Shabazz Muhammad is starting to look like the player we thought we had on one side of the ball. He won the PAC 12 and ESPN player of the week. From the PAC 12 release:
The Las Vegas, Nev., native scored a season-high-tying 27 points in the 97-94 overtime win over then-No. 7 Missouri. Muhammad shot 52.6 percent, making 10 of 19 shots, including three of six three-pointers. He made two three-pointers in overtime that put the Bruins ahead for the win.
The freshman has scored in double figures in all 10 games played, and has recorded 20 or more points in five games. This was the second time in as many games that the Bruin had tallied 27 points. The victory for UCLA was the first win over a top-10 ranked non-conference team since Nov. 20, 2007.
This is Muhammad's first career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor. It is the 55th all-time selection for UCLA.
ESPN has a video with Andy Katz discussing ESPN naming National Player of the Week for his effort in UCLA "desperately needed signature win."
Great news for Shabazz and congratulations!
However, as is the theme for this year all is not great. Katz interestingly says UCLA looks good enough to compete for second place with Oregon. Think about that. Arizona is considered a lock for the PAC 12 title and we are considered good enough to compete for second?!? Wow.
This is, of course, reasonable. While we look good enough on offense to win a number of games serious questions abound on our defense. SHabazz is a perfect example of the new look Bruins. He had a GREAT week, on offense. But at one point he got burned for 11 points in a row in the Missouri game by someone named Keion Bell. At the end of the game Bell had a wide open layup he missed while to his credit Shabazz had the legs to make two pressure threes in overtime.
And that sums up your 2012-13 Bruins, we are going to out score you to win. Defense optional.
This approach is likely to lead to a second or third place in the PAC 12. For Keion Bell is no Allen Crabbe, the PAC 12 leading scorer, who we face Thursday night. Shabazz may be able to out score him but there is serious doubts whether UCLA can stop Crabbe.
And it bears repeating, when UCLA has potentially its best team in five years, ESPN should be reporting about UCLA in the NCAA title hunt, not that we could make a run at second place in the PAC 12.