and Adams grabbed Pressey and flung him to the ground with 4 seconds left. Pressey lay briefly before getting up.

After a timeout, Brown's jumper missed and Travis Wear came up with a block when Bell went for the offensive rebound as regulation expired.

The team's traded runs in the second half, with the Bruins ending on an 11-2 spurt to force overtime. Missouri preceded that burst with 12 straight points of its own to turn a three-point deficit into an 86-77 lead, its largest since midway through the opening half. Pressey scored the first five, Bell stole the ball and dunked on the fast break, and Bowers capped it with a three-point play.

Tied 47-all at the break, the Bruins opened the second half on a 16-7 run to go up 63-54. Missouri fought back from the perimeter, hitting four 3-pointers to close to 77-74.

The Bruins hadn't beaten such a highly ranked nonconference opponent since Nov. 20, 2007, when they defeated No. 10 Michigan State.

The game was another thrilling chapter in the teams' history. The Bruins beat the Tigers 75-74 in the second round of the 1995 NCAA tournament when Tyus Edney banked in the winning shot at the buzzer after a full-court dash with 4.8 seconds to play. UCLA went on to win its record 11th national championship. Edney is now the school's director of basketball operations.


UCLA embraces its newfound strengths by going up-tempo to topple Missouri

Larry Drew II and Norman Powell celebrate UCLA's overtime win over Missouri (Getty Images)

The jerseys still read UCLA on the front. The crowd still arrived dressed in blue and gold. And the students still celebrated big baskets with eight claps.

Aside from that, however, everything else about UCLA's 97-94 overtime victory over seventh-ranked Missouri on Friday was virtually unrecognizable from Ben Howland's heyday in Westwood just a few short years ago.

UCLA, which made three straight Final Fours from 2006 to 2008 with precise, structured offense and smothering man-to-man defense, now has a roster hardly capable of guarding five totem poles.

Instead the Bruins are compensating for their many defensive deficiencies by unleashing a free-flowing, fast-paced offense that exploits every opportunity to attack in transition.

[Related: The top five college basketball stories of 2012]

That unfamiliar formula is the one UCLA (10-3) unleashed on Missouri (10-2) to notch a season-changing win that could vault the Bruins back into the AP Top 25 Poll next week.

Shabazz Muhammad scored a game-high 27 points and Travis and David Wear combined for 38 points and 15 rebounds as the Bruins rallied from a nine-point deficit with four minutes to go in regulation thanks to 50.6 percent shooting as a team. Phil Pressey's dazzling 19-point, 19-assist performance helped Missouri pile up 47 first-half points and 86 points with four minutes to go in regulation, but UCLA answered every spurt with one of its own and delivered a stronger finishing kick.

The Tigers had a chance to win in regulation after Jordan Adams tied the score at 88 with a layup, but coach Frank Haith instructed Pressey to inbound the ball with 4.8 seconds to go, eliminating any chance for his point guard to create off the dribble. Instead Jabari Brown missed a contested jumper and Keion Bell botched a difficult put-back attempt, enabling UCLA to force overtime and escape with a victory.

What UCLA's win unequivocally proved is Howland will have to divert from all that's comfortable for him this season if he's going to save his job.

Whereas Howland initially won by convincing defensive-minded, hard-working prospects to buy into his system, he hasn't had enough of that type of player in his program the past few years to make a defensive-oriented approach effective. The roster he assembled this year to revitalize a program that has missed the NCAA tournament two of the past three seasons is full of guys more comfortable delivering a key basket or assist than a defensive stop.

With deft-passing Larry Drew II and Kyle Anderson, the skilled but athletically limited Wear twins and a bevy of creative, slashing wings, UCLA has a team built to score in bunches. They're averaging 80.9 points per game and scoring 1.13 points per possession, numbers that could increase now that Muhammad has shed the excess weight he was carrying earlier in the season and regained his explosiveness.

At the same time, UCLA's defensive ceiling simply isn't very high.

[Related: Freshman's cryptic tweet should worries UCLA hoops fans]

Howland teams often improve defensively over the course of the season, but this roster is limited with no viable rim protector in the paint and two freshmen, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, lacking sufficient lateral quickness to defend opposing wings. Going zone might be an option, but Howland has stubbornly returned to his trademark man-to-man the past few weeks after dabbling with zone earlier this month.

The question now facing the Bruins entering Pac-12 play is whether their offense can be potent enough to hide their defensive limitations and make them contenders. It remains to be seen what the answer is, but the win over Missouri was certainly an encouraging result.

UCLA ran every chance it got, made crisp, unselfish passes and finished brilliantly in transition. What's more, the Bruins looked like they were having fun doing it, remaining engaged on the bench and smiling more than any other game this season.

On a night during which so much about UCLA was unrecognizable, that may have been the most unfamiliar part.


UCLA men's basketball upsets No. 7 Missouri

Bruin defense counters Tigers for 97-94 victory in overtime

The Daily Bruin
Published December 29, 2012, 2:16 am in Men's BasketballSports

They say that basketball is a game of runs.

Never was that more true than on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion when UCLA erased a nine-point deficit to force overtime and eventually beat Missouri, 97-94.

“I enjoy wins where we’re not down nine with 3:27 to go,” said UCLA coach Ben Howland, when asked whether he preferred up-tempo wins compared to slower ones. “I’m really pleased with how our team handled being down late.”

UCLA also went on a 15-0 run in the first half which was promptly countered by a 19-6 Missouri run. The second half saw more of the same as the Bruins went on a 12-4 run just after halftime before the Tigers countered with a 9-0 run of their own.

The last run, however, belonged to the Bruins. They held the Tigers to just one field goal in the overtime period. Freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad had seven of UCLA’s nine points in overtime.

“We believed in our defense,” said Muhammad, who tied a career high with 27 points. “We’re so offensively talented but we needed to buckle down and play defense and we did that.”

The win was the Bruins’ first over a ranked team this season – the Tigers came in at No. 7 – and their last before conference play begins next week.

“We’re right back where we want to be to start Pac-12 play,” Muhammad said.

Redshirt junior forwards Travis and David Wear turned in their best collective performance in UCLA uniforms, combining for 38 points. Travis’ 22-point output marked a career high.

“I wanted to put it all together in this game,” Travis said. “I haven’t played as well as I’m capable of this season. I tried to bring energy and take the shots that came to me.”

At the end of regulation, freshman guard Jordan Adams converted a driving layup to tie the game.

With fouls to give before free throws, Adams fouled Missouri guard Phil Pressey, a foul Missouri coach Frank Haith thought should have been classified as an intentional foul, which would have resulted in free throws for the Tigers.

Howland disagreed.

“I thought that was good salesmanship by the little man,” he said. “I didn’t think it was anything more than a foul. He was trying to sell it. I thought we were in Europe for a minute there.”

Good actor or not, Pressey tied an SEC record with 19 of his team’s 21 assists and led the Tigers (10-2) in scoring with 19 points. Howland said the Bruins wanted to make Pressey beat them.

“That guy makes his teammates better,” Muhammad said of Pressey. “He’s going to be a really great player in the future.”

The Bruins (10-3) now have nearly a week off before hosting Cal on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.

Howland said they would use the time off to rehabilitate. Sophomore guard Norman Powell left Friday’s game with a sprained left ankle and Adams struggled with cramps late in the contest.

“We’re starting over,” Howland said. “It’s a new season on Thursday.”


LOS ANGELES -- UCLA captured its biggest win of the season with a thrilling 97-94 overtime victory over No. 7 Missouri on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion.

A quick breakdown:

How it happened: Shabazz Muhammad scored seven of UCLA's nine points in overtime, including a 3-pointer with just less than a minute to play that gave the Bruins a 95-93 lead. After Earnest Ross made one of two free throws for Missouri, Travis Wear hit a turnaround jumper inside for a 97-94 lead. Missouri got off two tightly contested 3-pointers in desperation time, but neither was close.

UCLA trailed 86-77 with 5:34 to play in regulation but went on a 9-0 run to tie the score with 1:45 to play. A Laurence Bowers dunk with 1:15 to play gave Missouri an 88-86 lead, but Jordan Adams drove the lane and scored to tie it at 88. Missouri got off two shots in the final five seconds.

After a slow start on the offensive end for UCLA, the Bruins used a 15-0 run to take a 23-11 lead that served notice that they intended to give Missouri everything the Tigers could handle. Missouri kept coming back at UCLA, however, shooting 50 percent in the first half. Keion Bell scored 11 consecutive Missouri points during one stretch, and Ross made consecutive 3-point baskets from the same corner to give Missouri the lead back at 44-41 with 3:48 left in the half.

UCLA went on another run and looked as if it would take a halftime lead, but Alex Oriakhi grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for a basket at the first-half buzzer, and the teams went to the break tied at 47-all.

Player of the game: Missouri point guard Phil Pressey set a single-game school record with 19 assists, besting the mark previously held by Stefhon Hannah and Melvin Booker, who each had 13 in a game. Pressey nearly broke the NCAA record of 22 assists. His 12 assists in the first half were as many as anyone had had against UCLA in a game over the past decade. He also had 19 points.

Stat of the game: Where to start? It's unfathomable that UCLA won this game looking at the final stats. Missouri outrebounded UCLA 50-36, and the Tigers shot 47.5 percent and made 12 3-pointers. The best explanation? UCLA had only six turnovers to Missouri's 17.

What it means: UCLA has finally arrived. The Bruins were projected as a top-10 type of team before the season with the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation but hadn't shown any signs of being that team until Friday night. Muhammad, who had 27 points, arrived as a prime-time player with his overtime performance.

What’s next: UCLA opens Pac-12 conference play against California on Thursday at 8 p.m. PT at Pauley Pavilion.
11:20 PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- At long last, the UCLA Bruins resembled the team everyone thought they would be.

The first six weeks of the season have brought nothing but big question marks for UCLA, with bad losses, ugly wins and unimpressive performances taking the luster off a team that had been pegged as a contender for a Final Four run after landing the nation’s top recruiting class.

A 97-94 overtime victory over No. 7 Missouri on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion should help calm the storm that has surrounded coach Ben Howland, who has found his way to the hot seat, and the Bruins, who before Friday seemed to be underachieving.

This was UCLA’s first victory over a ranked team and first victory of the season that would be considered respectable by the nation. That it came in a nationally televised game and in thrilling fashion means it will receive notice and should get the Bruins (10-3) back into the top 25, where they began the season.

“I think our play definitely answered a lot of those questions,” guard Kyle Anderson said. “This is such a big win for us, and we can’t go back to those losses from before. We certainly showed the country what we have right now.”

Early on, the Bruins hadn’t shown the country much. They started with a good win over Indiana State but struggled against UC Irvine. Then came a loss to Georgetown, an ugly win over Georgia and a dreadful home loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith transferred, and it seemed the program was in shambles. The Bruins steadily improved and won four in a row, but critics pointed to a soft schedule. Friday’s win over Missouri (10-2) extended UCLA’s win streak to five and, more importantly, restored order.

“I think this is one of the biggest wins that we could possibly get,” said forward Shabazz Muhammad, who scored seven of UCLA’s nine points in overtime. “They are a top-10 team, and you can tell they are a really good team. We’re right back where we wanted to be to start Pac-12 play.”

Much of that is because of Muhammad. The national high school player of the year last season, Muhammad came to UCLA as touted as any Bruins freshman in the past decade. His season has been mostly disappointing, however, as he started it on the bench, ineligible, and then struggled to work himself into game shape.

The past four games, he has scored 25, 21, 27 and 27 points, but Friday night on the national stage, he arrived as a prime-time player. He had a highlight-reel dunk in the second half when the game was tight, led a fast break and made a jump shot as UCLA erased a nine-point deficit in the final 4:04 of regulation, and then showed the killer instinct that all great scorers have during overtime.

Muhammad buried a 3-pointer for the first points of the extra period, then delivered the key blow with 1:01 to play when he took a pass from Larry Drew II and launched a 3-pointer without hesitation. Nothing but net and a 95-93 UCLA lead.

“I like taking the big shots,” Muhammad said.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of UCLA’s performance, and the biggest indication that the team is maturing, is the way the Bruins handled the momentum shifts. There were plenty of them. The Bruins led by 10 midway through the first half, but Missouri came back to tie it at halftime.

The Bruins opened a 63-54 lead to start the second half, but Missouri turned the tables and took an 86-77 lead with 5:34 to play. The Bruins staged the type of rally to erase that deficit and erase any notion that this is the same old UCLA team that lost to Cal Poly on the same floor just more than a month ago.

“I’m really pleased with how our team handled being down late,” Howland said. “[The Tigers] were down three different times big and came back and took leads from us. It was great to see our team do it at the end and really fight their way to get an important victory.”

It’s important because it gives UCLA a quality win on its résumé, and that will come in handy come tournament selection time. It’s important because it keeps UCLA’s momentum going as the Bruins prepare to open Pac-12 play Thursday against California.

And it’s important because it gives UCLA some hope that this will not be yet another lost season.

“It gives us tons of confidence,” Anderson said. “We have a group of guys who are mentally tough. We never stopped believing we were a good team and we kept fighting every day, and that’s exactly what we did, and we showed it tonight.”


Shabazz Muhammad helps lift UCLA past No. 7 Missouri

The freshman forward makes a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime of a 97-94 victory, the Bruins' fifth in a row.

By Diane Pucin
D' LA Times
11:32 PM PST, December 28, 2012

UCLA isn't going to win many games with just strong defense, no matter what Coach Ben Howland would prefer.

But they'll win some with the type of offense displayed Friday night.

The Bruins upset seventh-ranked Missouri, 97-94, in overtime and overcame a head-turning, stomach-scrambling performance by Tigers point guard Phil Pressey, who had 19 points and 19 assists.

With 12 seconds left in the game, Travis Wear hit a 10-foot jump shot to give the Bruins (10-3) their final advantage.

Freshman Shabazz Muhammad led the Bruins with 27 points, and his three-pointer with 1:01 left in the game put his team ahead for good, 95-93. Travis Wear had a career-high 22 points along with a team-high nine rebounds and his brother David Wear added 16 points and six rebounds.

This was a game full of momentum swings. UCLA had a 15-0 run in the first half yet the Bruins were only tied with Missouri, 47-47, at halftime.

And when Keion Bell nailed a three-pointer with 5:47 left in regulation to give the Tigers (10-2) an 83-77 lead, it seemed the Bruins would fall short.

But the Bruins tied the score at 86 with 1:45 left on a David Wear rebound and putback and again at 88 when freshman Jordan Adams worked for a layup with 11 seconds left in regulation.

“This is one of the biggest wins we could possibly get,” said Muhammad. “They are a top-10 team.”

Howland said the win rewarded a team of young players who stayed on campus and practiced on Christmas night. “This was an important win for us. I'm happy our guys kept fighting,” Howland said.

The Bruins had a 15-0 run in the first half to take a 23-11 lead but still wound up tied at halftime. It was 47-47 after Missouri's Alex Oriakhi had a buzzer-beating layup.

Missouri got back into the game early with the help of 11 straight points from Bell. Bell is from Los Angeles and is a transfer from Pepperdine. When he played for the Waves, Bell had 24- and 22-point games against the Bruins. He finished with 17 Friday.

“This Missouri team is fantastic,” said Howland, who doesn't often go for the overstatement. Howland also said the collective performance of the Wear twins was, “their best collective performance,” as Bruins.

Howland said that despite Pressey's impressive-looking final stat line, his team defended the point guard well.

“He took 22 shots,” Howland said. “That's what we wanted.”

Pressey made only eight of those shots.

The Bruins started slowly, missing 12 of their first 15 shots, but Missouri's 20-for-40 shooting after 20 minutes had Howland's defensive mind doing somersaults.

“We've got to get better defensively,” Howland said.

Missouri Coach Frank Haith lamented the lost leads in regulation. “We didn't execute very well,” he said. “We made some really gambling plays and that really cost us.'

Twitter: @mepucin

Usually, I put the boxscore here but I couldn't capture the whole Yahoo!Sports boxscore off of my laptop. I will do it when I get home. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to you, UCLA Basketball Fan...

Hoping and Praying to see the UCLA Bruins and you go far in the Tournament in March. 
Go, Bruins!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Offensive outburst keys Bruins' run

LOS ANGELES -- For the UCLA basketball team these days, the best defense is a good offense.

The Bruins defensive woes this season have been well-chronicled, but for the last three games it’s been moot thanks to an offense that is putting up some impressive numbers.

The Bruins defeated Fresno State, 91-78, Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion and pushed their win streak to four consecutive games. They have scored 95, 89 and 91 points in their last three games, shooting a whopping 57.6% during that stretch.

UCLA (9-3) has won by 19 and 13 points the last two games despite allowing Long Beach State and Fresno State (5-7) to shoot nearly 48 percent in those games. It’s not exactly a recipe for long-term success, but it’s nice for the Bruins to know they have the ability to simply out-score opponents when they need to.

“It’s great when you have a few mishaps on defense and everybody is clicking on the offensive end and everybody is being unselfish,” said guard Kyle Anderson. “But I think it’s much better if we want to be a contending team we need to buckle down on defense.”

Unselfishness has become a hallmark of the UCLA offense. In the last three games, they have a combined 70 assists on 91 made field goals. Point guard Larry Drew II has a 28-to-3 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games, making the offense run quite efficiently.

On Tuesday against Long Beach State, Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad each scored 20 or more to become the first freshmen in UCLA history to score 20 or more in the same game. Against Fresno State on Saturday, they did it again and added Kyle Anderson to the mix, giving UCLA three freshmen with 20 or more for the first time in school history.

“Guys aren’t afraid to give up the ball and really trust their teammates and that’s a big factor with us right now,” Muhammad said. “It’s unselfishness and it’s bringing our team a long way.”

At some point the UCLA defense is going to have to tighten up. Fresno State got way too many open three-point looks and opponents all season have found easy paths to the basket, and UCLA’s interior defense has been almost non existent against upper-tier post players.

Howland, a notorious stickler for defense, said he planned on drilling the team hard on staying in front of the ball because they are getting beat off the dribble far too often. His most successful teams were always hard-nosed defensive teams that held opponents to scoring in the 60’s and he said he doesn’t want to gamble on being a team that needs to score 90 points a night to win games.

“We don’t want to play that way,” Howland said. “We want to do better defensively.”

Saturday’s offensive performance may have been the most impressive of the season. Fresno State was giving up an average of only 55.8 points a game this season and no Bulldogs’ opponents before UCLA had scored as many as 70. The Bulldogs had held their last six opponents to under 60 points.

And that performance came amid the distraction created by an Internet report this week that said that UCLA was leaning toward firing Howland and that he could be let go during the season. The players said it was not a distraction and that it even served as a bit of motivation.

“We didn’t pay attention to it,” Muhammad said. “There are a lot of rumors that go around and as you can see he’s a great coach who is pushing us to get better and we’re improving as a team. It doesn’t affect us. We went out there and played. We’re always playing for him because not only is he a good coach, but he’s a good guy so it’s a big thing for us to play for him.”

Muhammad said the team played “with a chip on our shoulder” and they hope to carry that over into the next few games. The Bruins face No. 12 Missouri next Friday and then begin Pac-12 play against California and Stanford on Jan. 3 and 5.

It’s an important stretch for the Bruins, who began the season as a top-15 team with high expectations.

“We’re looking forward to this game [against Missouri],” Adams said. “It’s been marked on our calendar. They’re a top-10 team and we need this game to get back.”

Offensively, at least, they seem to be well on their way.

OC Register's Whicker: UCLA trio's progress soon will show

Article Tab: bulldogs-state-kevin-cont
UCLA's Jordan Adams (left) fights to control the ball against kevin Foster of the Fresno State Bulldogs at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday in Los Angeles. STEPHEN DUNN, GETTY IMAGES
Published: Dec. 23, 2012 Updated: Dec. 24, 2012 12:13 a.m.
LOS ANGELES – At one fallow point in Saturday night's first half, the video board at Pauley Pavilion showed Lorenzo Mata-Real.

A surprising number of the 8,327 recognized him, and applauded beseechingly.


Mata-Real was a popular Bruin during the triple Final Four years. He was the pride of Huntington Park, representing a part of L.A. that isn't known for basketball, but mainly he could shift a ballgame without providing a point. He filled space, blocked shots, knocked opponents off rebounds, gave hard fouls.
The absence of those virtues shines like Shabazz Muhammad's lemon shoes. The presence of someone as real as Mata-Real could save this transitory season for UCLA.

As they showed in this 91-78 victory over Fresno State, the Bruins are fewer but prouder than they were in November.
Losing Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith has not only balanced the portions at the training table, it has allowed the remaining players to slip nicely into their slots.
Freshmen Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams combined for all but 19 of UCLA's points. Larry Drew II had 10 assists and one turnover, and his season totals are now 102 and 19, more efficient than any point guard Ben Howland could remember coaching.
David and Travis Wear have become support players, which suits them at this point, and Norman Powell is continuing his tempo-changing role off the bench. The unexplored resource is Tony Parker, a 270-pound freshman who, given time, will be a menacing post defender.
"We've got eight scholarship players now," Adams said. "I think we've come together a lot better in the last few weeks."
Whether that's enough to win the Pac-12 or even make the NCAA Tournament is the question that begins to get answered with the first "event game" in the renovated building, Friday night against Missouri.
For one thing, Fresno State left Pauley with the first evidence that it was actually a good offensive team. It shot 10 for 17 from 3-point land and 47.4 percent overall, and that's with zero fastbreak points. It came in shooting 37.8 percent.
"We really need to keep the ball in front of us a little better," Howland said. "We allowed a lot more penetration than we should, tonight. That's what we're going to emphasize Christmas night, in a practice that I'm looking forward to."
However, the Bruins are keeping their promise of playing 94-foot basketball when the takeaways come, the way they did when Kevin Love was perfecting the outlet pass.
And the freshmen are simply too good to be dismissed.
Muhammad is a natural basketball magnet who finds points like nickels on the street. And his hunger for scoring makes it simple for teammates, who know they can crash the boards when he gets possession. In 249 collegiate minutes, Muhammad has eight (8) assists. That's less than one assist per Seinfeld rerun.

Anderson compensates with a unique game that freezes opponents and belies his adolescent build. He had 20 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists against Fresno State.
"He'll get a triple-double before the year is out," said Howland, and he can also run the show when Drew exits. Even though Anderson was tirelessly compared to Magic Johnson as a high schooler, he is much more basic than his reputation (as was Magic). There are lots of freshly upholstered seats in Pauley that should be filled this winter if for no other reason than to watch Anderson.

But Adams, who shot 10 for 14 with seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and no turnovers Saturday, is the prize of the class so far, and with far less billing.

"He's a better player than I thought he was," Howland said.

He is a rugged, 6-foot-5 former Atlanta high school quarterback who already is fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring. Nothing about the college game has interrupted his stride, not from the moment he christened the building with 21 against Indiana State Nov. 9.

Adams laid 22 points on Georgetown, 23 on San Diego State, 18 on Texas. His Oak Hill Academy team went 44-0 last season. The hope was that Adams would be one member of this freshman class who would become a sophomore and let the NBA draft breeze by, but Howland has seen that hope disintegrate before.

"Oak Hill is pretty much like college so nothing was really new to me," Adams said. "That's why I got off to a good start.

"The hardest adjustment has been learning to play hard the whole game, play defense the whole game. Even tonight, they (Fresno State) were creeping back. We've learned it's gotta be all 40 minutes."

With three seniors and four NBA-aware freshmen out of the eight who play, UCLA's time isn't hanging.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bruins muzzle Bulldogs at Pauley 91-78

To watch video highlights, click here (link).


Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson combine for 72 points and 31 rebounds, with Adams making key plays to rally the Bruins after they fall behind early.

December 22, 2012, 11:21 p.m.

Jordan Adams played big, as if he was a foot taller than his listed height of 6 feet 5. And he played quick, as if he was a foot smaller.

It was Adams who jump-started a UCLA comeback in the first half, it was Adams who hit a layup to cap a mad scramble that helped his team to an unexpected halftime lead, and it was Adams whose energy pushed UCLA to a 91-78 win over Fresno State on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Adams was one of a trio of UCLA freshman who scored in double figures. He had 25 points and 15 of those came in the first half when UCLA was trying to hang on.

Shabazz Muhammad finished with a career-high 27 points, 20 in the second half when the Bruins were pulling away. And a third freshman, guard Kyle Anderson, had 20 points and 17 rebounds, both career highs.

In all, the three freshmen combined for 72 points and 31 rebounds for the Bruins (9-3), who shook off a sluggish start and finished the first half with a 12-3 run to take a tenuous 39-36 lead into the locker room.

"I thought this team was exactly what we expected," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said of Fresno State. "They were very patient and our guys hung in there tough.

"I'm just glad our young guys are getting this experience. We do have to get better defensively but this has been one of our best teams in taking care of the basketball."

UCLA had only 10 turnovers and out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 42-26.

Fresno State (5-7) missed its first five shots in the game but the Bruins couldn't immediately take advantage. At one point the Bulldogs had a nine-point lead, 25-16, and a loud but lonely-sounding UCLA fan screamed "Go Bruins," in a voice more angry than pleading.

Adams certainly listened. He hit a layup 44 seconds before halftime to cap that end-of-the half scramble and finished the first 20 minutes with 15 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Anderson had nine first-half points and eight rebounds.

That UCLA had a halftime lead was surprising, after Fresno State's Kevin Olekaibe made a wide-open three-point shot to give the Bulldogs the 25-16 lead.

UCLA's comeback began immediately, though. It was jump-started by Adams' three-point play (layup and free throw), which caused Adams to pound his chest and seemed to energize the entire team.

The Bruins shot 36 of 62 from the field (58.1%) in the game.

Anderson's three-pointer with 17:36 left in the game gave the Bruins a 46-38 lead, their biggest of the game.

Point guard Larry Drew II had his first points of the game with a layup that gave UCLA its first double-digit lead, 54-44, and an Adams three-pointer made it 57-46.

When Muhammad, swished a three-pointer with 11:58 left, the Bruins led 62-49 and it almost felt as if a blowout was in the making.

By BRIAN WHITEHEAD / For the OC Register
Published: Dec. 22, 2012 11:28 p.m.

LOS ANGELES - All throughout the first half of Saturday night's nonconference game against Mountain West adversary Fresno State, those who filled Pauley Pavilion waited patiently — then, rather impatiently — for UCLA to pull away from the Bulldogs.

It took nearly 20 minutes — and a barrage of baskets by Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson late in the half — for the home team to do so, but the Bruins (9-3) managed their fourth consecutive victory quite convincingly nonetheless.

Article Tab:  Shabazz Muhammad (15) of the UCLA Bruins goes up for a loose ball with Aaron Anderson (11) of the Fresno State Bulldogs at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.  UCLA won 91-78.
Shabazz Muhammad (15) of the UCLA Bruins goes up for a loose ball with Aaron Anderson (11) of the Fresno State Bulldogs at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. UCLA won 91-78.
Stephen Dunn, Getty Images
In extending its win streak to a season-high four games, UCLA rode the hot hands of Adams and fellow freshman Shabazz Muhammad to a 91-78 victory over Fresno State (5-7).

“We're at the one-third part of the season and I think our team is improving from where we were at in November,” Bruins coach Ben Howland said. “We still have to get better defensively, but one thing that's really unique with this team is it's probably one of the best teams I've had in terms of taking care of the basketball.”

In becoming the first pair of UCLA freshman to score 20-plus points in consecutive games, Muhammad finished with a career-high 27 points — 20 in the second half — and Adams added 25 with seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.

“He (Adams) is a fantastic basketball player along with his skill set,” Howland said of the freshman. “He's really unselfish and a pleasure to coach. He's better than I expected.”

Kyle Anderson — another freshman — posted his third double-double of the season with 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

UCLA outrebounded Fresno State, 42-26, while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.

“I'm happy with the win,” Howland said. “I think our offense in both halves was really solid. It was exactly what we expected when they (Bulldogs) came in. ... Our guys hung in there tough, and those are the types of teams that are going to be tough for us.”

During a first half kept close by effective 3-point shooting, Fresno State surged ahead by nine with a 12-1 run midway through the half.

Despite scoring on its next six possessions, UCLA still trailed by six near the 3-minute mark.

Yet, baskets from Muhammad, Norman Powell, Adams and Anderson, coupled with efficient defense, sparked a 12-3 spurt to close the half.

“That was really big,” Howland said of the run. “We started getting a little better defensively, and it was important for us to have the lead going into halftime.

“... Every game is going to be a dogfight for us.”

With a three-point advantage after 20 minutes, the Bruins — who don't play again until Friday when they play host to Missouri — effectively put the game out of reach early in the second half.

Spurred by four points from both Muhammad and Anderson, UCLA upped its lead to nine points.

The Bruins wound up scoring on its next nine possessions to jump ahead by 16 midway through the second half.

UCLA led by no less than 11 points the rest of the game.

Fresno State guard Marvelle Harris poured in a career-high 19 points.

UCLA 91, FRESNO STATE 78: Bruins take their time dismissing Bulldogs

Los Angeles Daily News

UCLA got it half right Saturday night against Fresno State in halting its meandering ways after halftime and extending its winning streak to a season-high four games with a 91-78 victory at Pauley Pavilion in its second-to-last nonconference game.
Since nothing has been easy for the Bruins in the opening months of the season, maybe it was too much to expect a wire-to-wire victory over the struggling Bulldogs, losers of four in a row. It just took a little longer than anyone might have expected for UCLA to pull away.

In the end, the Bruins' best players were their best players.

Freshmen Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson and senior Larry Drew II propelled UCLA (9-3) to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes of the second half after the Bruins rallied from a nine-point deficit to lead 39-36 at halftime.

Muhammad scored 20 of his career-high 27 in the second half. Adams scored 15 of his 25 points in the first half. Anderson added 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. It was the first time in school history three freshmen scored 20 points or more in the same game.

"I wasn't really aware of that," Muhammad said when asked if he realized he had scored 20 points in the second half after making eight of 12 shots. "Multiple guys scored in double digits.

"Our guys were really unselfish (and) it's taking us a long way."

Drew scored only four points but had a team-leading 10 assists and only one turnover.
"Larry did a phenomenal job," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Drew, who had 14 points and added nine assists with just one turnover in Tuesday's victory over Long Beach State. "Our assists to turnover ratio is the best it's been since I've been here."

UCLA had 24 assists and 10 turnovers Saturday.

After victories over Fresno State, Long Beach State, Prairie View and Texas, the Bruins will try for their fifth consecutive win Friday against No.12 Missouri in their last nonconference game before beginning Pac-12 play Jan. 3 against California at Pauley Pavilion.

Marvelle Harris scored a career-high 19 points in a reserve role and Tyler Johnson had 16 for Fresno State (5-7). The Bulldogs led by as many as nine points in the first half before the Bruins closed with a 10-2 run to rally for a 39-36 lead at halftime.

"Fresno State was very patient," Howland said. "They don't get anything in transition. They run their sets. Those types of teams are tough for us to play against.

"Our guys have to learn. Teams that want to get up and down the court are easier for us to play."

UCLA began the second half by looking nothing like the sluggish team that started the game by scoring only four points on 2-for-5 shooting in the first 4:03. The Bruins turned a three-point lead into a 16-point edge after Muhammad's layup made it 70-54.

Fresno State opened the game by missing its first four shots and committing four turnovers before Kevin Foster's tip-in after almost 3.2 (?) minutes. UCLA led only 4-2 by the time the first television timeout was called with 15:57 left, however.

Once it got over a serious case of the jitters, Fresno State raced past UCLA and built a lead that swelled to as many as nine points when Kevin Olekaibe swished a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 25-16 edge with a little more than seven minutes left in the first half.

"I didn't realize it was nine points," Howland said. "It's good our guys are gaining experience. We're at the one-third point of the regular season, and I like where we are.

"This is one of the best teams I've had here in terms of taking care of the basketball."
Rapid Reaction: UCLA 91, Fresno State 78
LOS ANGELES -- UCLA won a season-best fourth consecutive game with a tighter-than-expected 91-78 victory over Fresno State on Saturday Night at Pauley Pavilion. Here’s a quick rundown:

How it happened: After trailing most of the first half, UCLA (9-3) began the second half on an 11-5 run, and Shabazz Muhammad scored 11 of UCLA’s 13 points during a six-minute stretch of the second half in which the Bruins opened a 70-54 lead and took control of the game.

Fresno State (5-7) made 5-of-9 3-pointers in the first half, and led by as many as nine before the break, but UCLA closed the first half on a 16-5 run and took a 39-36 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs, a 30-percent 3-point shooting team that had made 9-of-54 in its last three games, made 10-of-17 against the Bruins.

Muhammad scored 20 of his career-high 27 points in the second half while Jordan Adams had 25 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Kyle Anderson had 20 points and 17 rebounds, both career highs. It marks the first time three UCLA freshmen have scored 20 or more in the same game.

Player of the game: Adams fell just short of leading the team in scoring for the seventh time this season. He made 10-of-14 shots overall and kept UCLA in the game during the first half while most everybody else was cold. He was 7-of-9 for 15 points before halftime. Anderson posted his third double-double of the season and added seven assists.

Stat of the game: UCLA is the first team to score 70 points against Fresno State this season. The Bulldogs had been giving up only 55.8 points per game and had held six consecutive opponents under 60. UCLA shot 58.1 percent from the floor against a Fresno State team that was holding opponents to 40 percent before the game.

What it means: The Bruins are still struggling on the defensive end, especially when it comes to leaving 3-point shooters open. That will be a major issue when they start facing teams with better outside shooters, but for now, UCLA will go into Christmas on a four-game win streak.

What’s next: UCLA plays No. 12 Missouri on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion. It is UCLA’s biggest nonconference test, and the last game before Pac-12 play starts on Jan. 3. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Led by three freshmen starters, UCLA's offense has cranked up in its last three home games.
Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 of his career-high 27 points in the second half, Jordan Adams added 25 points and Kyle Anderson had career bests with 20 points and 17 rebounds in the Bruins' 91-78 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night. It was the first time three UCLA freshmen scored 20 or more points in a game.

It was the Bruins' fourth straight win, and the third game in a row that they scored 89 or more points.
Muhammad credited the team's unselfishness for the recent offensive burst.

''We have multiple guys in double digits,'' he said. ''We're really doing a good job on the offensive end. We've been playing really well and we're going to continue to play really well.''

UCLA (9-3) will need to, with No. 12 Missouri coming to Pauley Pavilion on Friday to close out the Bruins' non-conference schedule. So far, they're 3-0 in the midst of playing six straight home games.
The Bruins improved to 7-0 all-time against the Bulldogs in the teams' first meeting since Dec. 27, 1990.

UCLA's Larry Drew II had 10 assists and one turnover in 35 minutes, the fourth time he's had 10 or more this season.

Freshman Marvelle Harris scored a career-high 19 points and Tyler Johnson added 16 in Fresno State's fourth straight loss. The Bulldogs (5-7) are winless in three games against the Pac-12 this season, having lost at Washington State and to Colorado this month.

''Our heads were not in the game,'' Harris said. ''The effort was there, but it was the mental lapse that let us down. We have the effort but we just have to bring the brains too.''

The Bruins trailed for much of the game before building a double-digit lead early in the second half. Adams' 3-pointer made it 57-46 just before a dominant stretch by Muhammad. He keyed a 13-5 run with 11 points, pushing UCLA's lead to 70-54 with 8:42 to play. Muhammad grabbed seven rebounds in helping the Bruins dominate the boards, 42-26.

Adams, Norman Powell and Anderson combined to score six straight points in extending UCLA's lead to 79-63.

The Bulldogs shot 50 percent in the second half, when they were outscored 52-42. Their strong man-to-man defense stifled the Bruins' ability to run.

''Our guys hung in there,'' UCLA coach Ben Howland said. ''Those types of teams are going to be hard for us because our team is still learning. Teams that want to get up and down, that's better for us.''

UCLA scored 10 points in the last 1:50 to lead 39-36 at halftime. Adams and Anderson had four points each during the stretch.

''We wanted to go into the half on a run,'' said Anderson, who fell three assists shy of a triple-double. ''Closing the half on a run would be a great momentum swing.''

Fresno State built its largest lead, 25-16, during a 10-2 run that included two 3-pointers by Kevin Olekaibe. An 8-0 run led to the Bulldogs' first lead early in the game, capped by Allen Huddleston's 3-pointer - one of their five in the half, when their bench outscored UCLA's reserves 19-2.

The Box (Yahoo!

UCLA Coach Ben Howland addresses questions about his job security

Ben Howland
UCLA Coach Ben Howland complains to a referee during a game against Cal State Northridge. ( Stephen Dunn / Getty Images / November 28, 2012)

December 22, 2012, 6:15 p.m.
It was a niggling little thing that caused Ben Howland's voice to harden just a little Friday.

The question arose because a respected Internet source of UCLA basketball news, Bruins Report Online, had reported that its "sources" were beginning to say Howland, the man who once took the Bruins to three consecutive Final Fours, might not make it through this season, and that Athletic Director Dan Guerrero already had a list of possible replacements.

UCLA had a game Saturday night against Fresno State and another Friday against 12th-ranked Missouri before opening Pac-12 Conference play, and discussions about his job were not what Howland wanted to have before facing the Bulldogs at Pauley Pavilion.

"You know what? This profession, you always have things written," Howland said. "I just do everything I can to improve and grow. I can't help you in substantiating anything. Everything at UCLA since I've been here is the same. I'll be evaluated at the end of the season."

The Bruins (8-3) had a little momentum going into Saturday's game, a three-game winning streak. A victory over Fresno State (5-6) would mean a season-high four-game streak going into a short Christmas break.

From what Howland had seen of Fresno State, he said, "They play extremely hard. They really pressure in their man-to-man defense. They're primarily a man-to-man defensive team that really gets out and pressures you. I've been really impressed with their freshman center, Robert Upshaw, who we had recruited some, who's probably lost about 30 pounds. He looks in great physical condition."

Upshaw, a 7-footer, is listed at 250 pounds and averages six points and four rebounds a game.

Howland also mentioned Fresno State's leading scorer, junior guard Allen Huddleston, a transfer who had played two years for Pacific.

Fresno State Coach Rodney Terry is in his second season after spending nine years as an assistant to Rick Barnes at Texas. Terry got credit for recruiting and helping to develop 10 All-Americans, including Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin.

Terry fondly remembers the old Pauley. He was an assistant in 2007 when second-ranked UCLA was stunned by the Longhorns at the buzzer, a loss that ended a 25-game home winning streak by the Bruins.

Howland said that after the Fresno State game, he'll give the team Sunday and Monday off, then practice Christmas night to begin getting ready for Missouri. "All the kids will stick around," Howland said. "It's tough. I feel bad they won't be able to get home for the holidays."

Two wins before the Pac-12 season begins would be a nice holiday gift.

"Ben's done a great job," Terry said. "These are young kids he's got, talented, but they had to gain confidence and I see that coming from them."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

UCLA's Parker searching for minutes

Article Tab: UCLA's Tony Parker listens to questions from the media during a preseason news conference. A part of a celebrated freshmen class, Parker hasn't seen as minutes as expected this season.
UCLA's Tony Parker listens to questions from the media during a preseason news conference. A part of a celebrated freshmen class, Parker hasn't seen as minutes as expected this season. MIGUEL VASCONCELLOS, FOR ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
UCLA's Parker searching for minutes

Published: Dec. 21, 2012 Updated: 2:31 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – With the title of "nation's top recruiting class" comes a great deal of responsibility, as weighty expectations were laid upon the shoulders of UCLA freshmen Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, and Tony Parker coming into the season.

Muhammad, billed as a potential top-three pick in next year's NBA Draft, started slow but has begun to look like one of the Pac 12's best players. Anderson has also started to find his stride. And Adams, meanwhile, has been a more prolific scorer than many imagined upon his arrival.

Still, Parker remains the odd man out. Despite the Bruins' lack of depth in the frontcourt, Parker has only managed minor minutes in most games this season – against Long Beach State (UCLA's last game) that meant just five minutes.
That limited time on the court has led to questions of his development and whether he's on par with his talented freshmen classmates.

"Tony is going to end up playing major minutes in huge games for us this season as it unfolds," Howland said. "He's making good progress. I'm excited about Tony."

Howland attributes his limited success so far to a difference in the learning process of playing inside, versus outside. Parker, he says, has had a tougher change to make than the other freshmen.

Parker was also hampered by injuries a great deal since joining the Bruins, as a torn hamstring kept him out the entire summer, including the team's trip to China. And since returning, Parker has dealt with back spasms and a twisted ankle that he sustained in warm-ups a few weeks ago. All in all, it's been a rather unlucky beginning for someone adjusting to being in a difficult position.

"I don't know that (he needed more time)," Howland said. "It's different when you're playing inside. Those guys are so physical and it's just different playing inside versus outside. It's a different game. Everybody is different, but Tony is going to be a very good player."


One day after questions of his job security began circulating, courtesy of a story on Bruin Report Online that stated UCLA was leaning toward firing its long-time basketball coach, Howland said he hasn't spoken with anyone in the school's athletic department about his future, nor is he concerned by the report.

"I heard about it, but I don't read it," Howland said. "You're always going to have things written (about you). I'm just doing everything I can to help this team improve and grow and become the best team it can become."

"I can't help you with substantiating anything that's written on the boards," he added.

The report also claimed that Howland may not even last the full season before being fired by the athletic department. That seems unlikely, given Howland's massive buyout and the public perception disaster that the program would have on its hands, having fired Howland in the middle of what was supposed to be a banner year for UCLA, but it's also not an impossibility.

But for the UCLA coach who may possibly be in turmoil following a rocky start to a key season, he expects to be evaluated in the same way he has since taking the job with the Bruins in 2003.
"Everything at UCLA since I've been here has been very, very much the same in that you're evaluated at the end of every season," Howland said.


With Fresno State coming to Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, Howland said that he expects the Bulldogs to pressure a lot in man-to-man defense. "They play extremely hard," he said of Fresno's defense. ... UCLA's out-of-state players won't be going home for Christmas this year, as the team will have practice on the night of the 25th. The Bruins take on Missouri on Dec. 28 in one of their marquee matchups of the non-conference season.

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