UCLA: C.J. Wilcox

Drew's game winner can't mask UCLA's issues

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
10:48
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Yes, Larry Drew II can shoot.

After two weeks of seeing opponents sag off of him and daring him to beat them, Drew did exactly that.

His jump shot from just outside the left elbow swished through the net as the final horn sounded and lifted UCLA to a 59-57 victory over the Washington Huskies Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.

He calmly stroked the shot in a high-pressure situation and did so for all the world to see. The game was televised by ESPN, and his shot was sure to make the nightly top 10 plays. That clip ought to make its way around to future opponents, who have recently stayed away from Drew like he was a playground kid with chicken pox.

And this wasn’t Drew’s first time winning a game for UCLA. His driving layup with 17 seconds left in overtime gave the Bruins an 80-79 victory on Nov. 13, and another drive to the hoop with nine seconds left sealed a 57-53 victory at Utah.

But Thursday was the first time Drew hit the winner in such dramatic fashion, and it was also the first time he did so with a jump shot instead of a drive -- something opponents in recent games did not believe he could do based on the way they hadn't been guarding him on the perimeter.

“I definitely feel like I can put the ball in the basket when I need to,” Drew said. “But with a team like this we have so many horses and so many guys I can give up the ball to to fill up the basket. I feel like my playmaking ability for others is equally -- if not better -- than my ability to put the ball in the basket myself.

“That’s the type of player I am. I’m a pass-first point guard. Old school if you want to call it that, but at the end of the day I just want to do whatever it takes to get my team the [win].”

Thursday it took a jumper. Drew took the inbounds pass with about 10 seconds to play after Washington’s C.J. Wilcox made a layup to tie the score at 57. Drew dribbled up the court, cut out to the left wing, elevated and made a smooth stroke.

“Obviously, I knew I had enough time to get to the basket or create a shot for myself or one of my teammates,” Drew said. “I think the defense pretty much dictated it. My eyes were on the rim, and I just found an opening and I have confidence in my jumper and it went in.”

Thank goodness for that. The basket put a merciful end to an ugly display of basketball and added some excitement to what otherwise was a snoozer of a game. UCLA shot a season-low 33.3 percent (22 of 66) and had more shot attempts than points.

Washington had 19 turnovers -- the most by a UCLA opponent this season -- and missed its first 13 3-point shots before Abdul Gaddy made two in the final five minutes. At halftime, the teams had combined for almost as many turnovers (21) as made baskets (22).

Winning ugly is better than losing, but the Bruins have been playing ugly for a while now. They have shot 34.7, 38.2 and 33.3 percent in their past three games and have been outrebounded, 143-105, in those games.

Two of those three have been losses to Arizona State, a decent team, and USC, a team with a losing record. Thursday’s win was UCLA’s first since Jan. 31 and first at home since Jan. 23. Winning is always good, but playing poorly on national television is not going to win over anyone on the NCAA tournament selection and seeding committee.

“We have plenty of wins on our résumé that are important for us,” said forward Shabazz Muhammad. “We definitely need another win where its solid and just to build off of our chemistry. The SC loss was so bad, and coming here with an ugly win -- we’ll take it, but we definitely need to look for a really solid win.”

Muhammad might look in the mirror to help the cause. Yes, he is a dynamic scorer, and his defensive effort is improving, but the rest of his stat line leaves a lot to be desired. He’s averaging five rebounds a game (tied for third on the team), has only 13 steals (seventh on the team) and one blocked shot (10th on the team).

Yet the most glaring stat in his line is 17 assists in 20 games. Thursday was his eighth game with zero assists, and he’s had only three games this season with more than one. Opponents are clearly planning to stop Muhammad, but he keeps firing away even over double-teams, and is averaging 18 shots a game over the past four games. Once the ball is in his hands, it’s going up no matter how many of his teammates are open or how poor the shot selection is.

And Thursday he showed that when the ball isn’t in his hands, he will pout. As Drew dribbled the ball during the 10 seconds before hitting the game winner, Muhammad curled up to the top of the key and adamantly clapped his hands and stomped his feet calling for the ball.

After Drew’s shot went in, most UCLA players dog-piled on top, but Muhammad casually walked past the pile with the look of a lover scorned, not even bothering to glance at the proceedings.

“Oh yeah, I wanted the ball,” said Muhammad, who had a game-high 22 points but took 23 shots and had zero assists. “But Larry is such an aggressive player, and as soon as the ball went up I knew it was going to be good.

“Everybody was on him and attacking him and I knew Larry was going to have something broken or some scratches, so I was going to wait until he gets up to congratulate him. That was a big-time shot and we’re all so happy that we won the game.”

That’s because Larry Drew II can shoot. And thank goodness for that.

First look: Washington at UCLA

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
9:40
AM PT
What: Washington Huskies (13-9, 5-4) at UCLA Bruins (16-6, 6-3)

When: Thursday, 6 p.m. PT

Where: Pauley Pavilion

TV: ESPN

Radio: AM 570

Scouting the Bruins: UCLA will have had eight days to reflect on what has been going wrong after losing to USC in its last game on Jan. 30. That was the third loss in four games for the Bruins and the second in a row after a promising win at Arizona on Jan. 24. The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in scoring with 76.8 points per game and are second with a 46.5 shooting percentage, but those numbers are down to 70.5 points and 41.5 percent over the last four games. Jordan Adams, a 45 percent shooter for the season, is shooting only 38.8 percent over the last four, and Kyle Anderson is shooting only 32.4 percent during the recent slide. The Bruins are also struggling defensively, having allowed opponents to shoot 44.3 percent from the field over the last four games and have held only one of its last four opponents under 45 percent. Freshman Shabazz Muhammad leads the Bruins in scoring at 18.4 points per game and is coming off of a 22-point effort against USC despite battling flu symptoms. Travis Wear returned from a concussion and scored 16 points against USC. He’s averaged 18.25 points on 61.2 percent shooting in the last four full games he has played.

Scouting the Huskies: Washington has been among the streakiest teams in the Pac-12 since conference play began. The Huskies started league play with four consecutive wins -- three of them on the road -- and then proceeded to lose four in a row before ending that streak with a win over Arizona State on Saturday. The Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of the team reared its head over the weekend when Washington scored a season-low 53 points in a loss to Arizona and then scored a season-high 96 in defeating the Sun Devils. The Huskies average 69.9 points per game, but defense has been the biggest issue for them. They are giving up 67.3 points per game, which is 10th in the Pac-12, and they are allowing opponents to shoot a conference-worst 43.5 percent from the field. Aziz N’Diaye, a 7-foot center, is among the conference’s top rebounders with 9.3 per game and sharpshooting guard C.J. Wilcox is fifth in the conference with 18.2 points per game. He leads the conference with 55 3-pointers made. Four Washington players average in double figures scoring with guards Scott Suggs (12.2) and Abdul Gaddy (11.1) joining Wilcox and N’Diaye (10.7).

The series: UCLA leads the all-time series, 92-40. The teams split the season series last year with Washington winning, 71-69, in Seattle and UCLA winning, 75-69, in the regular-season finale at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

Fast Fact: UCLA will retire the No. 11 jersey of Don Barksdale at halftime of the game. Barksdale, a 6-6 forward/center, was a pioneer for his race in basketball. He became the first African-American to be named a collegiate All-American when he earned the honor in 1947. He broke the color barrier for the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 1948 and in 1953 became the first black player to play in an NBA All Star game. Barksdale, who died in 1993, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and joins Reggie Miller and Jamaal Wilkes as players to have their numbers retired by UCLA this year.

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2013 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
B. Hundley369248307124
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
B. Hundley1607484.711
P. Perkins1345734.36
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
S. Evans4770915.19
D. Fuller4347111.04
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense196.6251.6448.2
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring36.524.112.4