UCLA’s three freshman starters – Jordan Adams, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson accounted
for 36 of the Bruins’ 39 points in the first half and finished with 64 of UCLA’s 79 total points in the Bruins’ 79-74 overtime win over ASU on Thursday.
Prior to this season, two or more UCLA freshmen had never recorded 20 or more points in the same game. That feat has happened three times this year. In two games, UCLA has had three freshmen score at least 20 points (against Fresno State on Dec. 22, and Arizona State on Thursday). Adams and Muhammad each reached the 20-point pleateau in UCLA’s win against Long Beach State. Lute Olson started three freshmen in 1998-99: Ruben Douglas, shooting guard, and forwards Richard Jefferson and Michael Wright. Luke Walton averaged 25.8 minutes a game as a redshirt freshman reserve in 1999-2000 with true freshmen Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas starting in the backcourt. Olson did not count on all three players on each of these teams to score more than 20 points in a game.
Bilas made it clear that UCLA struggles on the boards during the GameDay telecast. UCLA is getting out-rebounded in Pac-12 play by an average of 41.4 to 35.7. The Bruins, however, out-worked Arizona on the boards in Tucson on Jan. 24 with a 45-44 advantage. UCLA coach Ben Howland told the GameDay crew that if UCLA does not improve upon its rebounding the Bruins will not go far in the NCAA tournament. UCLA will come out determined to out-rebound Arizona again. The Wildcats are out-rebounding Pac-12 opponents 35.9 to 32.9. Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom and Kaleb Tarczewski combine to average 16.1 rebounds a game in Pac-12 play. They will have to combine for at least 25 against the Bruins. Also not to be overlooked — Arizona’s guards Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson must be active on the defensive rebounds to fuel Arizona’s fast break.
UCLA is North Carolina West with three former Tarheels as major contributors on the Bruins’ roster. Larry Drew II, a senior, and two redshirt juniors David Wear and Travis Wear were teammates in Chapel Hill during the 2009-10 season. Drew II was part of North Carolina’s NCAA championship team during his freshman season of 2008-09. Drew II has assist-to-turnover numbers like Steve Kerr but is not close to being the kind of shooter Kerr exhibited. Drew II ranks second on UCLA’s single-season assists list (218) and currently stands first on the school’s single-season assists per game list (7.79). Through Thursday’s games, Drew II ranked second in the nation in assist turnover ratio (3.46) and fourth in assists per game (7.8). He has logged at least eight assists in 17 of 28 contests and has committed two or fewer turnovers in 19 of 28 games. He shoots 44 percent from the field and only 60 percent at the free-throw line. He knows his strength is distributing the ball.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner