Washington v UCLA

UCLA needs David Wear to build on Sunday’s performance at USC

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Already lacking front court depth, UCLA being without the services of forward Travis Wear for their game at cross-city rival USC seemed to give the Trojans a shot at sweeping the season series for the second time in the last four seasons.

However the Bruins (20-7, 10-4) left little doubt on Sunday afternoon, beating the Trojans 75-59 at the Galen Center to keep pace in the loss column with Oregon and No. 12 Arizona (both 11-4) atop the Pac-12 standings.

All five starters reached double figures with Jordan Adams’ 20 points leading the way, and the Bruins assisted on 18 of their 25 field goals. Ben Howland’s team took quality shots for most of the afternoon, something that was an issue in their 75-71 overtime loss to the Trojans on January 30 at Pauley Pavilion.

In regards to UCLA’s prospects down the line a key development was the play of David Wear. Wear, who has struggled for much of the season, produced his first double-double since the season opener with ten points and 11 rebounds. With Travis out of the lineup UCLA needed David to raise his level of play and he did just that.

USC did out-rebound UCLA 42-37, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and scoring 21 second-chance points, but thanks to the play of Wear and Kyle Anderson (11 points, nine rebounds) up front the Bruins weren’t in a great deal of trouble at any point. Tony Parker even gave UCLA some quality minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in 17 minutes of action.

Are there areas in which UCLA needs to improve if they’re to have a productive March? Certainly, especially when considering the USC’s work on the offensive glass and the fact that the Bruins entered the game dead last in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding percentage (67.2%).

But David Wear being more productive (and confident) needs to happen if the Bruins are to win the program’s first Pac-12 regular season title since 2008.

If David can build on Sunday’s outing, the Bruins will end up gaining something of value from Travis Wear’s absence.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

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“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.