UCLA Basketball: Best and Worst Moments from Bruins so Far
As it approaches its final nonconference game against Alabama on Saturday, UCLA has already had a season of ups and downs.
Even before the start of Pac-12 conference play, the Bruins have had their fair share of excitement and disappointment, elation and despair.
With plenty more to come in conference play and beyond, let’s take a look at the best and worst moments of UCLA’s 2013-14 season so far.
Best: Kyle Anderson's Triple-Double
Kyle Anderson etched his name into UCLA history when the Bruins took on Morehead State in November at Pauley.
Although the Bruins won unconvincingly against a very mediocre mid-major, Anderson recorded a triple-double that night (13 PTS, 12 REB, 11 AST), the first of his career.
In achieving the rare feat, the 6'9" guard became the first UCLA player to record a triple-double since Toby Bailey notched a triple-double in 1995, when the Bruins brought their most recent national title to Westwood.
Twelve games into the season, Anderson has tallied six double-doubles, thrice coming within three assists of registering another triple-double.
Worst: Sidelined Freshmen
While UCLA has received plenty of production from freshman guards Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford, there’s another duo of freshmen that would be contributing to the Bruins this season had it not been for unfortunate happenings.
Before the Bruins even began the season, they lost hyped guard Isaac Hamilton, whose eligibility was disallowed for the 2013-14 season because UTEP, the school he formerly committed to, wouldn’t release him from his commitment.
Two weeks later, Noah Allen, a guard-forward who could have given UCLA some good minutes, became sidelined indefinitely with a facial injury he sustained during a game. His timetable for recovery has yet to be determined.
UCLA’s bench has done well this season, but a few extra bodies to add some depth would help fortify the team.
Best: First Half of Missouri & Duke Games
In its first real test of the 2013-14 season, UCLA played an excellent first half of basketball against Missouri, outscoring the Tigers 43-35 on their home court.
The Bruins controlled momentum heading in the locker room at halftime and appeared to be headed toward a defining victory.
While UCLA didn't necessarily control the first half of its game against No. 8 Duke, the Bruins were neck-and-neck with the Blue Devils and were tied at 37 at the half.
Unfortunately, UCLA didn't play up to par in the second half of either of those games, which ended with disappointing conclusions for the Bruins; however, they put themselves in a good position to win those tough games with well-played first halves.
Worst: Second Half of Missouri & Duke Games
If the first half of UCLA's games against Missouri and Duke were all that counted, the Bruins would've been content with the results, but the second half was a sharp drop-off for UCLA in both games.
After being up against Missouri and tied with Duke at the half, UCLA collapsed in the second halves of both big games.
The Bruins came out strong immediately out of the locker room in both contests, but between five and 10 minutes into the second half, they came undone as a unit and began shooting poorly under pressure.
Against Missouri, UCLA shot 26 percent from the field after shooting 50 percent in the first half and didn't make a three in the second half. Similarly, against Duke, the Bruins' field-goal shooting dropped (45% to 35%) and they only made two threes (2-for-12) after draining six (6-for-10) in the first half.
Best: Zach LaVine's Windmill
From the moment he stepped into Pauley Pavilion, Zach LaVine has been showcasing his explosive, high-flying dunks.
His emphatic slams consistently pump up the crowd, and more importantly, his fellow teammates, which immediately gives UCLA a boost of energy, usually when it's in dire need of momentum.
While he's demonstrated some incredible athleticism and springy hops in his freshman season, no dunk stands out more than his awe-inspiring windmill against Missouri.
Worst: Tony Parker's 12-Minute Foul-out
Sophomore center Tony Parker appeared to have unearthed his limitless potential when he had a career night with 21 points and 12 rebounds in UCLA’s second game of the season, but that has proven to be a mirage.
Parker’s development at the collegiate level has been stunted by foul trouble, which he usually finds himself in due to poor defensive play.
Although he’s improved slightly from his freshman season, Parker’s proven that he still has plenty of ground yet to cover before he realizes his potential.
In UCLA’s matchup against Northwestern in November, Parker fouled out in a mere 12 minutes on the court and was very ineffective during the minutes he was on the floor.
Parker was 1-for-5 that game with only a pair of points, and his disqualifying foul total of five was his highest stat of the night.
Best: Three-Pointing Shooting vs. Northwestern
Under Steve Alford thus far, UCLA has been a significantly more accurate shooting team.
After shooting 45 percent from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc last season, the Bruins are shooting 53 percent from the field and 40 percent from three through 12 games.
UCLA put on a shooting clinic in its victory over Northwestern, shooting 64 percent from the field and a superb 77 percent from three (13-for-17).
Every guard apart from Norman Powell had at least two threes and freshman spark plugs Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford had four threes a piece on a collective 8-for-9 from deep.
The Bruins were even more lights-out in the first half, shooting 76 percent from the field (19-for-25) and sinking 82 percent of their threes (9-for-11).
Worst: Travis Wear's Slow Start
After asserting himself as a reliable offensive contributor in his junior season, Travis Wear has had a rough time getting back into his usual form in his senior season.
Wear was sidelined for UCLA’s first trio of games due to appendicitis and he still has yet to reach the level of play he attained last season even after playing nine games in his final season in Westwood.
The 6’10” forward, who averaged 10.9 points in his junior season, is putting up a mere 5.7 points per game and is shooting a measly 42 percent from the field.
Wear has had spurts of above-average play dispersed throughout the games he’s played so far, but he has had a very minimal impact on the Bruins so far.
Going forward, UCLA needs him to step up on both ends of the floor if the Bruins are to have the kind of success they’ve set out to achieve.
Best: David Wear vs. Duke
There have been a handful of impressive performances from UCLA this season from the likes of Jordan Adams, Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson, but none came as a more pleasant surprise than David Wear’s performance against Duke.
Although Wear averaged 10 points in his sophomore season—his first season at UCLA—the 6’10” forward had a very mediocre junior season, averaging seven points per game coming off the bench for the Bruins.
While he’s remained an average player in his senior season, Wear came up big in the Bruins’ important nonconference matchup against Duke.
Facing one of the premier teams in the nation, Wear had his best performance of the season, putting in 16 points on 6-of-7 from the floor.
Even though UCLA eventually lost the game, Wear supplied the Bruins with vital boosts of momentum with a career-high four threes.