Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bruins Step Up Defense In Win Over Ducks

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

UCLA stepped up its defensive intensity in the second-half to rally from behind to beat Oregon, 75-65, before a crowd of 11,355 at Pauley Pavilion.

For the first thirty minutes of the contest, the Bruins played lethargically on both ends of the court and allowing the upset-minded Ducks to take the early initiative. When Oregon's Tajuan Porter hit a three-pointer with 4 seconds remaining in the first half, it gave the Ducks a 34-31 going into the locker room.

Many times this season, the Bruins have come out blazing to start the second-half after following behind early, but this time they came out with the same lethargy that plagued them in the first-half with the Ducks extending the lead to as wide as eleven points.

But then UCLA finally regrouped and found its voice in its defense. Applying intense pressure on the ball and aggressively playing the passing lanes, the Bruins began to force turnovers against the Ducks. UCLA went on a quick 6-0 run to cut the lead to just five, which was capped off by a steal and rousing dunk by Russell Westbrook that ignited the Pauley crowd.

The Bruins continued with a 12-5 run to finally catch the Ducks at 54-53 with just under six minutes remaining as Darren Collison stole the ball and got it up court to Westbrook for another crowd pleasing slam. It was UCLA's first lead since the opening minutes of the game.

For the game, the Bruins forced the Ducks into 19 turnovers.

Down the stretch, UCLA scored 10 of its last 12 points from the free throw line to secure the victory and series sweep of the Ducks .

Oregon's Tajuan Porter sparked his team early with hot outside shooting, but as he has done in previous games, his poor decision-making and propensity to take difficult shots cost the Ducks precious possessions in the second half when the team tried to withstand the fierce Bruin rally.

Darren Collison scored a team-high 17 points and Russell Westbrook added 16 points and five assists. Collison and Westbrook combined for seven steals to ignite the second-half Bruin rally.

Although UCLA finished with 50% field goal shooting, often the team struggled scoring from its halfcourt set. Similar to their past two contests, the offense spent too much of the shot clock dribbling or passing the ball on the perimeter, many times being forced to take difficult shots as the clock ran out.

Some of the team's difficulties on offense are attributable to opponents stacking up the paint to take away touches from center Kevin Love and coinciding with the Bruins' recent struggles with their perimeter shooting.

UCLA finished just 2 of 8 on three-pointers.

Junior Josh Shipp scored 10 points but he missed his only three-point shot attempt of the game and extending his drought from outside to 0 for 20 over the past five games. If the Bruins are to go deep into the tourney, they'll need Shipp to find his range soon and become a threat again.

Despite not playing one of his best games, Kevin Love still managed to finish with another double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Love also contributed two length of the court outlet passes leading to easy scores during the Bruins' late rally. He had an uncharacteristically tough night at the line, making just 7 of 12.

The Bruins (24-3, 12-2) will pack their bags next week for a trip to the desert for tough match-ups against Arizona State and Arizona.

(photo credit: AP)


Friday, February 22, 2008

UCLA vs. Oregon - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

No.6 ranked UCLA (23-3, 11-2) plays host to the Oregon Ducks in a Saturday afternoon contest at Pauley Pavilion. 

Oregon with an overall record of 15-11 and 6-8 in conference play are tied for eighth with Washington in the Pac-10 race.

With three starting seniors in the line-up, much was expected of the Ducks this season, instead the team has been a disappointment, suffering from inconsistent play and lack of direction.  Its doubtful at this point the team will receive an NCAA bid to the tournament.  It is rumored Oregon Coach Ernie Kent's job may be in jeopardy after this season's performance.

On Thursday night, after leading the Trojans by double-digits for most of the game, the Ducks squandered away their lead and eventually the contest, bowing to USC 81-75.

This season Oregon has five players averaging double-digits in scoring.  The team averages 77.7 points per game, second-best in the Pac-10, on 48.2% field goal shooting and 38.8% on three-pointers.

Forward Malik Hairston (6'6, 220, Sr) is scoring a team-best 16.4 points on 52.2% shooting.  Hairston arrived in Eugene four years ago heralded as one of the top prep players in the nation, however, his career hasn't turned out the way he, or others, had expected. 

Not quick enough on the perimeter nor big enough to dominate inside, Hairston was never able to find his niche in Oregon.   

Josh Shipp will be matched-up with Hairston in the game.  Shipp is struggling with his outside shooting, missing his last 19 three-point shots.  He'll look to end his drought on Saturday.

Senior forward/center Maarty Leunen (6'9, 220, Sr) is leading the team again in rebounds at 9.3 per game while averaging 15.0 points on 55.8% shooting.  He is a danger out to the three-point line, shooting 48.4% on three-pointers. 

An undersized center, Leunen has had to anchor the middle for most of his career in Oregon by himself without much help from other big bodies.

Leunen had a tough time matching up against Kevin Love in the first match-up between the two teams.  Love scored 26 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in UCLA's 80-75 win in Eugene earlier in January.

Athletic Bryce Taylor (6'4, 210, Sr) is averaging 13.7 points on 48.3 shooting.  The Ducks' best defender, Taylor usually takes on the opponent's best offensive wing.  Taylor has also been prolific from beyond the arc, hitting 40.5% of his shots.

Taylor can carry the team when he has it going, but can disappear for stretches of the game as well. Russell Westbrook and Taylor will likely lock horns all afternoon long.

Joevan Catron (6'6, 205, So), a wide-body forward, played minimal minutes against UCLA in the last contest after returning from a foot injury.  Catron is averaging 10.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.  He may spell Leunen at times to guard Love in the post.

UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely see most of his time against Catron in this game.  Mbah a Moute missed the first contest between the two teams in Eugene due to a concussion he had suffered earlier in the week.

Point-guard Tajuan Porter (5'6, 150, So) averages 13.5 points and 2.5 assists.  A three-point specialist who can shoot his team in or out of games depending on whether his shooting is on.  For the most part this season, Porter has been inconsistent with his main weapon, averaging just 34.1% on three-pointers despite taking the most attempts on the team.

Although not committing as many turnovers as he did at the start of the season, Porter still has a tendency to make bad decisions - not a good trait for a team's starting point guard.  Oregon definitely misses former Duck Aaron Brook's leadership and performance at the point.

The Oregon Ducks have the talent to play and win against any Pac-10 team on the road.  If the Bruins take this game too lightly or begin with low intensity and energy, Oregon could surprise them and make this a closer game than expected. 

There is a lot of pride on the line for this game, especially since a number of Oregon players, including Bryce Taylor, played high school ball in the Los Angeles area.

UCLA vs Oregon
Time: 12:30 PM PT
Place: Pauley Pavilion
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: OU Athletics)


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bruins Cruise Past Beavers, 84-49

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score | Photo Gallery

Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 17 points and Darren Collison added 14 to lead UCLA to a thrashing of the Oregon State Beavers, 84-49, before 9,727 at Pauley Pavilion. 

Westbrook and Collison also combined for 16 assists in the game with Westbrook dishing out 7 and Collison recording a game-high 9 dimes.

In reality, the game was over before it even started.

A once proud program is in shambles due to ineffectual coaching and player desertions from the squad.  This season, the hapless Beavers (0-14, 6-20) do not have near the talent nor coaching to compete in the Pac-10 conference.

The Bruins (23-3, 11-2) jumped out to an early 10-4 lead shortly after tip-off and built it up to 49-27 by halftime.  In the second half, UCLA extended the lead to its biggest margin of 36.

Oregon State shot just 34.5% from the field.  They were outrebounded by UCLA, 39-20.  Guard Josh Tarver was the only Beaver scoring in double figures, finishing with 10 points.

UCLA shot 55.2% and was 5 of 14 from beyond the arc for 35.7%. 

Josh Shipp, mired in a shooting slump, continued his poor shooting from three-point land, missing on all four of his long-distance attempts.  Its obvious Shipp has lost some confidence with his shooting, in the game he appeared apprehensive to shoot whenever an outside opportunity was available to him. He finished with just 6 points.

Freshman Kevin Love barely missed another double-double going for 11 points and 9 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had another solid game, finishing with 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting and hauled down 7 rebounds.

No Bruin played over 29 minutes in the contest. 

By the mid-seven minute mark in the second half, UCLA Coach Ben Howland had removed all his starters and the seats in Pauley Pavilion began emptying.

Reserve James Keefe had perhaps one of his best games since returning to the roster.  Keefe finished with 6 points and 7 rebounds, and just as importantly, looked more comfortable in the flow of the team's offense and defense. 

Senior Lorenzo Mata-Real played 18 minutes off the bench, scoring 11 points and blocking 3 shots.  In two consecutive possessions, Mata-Real scored one basket off a nice left-handed hook, and then next time down he scored on a right handed hook.

Walk-on Matt Lee helped to cap off the Bruins' scoring for the night with an alley-oop pass to freshman Chace Stanback for a slam dunk off a break.

UCLA will now prepare for their game against Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.  The Ducks dropped their Thursday night contest to USC at the Galen Center, 81-75.

(photo credit: AP)


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

UCLA vs. Oregon State - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

No.6 ranked UCLA hosts the Oregon State Beavers in a Pac-10 conference contest on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Last Sunday, the Bruins (22-3, 10-2) avenged an early season loss to the USC Trojans, defeating them at the Galen Center, 56-46. Kevin Love had 13 points and 11 rebounds while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added a double-double himself with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

The reeling Beavers (6-19, 0-13) arrive in Westwood winless in Pac-10 conference play. In January, Oregon State dismissed their coach Jay Johns and replaced him with interim coach Kevin Mouton.

The Beavers fall to UCLA in the first meeting between the two squads as the Bruins won 85-62 in Corvallis earlier this year. Darren Collison led the UCLA attack with 33 points and Love added a career-high 21 rebounds.

Oregon State is in the midst of a 15-game losing streak and things don't look to get any better this week on their trip to Southern California. Last week, the Beavers dropped a pair of home contests to Washington and Washington State.

Coach Mouton's Beavers are averaging 60.9 points a game while giving up 68.2 points to opponents. For the season, Oregon State is shooting an anemic 38.1% from the field and 29.7% on three-pointers.

One aspect the Beavers have improved upon this season is turnovers, the team is averaging just 12.6 per game - third best in the Pac-10.

The OSU basketball program is in deep transition. The current Beaver roster is completely different from last season's team due to early departures and player transfers, and the struggling program is looking for stars to emerge.

One player who has shined since the start of Pac-10 play is freshman Omari Johnson (6'7, 205, Fr). He's averaging 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds. Two weeks ago against Arizona, the freshman scored a career-high 18 points.

Shooting guard Seth Tarver (6'5, 205, so) continues to lead the Beavers in scoring on the season with 11.1 per game. He's also second on the team in rebounds with 5.0 a contest. The athletic Tarver has bounced back from an injury plagued year and has shown glimpses of a potential star in the making.

Marcel Jones (6'8, 220, Sr) was expected to be a mainstay of the team this season, instead its been a very disappointing senior year for the former Mater Dei star. Jones is averaging 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds - well below his numbers as a junior. With the team looking to a new direction, Jones has seen his minutes diminish.

Moreover, Jones may be benched for the UCLA game due to a one game suspension he may be serving for taunting during a game last week against Washington.

Sophomore Josh Tarver (6'3, 185, So) has struggled at point-guard all season, in particular with his shooting where he is hitting on just 32.6% of his shots and 22.4% on three-pointers.

UCLA has won six straight in the series with the Beavers and they own an impressive 45-7 mark against Oregon State in games played in Los Angeles. Winning No.46 should not be a problem for the Bruins Thursday night.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the game on Thursday for UCLA is to remain injury-free. Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played 33 minutes against USC in his return from a sprained ankle. In reports from practice, he said his ankle felt better and experienced no lingering effects from the injury after the USC game.

Junior Josh Shipp hopes to break out of a recent shooting slump. After hitting 5 of 8 on three-pointers against Arizona State in a game at the end of January, Shipp has gone 0 of 15 from beyond the arc in February as teams have begun focusing their defenses on stopping him.

UCLA vs Oregon St.
Time: 7:30 PM PT
Place: Pauley Pavilion
TV: FSN West
Radio: AM 570

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(photo credit: OSU Athetics)


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kyle Caldwell: 6'9 UCLA Volleyball Commit

Since printing a news excerpt on 6'9 UCLA volleyball commit Kyle Caldwell in our weekly Prep News Roundup, we've received numerous requests for more information on the Newport Harbor HS center. Below is an excellent article on Caldwell from the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot

Note: Last December, Caldwell signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at UCLA.

By David Carrillo Peñaloza
Daily Pilot

Caldwell takes licking, keeps on scoring

[reprinted with permission]


Kyle Caldwell hung on the rim, like King Kong on the Empire State Building.

He earned the right well before dunking. On his way to a record night, the 6-foot-9 Newport Harbor High center didn’t let go of the rim until those below scattered.

“I didn’t want [to get hurt],” he said. “Or hurt them.”

Caldwell already had, so many times that those Marina fans, clad in white T-shirts, could’ve made more use of their shirts by throwing them on the court.

At least they’d have a shot at an autograph from Caldwell.

Against a team that runs up and down the basketball court to shoot three-pointers, Caldwell kept up. Sure Marina hit 17 threes and Caldwell none.

But his 47 points offset whatever Marina did, as the senior set the school’s single-game scoring mark in the Sailors’ 81-71 Sunset League victory last Friday.

“I loved it,” Caldwell said of the atmosphere created by the host fans, especially the section dubbing itself “3-point Nation.”

The fans badgered Caldwell, the biggest player on the floor, who also had the biggest rebounding total (20).

Against a team with a bunch of 5-foot-9, 160-pound guards, Caldwell looked as if he were on “The Biggest Loser” with having to constantly sprint from one end to the other. Not that Caldwell needs to shed pounds. He’s a lean 220 pounds and the go-to guy at Newport Harbor (12-9, 2-3 in league).

Still, for a big man, Caldwell showed how well in shape he’s in when he broke the Sailors’ previous record of 43 points in a game set by Justin McIntee during the 1991-92 season.

“I think [what’s] pretty amazing is the fact that he takes the ball out of bounds for us, which means he’s the last guy down the court,” Newport Harbor Coach Larry Hirst said. “In an up-tempo game, that’s usually not very conducive for getting shot attempts.”

“The fact that he could get that many points without shooting any threes is a tribute to his teammates getting him the ball and him getting down the floor as many times as humanly possible in that tempo of a game.”

Caldwell isn’t one to lag behind, one reason he said he’s been nominated to play in the McDonald’s All-American game in Milwaukee on March 26. Big news for someone headed to UCLA to play volleyball.

As much as he’s talented, averaging 21.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game, both Newport-Mesa bests, to go with 5.8 assists per game, Hirst credits Caldwell’s work ethic. For this, Hirst calls Caldwell one of his top five players in his 13 years at Newport Harbor.

The praise comes from everywhere, his peers to old-school fans who remember his late grandfather, George Yardley, a Hall of Fame basketball player, who became the first NBA player to score 2,000 points in a season in 1957-58.

Even the opposition gives Caldwell props. Esperanza Coach Jason Pietsch named Caldwell the best player in the competitive Sunset League. This after the Aztecs on Jan. 4 hammered away at Caldwell, forcing him afterward to the emergency room at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian with a gash near his left eye, a cut below his right knee and a busted lip.

“I was kind of upset about that,” said Caldwell, adding what hurt more was seeing Esperanza win the league opener, 56-46, that night. “It’s not fun. I got my eye super-glued shut. It looked OK [before the hospital visit]. But I’m glad that I did [go] because now it feels fine.

“If I would’ve left it, it still would’ve been scabbing up and it still would’ve been [susceptible to] bleeding.”

That might change tonight as Esperanza is at Newport Harbor. With the second half of league starting and the Aztecs (14-8, 4-1) in second place, this should be another battle. Caldwell said he’s ready to face the Aztecs’ big men, 6-5 Kyle Pascual and 6-6 Lloyd Birtles, again.

“It’s their game plan. They can do whatever they want. If they want to get their guys fouled out, that’s their issue,” said Caldwell, referring to Pietsch instructing Pascual and Birtles to use their five fouls on Caldwell in the last meeting. “If they’re going to play physical, you just kind of have to accept the fact that they’re going to play physical. You just got to deal with it and work around it.

“I’ll have a little chip on my shoulder just remembering last time.”

(photo credit: Daily Pilot)


Holiday and Lee Named 2008 McDonald All-Americans

By Bruin Basketball Report

Two members from UCLA's 2008 elite freshmen class, Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee, have been named to the McDonald's All-American team.

Jrue Holiday, a silky smooth 6'3 guard from Campbell Hall HS, is averaging 25.8 points on 60% field goal shooting, and hands out 6.9 assists per game. He also averages 11.5 rebounds, tops on the Vikings team.

From John W. North HS in Riverside, Malcolm Lee is averaging 24.2 on 57% shooting, 3.3 assists, and 2.6 steals. The 6'4 165 lb guard leads the Huskies in rebounding with 7.7 caroms per game.

Last year, UCLA was represented on the McDonald's All-American team by center Kevin Love from Lake Oswego HS in Oregon.

The McDonald's All-American game will be held on March 26th at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

Complete List of 2008 McDonald All-American Team


5 Luke Babbitt, F, 6-8, 225
Galena HS, NV (Reno, NV) Coll: Nevada

24 Demar DeRozan, F, 6-6, 210
Compton HS, CA (Compton, CA) Coll: USC

22 Larry Drew II, G, 6-0, 160
William Howard Taft HS, CA (Encino, CA) Coll: North Carolina

33 Michael Dunigan, C, 6-10, 248
Farragut Career Academy, IL (Chicago, IL) Coll: Oregon

21 Jrue Holiday, G, 6-4, 195
Campbell Hall HS, CA (Chatsworth, CA) Coll: UCLA

31 Scotty Hopson, G, 6-5, 180
University Heights Academy, KY (Hopkinsville, KY) Coll: Undecided

3 Brandon Jennings, G, 6-1, 165
Oak Hill Academy, VA (Los Angeles, CA) Coll: Arizona

11 Malcolm Lee, G, 6-4, 165
John W. North HS, CA (Moreno Valley, CA) Coll: UCLA

10 Greg Monroe, F, 6-10, 235
Helen Cox HS, LA (Gretna, LA) Coll: Georgetown

32 B.J. Mullens, C, 7-1, 260
Canal Winchester HS, OH (Canal Winchester, OH) Coll: Ohio St.

1 Iman Shumpert, G, 6-4, 200
Oak Park-River Forest HS, IL (Oak Park, IL) Coll: Georgia Tech

12 Willie Warren, G, 6-4, 195
North Crowley HS, TX (Fort Worth, TX) Coll:Oklahoma

Co-Head Coach Tom Diener, Harold S. Vincent HS (Milwaukee, WI)
Co-Head Coach Jim Gosz, Rufus King HS (Milwaukee, WI)
Assistant Coach Marc Mitchell, Custer HS (Milwaukee, WI)


42 Al-Farouq Aminu, F, 6-9, 205
Norcross HS, GA (Norcross, GA) Coll: Wake Forest

44 William Buford, G, 6-5, 185
Libbey HS, OH (Toledo, OH) Coll: Ohio State

32 Ed Davis, F, 6-9, 215
Benedictine HS, VA (Richmond, VA) Coll: North Carolina

1 Tyreke Evans, G, 6-6, 217
American Christian Academy Prep, PA (Chester, PA) Coll: Undecided

50 JaMychal Green, F, 6-9, 220
St. Jude Educational Institute, AL (Montgomery, AL) Coll: Alabama

24 Sylven Landesberg, G, 6-6, 205
Holy Cross HS, NY (Flushing, NY) Coll: Virginia

3 Michael Rosario, G, 6-2, 180
Saint Anthony HS, NJ (Jersey City, NJ) Coll: Rutgers

55 Samardo Samuels, F, 6-9, 230
St. Benedict’s Preparatory, NJ (Montego Bay, Jamaica) Coll: Louisville

31 Chris Singleton, F, 6-9, 225
Dunwoody HS, GA (Dunwoody, GA) Coll: Florida State

15 Kemba Walker, G, 6-0, 175
Rice HS, NY (Bronx, NY) Coll: Connecticut

25 Elliot Williams, G, 6-4, 165
St. George’s Independent School, TN (Memphis, TN) Coll: Duke

40 Tyler Zeller, C, 7-0, 220
Washington HS, IN (Washington, IN) Coll:North Carolina

Head Coach Woodie Jackson, Francis Marion HS (Marion, AL)
Assistant Coach Anthony Trimble, Francis Marion HS (Marion, AL)
Assistant Coach Albert Turner, Jr., Francis Marion HS (Marion, AL)


Monday, February 18, 2008

UCLA Holds Strong At No.6 In Rankings

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA (22-3, 10-2) maintained its spot at No.6 in both the AP and Coaches polls this week. The Bruins defeated the Trojans, 56-46, on Sunday at the Galen Center to stay one-half game ahead of Stanford for first-place in the Pac-10 conference.

The Bruins maintained their RPI ranking at No.7 while the team's SOS improved slightly to No.21.

Two other Pac-10 teams, Stanford (21-4, 10-3) and Washington State (20-5, 8-5) remained in the top 25 polls.

No.9 Stanford split their two games on the road last week, losing to Arizona State and beating Arizona. While the Cougars at No.19 swept both Oregon schools on each of their respective home courts.

In the top five rankings of the polls, with both Duke and Kansas suffering a loss last week, the Tennessee Volunteers (23-2) moved up to No.2 in the polls thereby setting up a potential No.1 vs. No.2 match-up against Memphis next weekend at the Tigers' FedEx Forum.

Memphis is the only undefeated team remaining in Division I, holding a perfect 25-0 record.

Complete Associated Press Poll (AP)
Complete Coaches ESPN/USA Today Poll
Complete Ken Pomeroy RPI Ranking
2007-08 UCLA Rankings Weekly Changes


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (2/18)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Los Osos' fourth-quarter rally came up short as the Grizzlies lost to Riverside Arlington 82-79 on Friday in a Division I-AA playoff game. Sophomore point guard Kendall Williams scored 17 points to lead Los Osos (18-12). Senior forward Derrick Rodgers just missed a triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and senior forward Mychael Blalock finished with eight points and 13 rebounds. SB Sun 2/14

The full roster for the 2008 McDonald's All-American Game will be released on Feb. 19. The McDonald's Game, the nation's premier high school basketball all-star game, will be held in Milwaukee on March 26 at 9:30pm EST. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN....The expected favorites to be named McDonald's All-Americans are Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe, Jrue Holiday, B.J. Mullens, Demar DeRozan, John Riek, Delvon Roe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eloy Vargas, Tyler Zeller, Ed Davis and Elliot Williams. TransWorld News 2/14

Huntington Beach figured Kyle Caldwell would be big trouble, and Caldwell was just that. Caldwell, a 6-foot-9 center for Newport Harbor, scored 26 points. Huntington Beach held Caldwell's teammates to a combined 28 points, and the Oilers beat Newport Harbor, 63-54, Friday in a CIF-Southern Section Division I-A first-round playoff game at Newport Harbor.... Caldwell, who has committed to UCLA for volleyball, had 16 rebounds and six blocked shots. OC Register 2/15

A colleague told me the floppy-haired Reeves Nelson reminded him of former Gonzaga All American and current Charlotte Bobcats’ super-shot Adam Morrison. All such comparisons and build-up had me frothing for the opening tip-off and it took less than a minute for me to see what all the hoopla was about. On his team’s first possession, Nelson got the ball in the block, went baseline and spun in a reverse lay-up. Sweet, I thought. The next time down he buried a three-pointer. Adam Morrison, here we come. But the rest of the quarter, until he swooped in for a fastbreak hoop at the buzzer, Nelson played more like Adonal Foyle. Max Preps 2/16


Ater Majok, a 6-foot-10 forward originally from the Sudan, will visit UConn on March 1 to see the Huskies take on West Virginia. Currently living in Australia, Majok is also considering Kansas, Maryland, UCLA and Baylor. Connecticut Post 2/14

Mason Plumlee grew up cheering for the University of North Carolina's men's basketball team. On Monday, the 6-foot-11 former Warsaw Community High School player was offered a full-ride scholarship by the Tar Heel's biggest rival - the Duke Blue Devils. "The offer from Duke wasn't something I expected," Plumlee said....Among the schools he's most interested in, Plumlee listed Duke, Georgetown, Michigan, UCLA and Indiana. Times-Union 2/14

The Pinewood Prep (22-4, 6-0) boys finished the regular season by knocking off SCISA rival Porter-Gaud, 59-52, behind 19 points and 10 rebounds from Milton Jennings, and 16 points by Ryan Steed. The win clinched another league title for the Panthers, who have won eight in a row. 5 News Live 2/14

It appears as if a couple of schools from the Big 12 Conference have emerged from a group of several powerhouse basketball programs as the early front-runners in the ongoing recruiting battle for Jordan Hamilton of Compton Dominguez, one of the most sought after prospects among the 2009 class. There's a couple of different reports circulating around the Internet leading me to believe Texas is high on his list. However, these quotes, right here, indicate Kansas is a major player as well. Plans for an unofficial visit to Lawrence could be in the works for the 6-foot-7 swingman. UConn and Syracuse have scholarship offers on the table. UCLA and USC are in the mix as well. But for the time being, it looks like everyone in the Hamilton sweepstakes is trailing the big boys from the Big 12. LA Times 2/15

If IU is banned from the NCAA tournament, current high school juniors who made non-binding oral commitments to IU or are considering playing for IU could decide to go elsewhere. Even the four seniors who signed a binding letter of intent in November could ask to be released. "I'm really concerned," said Stephan Van Treese, the state's top-ranked junior and one of the nationally ranked players in his class considering Indiana. "If they have violations that they can't go to the tournament, why would I want to go there? The main thing I want to do when I go to college is play in the tournament. I think a lot of players feel the same way. A lot of people won't want to go there if they can't go to the postseason." USA Today 2/15

Christ School junior Mason Plumlee was surprised to see the large number of Duke students camping outside Cameron Indoor Stadium in "Krzyzewskiville," got to tour the Blue Devils' new practice facility, had his name chanted by the Cameron Crazies and got to sit directly behind the bench for Wednesday's 77-65 victory over Maryland. Summing up the unofficial recruiting visit, the 6-foot-11 forward from Winona Lake, Ind., said Friday, "The (scholarship offer from Duke) obviously meant a lot, but it was pretty fun to actually get to visit the campus and look around. It was a really good visit, I learned a lot more about Duke and got to talk to more of the players and coaches." Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant Chris Collins flew into Arden on Monday and offered a scholarship. But Plumlee reiterated Friday that a commitment to any school, including Duke, is not imminent. Citizen-Times 2/15

The moment Colony's depth caught up with the San Gorgonio High School boys basketball team was exactly when the game got away. The seventh-seeded Titans ripped off a 14-0 fourth-quarter run to end the Spartans' hopes in a 76-63 win in the first round of the CIF-SS DivisionII-AA playoffs Friday night. Colony will play the winner of Sonora and No. 9 seed Vista Murrieta in the second round on Tuesday. Seven Colony players scored at least four points, led by sophomore Tyler Lamb's 20. SB Sun 2/15

(photo credit: Citizen-Times)


Bruins Top Trojans In Brutal Win

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

In his return to the line-up, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to key UCLA to a 56-46 win over the USC Trojans at the Galen Center Sunday night.

Mbah a Moute had missed the last two games due to a sprained ankle he suffered against Arizona and was probable for this contest. Surprisingly, Mbah a Moute played 33 minutes in his return.

The junior forward from the Cameroon also helped to blanket USC forward Davon Jefferson, holding him to just 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting. Jefferson scored 25 points in the first meeting when Mbah a Moute was limited to just 19 minutes due to a concussion he suffered in the first half of the game.

Sunday night's contest at the Galen Center was a slugfest with neither team playing its best brand of basketball.

On too many occasions the Bruins passed the ball around the perimeter late into the shot clock before even making a move to the basket. Often, it resulted in low percentage or forced jump shots.

UCLA shot just 33.9% from the field and only 20% from three-point distance. While the Trojan defense could be credited for shutting them down, it was also a matter of a stagnant Bruin offense that did not move the ball well nor execute effectively in the halfcourt.

The Bruins only had 8 assists in the entire game. Point-guard Darren Collison contributed zero assists although he did chip in a team-high 14 points.

Kevin Love recorded another double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling down 11 rebounds but the freshman only shot 5 of 14. Most of the game he seemed to be tentative in the post as USC's Taj Gibson blocked three of his shots early. At one point in the game, Love had Gibson one-on-one in the low block but decided to pass out rather than challenge the quick-jumping 6'8 Gibson.

Russell Westbrook repeated his poor shooting performance from the first Trojan match-up, going just 2 of 11 for 7 points while Josh Shipp continued his recent shooting slump making just 2 of 7 field goals for 8 points.

Moreover, if one were to just look at the shooting percentage in the game, one might be surprised the Bruins even won on Sunday. USC out-shot their opponent, hitting 46.5% from the field.

The difference in the game?

UCLA took 19 more shot attempts than the USC, which was the result of the Bruins pulling down 19 offensive rebounds versus 5 for the Trojans, and USC committing 22 turnovers while UCLA only had 10 for the game.

USC freshman O.J. Mayo committed 10 of his team's turnovers himself. He was also held to just 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting by Westbrook who played a stellar defensive game.

The Trojans played without guard Daniel Hackett, a player who could have been a difference-maker in the game. As a result, the Trojans played short-handed with four players playing 40 minutes. Taj Gibson led the Trojans with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

With the hard fought victory, the Bruins improved their record to 22-3 overall and a Pac-10 best 10-2 to go a half-game ahead of Stanford. The Trojans dropped to 15-9, 6-6.

The Oregon schools arrive in Westwood this week. The Bruins host the Beavers on Thursday and then the Ducks on Saturday.

(photo credit: AP)


Kapono Defends 3-Point Shooting Crown

By Bruin Basketball Report

Bruin Jason Kapono defended his 3-Point Shooting crown on All-Star Saturday with a record tying final round of 25 points.

Kapono, currently with the NBA's Toronto Raptors, matched three-time winner Craig Hodges' mark of 25 set in 1986, hitting ten straight shots at one point.  He hit all five money balls, worth two points, in the deciding round of the competition.

Cleveland's Daniel Gibson, who made 11 three-pointers in the Rookie Challenge game, finished second with 17 points and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki had 14 in the final round.  Nowitzki was a late-replacement for an injured Kobe Bryant.

Kapono, the NBA's best three-point shooter this season, came prepared for the competition with his silky-smooth delivery from outside.  He is shooting 51% (50-98) from beyond the arc for the Raptors this year.

In other All-Star Saturday festivities, Orlando's Dwight Howard thrilled the crowd with a series of the most creative dunks ever performed in the competition, including a dunk Howard threw down while still behind the backboard. In the Skills Challenge, Utah's Deron Williams beat out New Orleans' Chris Paul.

In the Rookie Challenge game on Friday, Bruin Jordan Farmar scored 17 points and dished out a game-high 12 assists to help lead his Sophomore squad to a 136-109 win past the Rookies.  Fellow Sophomore teammate Daniel Gibson was named MVP of the game.

(photo credit: AP)