After winning at USC on Thursday night, Utah entered Saturday’s game at UCLA with some confidence and they played that way in the first half. Despite Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright combining to score just four points the Utes trailed by just two points at the half, 33-31. With that being the case, Larry Krystkowiak’s team had to be optimistic about their chances of leaving Pauley Pavilion with a win that would look good on their resume.
Unfortunately for Utah they failed to take care of the basketball to start the second half, resulting in a 14-0 UCLA run that gave the Bruins complete control of the game. UCLA would go on to win 80-66, with Jordan Adams scoring 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. He wasn’t the only standout on this afternoon, as Kyle Anderson added 16 points, ten rebounds and five assists, and Norman Powell accounted for 13 points.
Powell’s progression this season may be overlooked by some, but he has been one of the Pac-12’s most improved players. After averaging just 6.1 points per game as a sophomore Powell’s up to 11.3 ppg this season, shooting nearly 56% from the field. And against Utah, two of his points came on the one-handed dunk over Dallin Bachynski that can be viewed at the top of this post.
Players such as Adams and Anderson will lead the way as UCLA looks to chase down No. 2 Arizona, which currently holds a one-game lead over the Bruins in the Pac-12 standings. But the play of supplementary pieces such as Powell will be important as well.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.