UCLA (3-2) returns seven letterwinners and three starters off last
season’s team, which went 14-18 and 8-10 in the Pac-10. Head coach Ben Howland’s Bruins won their first three games this year against Cal
State Northridge, Pepperdine, and Pacific before losing their last two
contests to Villanova (82-70) and VCU (89-85) at Madison Square Garden
in New York in the 2010 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off.
Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson is the team’s big gun who averages a
double-double with 17.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore
forward Tyler Honeycutt is next in scoring (14.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg,
team-high eight three-pointers), followed by junior guard Lazeric Jones
(12.6 ppg, team-best 20 assists), junior guard Malcom Lee (11.5 ppg),
freshman center Joshua Smith (7.4 ppg), sophomore forward Brendan Lane
(5.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), freshman guard Tyler Lamb (3.8 ppg) and junior
guard Jerime Anderson (2.6 ppg).
UCLA averages 74.8 points per game and allows 66.8. The Bruins are
shooting 49.1 percent from the field, 33.8 percent from beyond the arc,
and 66 percent at the free-throw line. They’re holding foes to 38.5
percent shooting and 28.9 percent from three-point range, while
outrebounding opponents 38.6 to 34.6 boards per game. UCLA is also
averaging 16.8 assists per contest.
Howland hopes the young Bruins will show steady improvement throughout
“This is a process,” Howland told the Daily Bruin after the loss to VCU
last Friday. “We’re playing without a senior on our club. … We have a
lot of growth we have to make with our younger players.”
SELF ON UCLA
KU coach Bill Self said this is an improved Bruins’ team which fell to
the Jayhawks last season at Pauley Pavilion, 73-61.
"They're a lot better,” Self said. “They have their main players back
from last year, plus they have added some nice pieces to the puzzle.
Reeves Nelson and Honeycutt are off to a great start. If I'm not
mistaken, I think that may have been Honeycutt's last game back when we
played them last year. He is going to be a really good player, and
certainly they are getting better guard play.
“They are much better, and (Howland) will coach them up. They will
certainly guard well. It will be a game where there are very few easy
baskets. I'm excited and our guys will be excited about playing
arguably as storied of a basketball program as there is in the country."
This game will indeed be a battle of two of the most storied programs
in college basketball. KU ranks third in NCAA Division I history in
all-time wins with 2,009, while UCLA ranks eighth with 1,689 victories.
The Bruins have won 11 NCAA titles and appeared in 17 Final Fours,
while KU has won five national championships and been to 13 Final
Fours. Hall of Famer and former KU coach Larry Brown also coached at
UCLA from 1979-81, leading the Bruins to the national title game in
1980. Brown then guided KU to the Final Four in 1986 and a national
championship in ‘88.
UCLA leads the all-time series with Kansas, 10-5. The series dates back
to 1958 with UCLA winning the first eight meetings and KU winning five
of the last seven. Five of the 15 matchups have come in the NCAA
Tournament with UCLA winning each time. The teams last met in the Big
Dance in 2007 in San Jose, Calif., in the West Regional Finals, as the
Bruins won, 68-55.
REMEMBERING LAST YEAR’S UCLA GAME
KU won at UCLA, 73-61, on Dec. 6 last season to go 7-0, while the
Bruins dropped to 2-5. Markieff Morris led KU with 19 points (8-11 FG)
in just 21 minutes, while Xavier Henry (16 points) and Sherron Collins
(14) also scored in double digits. Kansas held the Bruins to just 36.1
percent shooting, while outrebounding them, 43-36.
“I think Markieff was our best player in the game,” Self said. “We
didn’t play great and they didn’t play great, but it was a good win for
us. Any time you go on the road and win, it’s good. It was a good win,
but certainly one in which we certainly didn’t play our best. They were
going through some stuff last year at that particular time.”
GREAT START FOR MCMORRIS
Marcus Morris is off to a great start this season. He was named
Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Nov. 29 following his Las
Vegas Invitational MVP honors. Morris leads KU in scoring and ranks
fourth in the Big 12 at 19.0 points per game. His 67.7 shooting
percentage is also third in the league.
“He deserves that,” Self said of Morris being selected Big 12 Player of
the Week. “He’s shooting (close to) 70 percent. Marcus has been great
offensively. (Against Arizona), he scored facing the basket. He scored
from deep. He scored mid-range. He scored on post moves. He really has
demonstrated his versatility. I doubt there has been anybody in our
league that has had a better week or start to the season than he has.”