The good news is we play USC tomorrow night. While UCLA is struggling, UCLA fans can take some small solace in that USC may have the worst basketball team in its history. Jim Healy's tape of Charles Barkley from years ago, sums up Southern Cal basketball now.
So, how bad is it?
USC ranks 342 out of 344 teams in points per game. They have earned this ranking shooting the 335th worst in the nation from three (the same as UCLA's Saturday opponent St. John's) and a whopping 39% overall. In other words, they are third worst in the nation at scoring points, ninth worst shooting from three and still in the top 20 over-all worst at field goal percentage. It is any wonder, they have not broken 50 points their last three games?
The bad news does not stop for USC. Since UCLA beat them the first time, they have lost their starting center who was their leader in field goal percentage, blocked shots, and their second best rebounder. They literally do not have a big man off the bench and their starting PG, Maurice Jones, is averaging an insane 38 minutes per game.
This team is unbelievably bad. If not for one game against Utah they would have went 0 for the Pac-12. This is not a trap game, but rather a fire-the-coach-and-take-away-the-scholarships-from-the-players- right-now-if-you-lose kind of game.
There is not much more to say on U$C. This should be an easy game to pick up a game on one of the three teams UCLA needs to catch up to get to the magical first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament as Oregon will likely lose at Cal. Or help assure us a winning record for the post-season CBI tourney.
USC (as well as St. John's, who we play this Saturday) does present a unique opportunity. It is a time to play some other players' real minutes. In order for UCLA to have any chance to win the Pac-12 tournament, it does not seem smart to play Zeek, Jerime Anderson, and Tyler Lamb big minutes every night. Hopefully Norman Powell sees his career high in minutes against USC. If Stover is hurt, it would also be nice to see Brendan Lane set his season high for minutes. While I think Lane is the ninth best player on the team, UCLA will still need him this season if they are going to win the Pac-12 tournament and this is a time to rest banged up and hurting players like Anthony Stover and Travis Wear.
Of course it would be a good time to practice the zone as well, but oh never mind. But maybe CBH can work on a few things with the time left in the season. Stopping the Wears from shooting long two pointers, having Norman Powell work on his mid-range game, Tyler Lamb becoming more consistent, convincing Josh Smith that the Staples Center is located in Washington state, etc.
Go Bruins, beat SC!