UCLA improved to 18-6 overall and 8-3 in Pac-12 conference play over the weekend with a 14-point victory in New Pauley against Washington State.
It wasn’t a very inspired win, but a much-improved display from the Bruins’ lackluster, sloppy play against Washington. Such recent struggles seem like distant history since redshirt senior point guard Larry Drew II drained a step-back jumper at the buzzer to win the game.
Yet, despite UCLA’s average record and mixed collection of quality wins, this team has fallen short of expectations.
With the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation that boasted four Top 50 recruits, including the No. 1 overall recruit Shabazz Muhammad, in addition to the fact North Carolina transfer Drew's manning point guard for the Bruins, this team was expected to do some serious damage.
Bruins fans weren’t the only ones who felt that way.
UCLA’s top-notch recruiting class boosted Coach Ben Howland’s team to No. 13 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches preseason polls and the team was consistently mentioned as a legitimate NCAA Championship contender.
Three months and a few nauseating rollercoaster rides later, this team is nowhere near achieving that goal.
The peculiar concoction of unsettling home losses to Cal-Poly and USC and wins over then-Top-10 Missouri and Arizona doesn’t sit well on the stomach on the stomach of a team that showed so much promise heading into the season.
So, what exactly is the deal with UCLA? Why is this team struggling to meet its original expectations?