Tony Parker led five Bruins in double figures with 16 points and five boards has UCLA avoided yet another second half collapse, holding on to beat Alabama 75-67 in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night.
Kyle Anderson once again stuffed the stat sheet for the Bruins, chipping in with 13 points, six boards, seven assists, two steals and a block.
The Bruins had developed a nasty habit of second half collapses against quality competition. They were run out of the gym in the final stanza against both Missouri and Duke. It looked like that might happen on Saturday as well, as the Crimson Tide used a 9-0 spurt early in the second half to take a 43-39 lead, but UCLA responded with 10 straight to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Trevor Releford had 34 points to lead Alabama after coming off the bench which included five straight that he scored with two minutes left to tie the game at 67. But Tony Parker hit two free throws with 56 seconds left to give UCLA the lead back, and Releford would only get a touch on one of the next three possessions as the Tide failed to score again.
I’m not convinced that UCLA is going to be good enough to compete for a Pac-12 title. They have as much talent, particularly on the perimeter, as any team in the country, but I’m not sold on their ability to defend dynamic ball-handlers. This is a team that has to play zone because their point guard is a 6-foot-9 forward nicknamed ‘Slo-Mo’. The other concern is interior play, but if Parker can find a way to continue to play the way he did tonight, the big bodies on the front lines of Arizona and Oregon before a little bit less of a concern.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.