UCLA Bruins players Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams have been suspended for Thursday's Pac-12 showdown with Oregon for violating team rules.
BruinsReportOnline.com broke the news, citing a previous report by David Woods, whose sources with knowledge of the situation initially gave him the scoop on the suspensions:
OC Register's Ryan Kartje provides further context to the decision:
It's been a mostly successful maiden season at the helm of the historic UCLA program for head coach Steve Alford, but losing two key contributors for such a big conference matchup hurts his squad's cause.
The sophomore guard Adams leads UCLA with 17.2 points per contest, and his classmate Anderson is an all-around dynamic point guard and unique in that he stands at a towering 6'9" tall.
Anderson has posted averages of 14.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists thus far in 2013-14. He and Adams have driven the Bruins to second place in the conference, behind only AP No. 3-ranked Arizona.
Earlier on Thursday, Anderson was named as one of 15 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding player in men's college basketball, per the Bruins' official athletics website.
The Wildcats aren't giving much ground, so this game serves as a great chance for UCLA to hold court in the friendly confines of Pauley Pavilion against an inferior opponent. Or at least it did, because now the Ducks' chances of pulling off an upset have increased considerably.
Oregon was already going to play hungry, as it is in its faint bid for a berth in the NCAA tournament at 18-8 and 6-8 in the Pac-12. However, notching a key road victory against the Bruins (21-6, 10-4 in Pac-12) without Adams and Anderson wouldn't bolster the Ducks' profile all that much, as Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Eisenberg alluded to:
Sophomore big man Tony Parker scored 13 points in the team's last game—an 83-74 road loss to Stanford, and spoke about how significant the defeat was afterwards, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
This is a huge, big-time loss for us. We're one game behind Arizona if we win this game. This is the third time this has happened. We got to pick it up and learn from this. We're taking hits. It's tournament time, it's February, we need to turn it up, but we took two steps back so we got to regroup
Offense is what makes the Bruins successful, as they enter Thursday ninth in the nation in scoring (82.9 PPG) and fourth in assists (17.9 APG). Adams' scoring and Anderson's playmaking and facilitating prowess help keep the functionality flowing and the bundles of points coming.
So much for turning it up at home versus the Ducks.
The hope is that Adams and Anderson got caught up in the glamor as leaders of the most promising UCLA team in years, made some uncharacteristic mistakes and can learn from them. Based on the brief, one-game suspension, it seems the situation could have been worse than it was, which is just about the only immediate silver lining that can be derived from this development.
Alford will have to figure out a way to scheme around the absence of his two biggest stars, but that may be too tall of an order for any coach to overcome and still emerge victorious.
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