UCLA lost it's last game against USC. Normally that wouldn't be a absolutely terrible thing, because rivalry games are tough to win. However, USC is a terrible team this year and UCLA lost at home. That should never happen. The Bruins want to be considered as a tournament quality team and yet they continue to lose games that they shouldn't. I know the loss to Cal was tough, because that team is playing lights out right now but there is still something lacking on the UCLA team.
I have been wishing/wanting/needing Kyle Anderson to put together a string of good games, but he is still wildly inconsistent. He can look like a top 10 NBA draft pick one game and then look like a NBDL prospect the next. I don't get it. He has all the skills to be a great player and yet he still lacks something that is turning him into something special. I will admit that it could mean he will return for his sophomore season which is quite exciting. UCLA still needs Anderson to play well the last month of the season if they wish to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Shabazz Muhammad has figured something out on offense. He is playing really well right now. My biggest problem with Shabazz is his lack of defense. He could be a shut down defender and yet he lets inferior players score at will on him. I don't get it. Since when is basketball like football in that you only have to play on one side of the ball? UCLA needs quality defense from all 5 guys on the court. If they can't get that consistently this team is going to flame out in the worst way.
Larry Drew II keeps impressing me. I was so pissed off at ESPN and just about every other publishing that named Drew II as the most important player on UCLA this season. I still don't think he is the most important, but he might be the stability that the Bruins so desperately need. He leads the country in Assist-to-Turnover ratio, which I can't even explain how impressed everybody should be with that fact. After he left North Carolina everybody thought he was done. He has proved everybody including myself wrong.
This game today at the Galen Center is an important one. UCLA needs to keep pace with Arizona and Oregon. Also, they need to hold off a surging Cal team. A win today means nothing for the Tournament committee, but it means everything to the conference standings. A loss puts UCLA in a tough position. They would need to beat both Arizona schools next week and then win both games at the Washington schools the following week. And UCLA hasn't won at Washington since Abe Lincoln was in office.
UCLA-USC is not one of the rivalry games that most people think about in the college basketball landscape. The good thing is that most of the games are competitive and rather exciting to watch. I hope todays game is just that. Exciting and a blow out win for UCLA. I want to see Tony Parker play 20+ minutes and see what he can do. I want to see Shabazz score 30 and I want Kyle Anderson to have a triple-double. If even one of those three things happens this would be a good game for UCLA. Bruins 80 Trojans 67.
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