When No. 13 UCLA opened the renovated Pauley Pavilion – after 18-months and spending $132 million – the star freshman performance was expected to be from shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad
Instead, Muhammad was ruled ineligible before the game. Luckily, freshman guard Jordan Adams came off the bench to drop a game-high 21 points off 7-of-12 shooting, to go along with eight boards.
The Shabazz Muhammad-less Bruins were able to pull away from Indiana State in the second half to take the first game of the season 86-59
Adams provided a much-needed spark in a slow starting game. The Bruins were able to walk into halftime with a 36-27 lead, aided by an 8-0 run.
The second half is when UCLA got going. The Bruins ended the night with a 23-7 run.
There’s a lot of good and bad that comes from this game:
The good – UCLA won a game without Shabazz Muhammad. Not saying that they won’t need them, they will. But UCLA showed why the freshman class is so highly-touted with solid debuts from Adams and point forward Kyle Anderson.
David and Travis Wear combined for 3o points (13 for David, 17 for Travis). Both bigs were able to knock down mid-range jumpers and remained active and pick-and-roll/pop situations. Fellow North Carolina transfer, Larry Drew played well. He didn’t score the ball, but he had five assists to one turnover. Drew dislocated his finger in the second half, but will be fine, according to multiple reports.
The Bruins also held the Sycamores to a dreadful 31 percent shooting.
The bad – Not having Muhammad clearly tops this list. Josh Smith’s size still remains a question, finishing with five points and five rebounds.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.