This is a strange game tonight where UCLA has a chance to avenge their worst loss of the season to the Oregon State Beavers earlier this season. Maybe the symbol of the game is the twins who will be playing their last game at Pauley tonight at Senior Night:
Senior twin brothers David and Travis Wear have been mainstays in UCLA's rotation each of the last three seasons after having transferred to UCLA in the summer of 2010 from North Carolina. David has averaged 8.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in 94 career games at UCLA. Travis has posted averages of 10.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 87 career games for the Bruins.
I think now is the time to appreciate what they have done in a Bruin uniform and not focus on what they did not do (e.g. rebound appropriate to their heights and position). First on David. David has had some rough games like last year against ASU but he has also had some big games where he has shot lights out. In the game where Ben Howland job might have been on the line for an in-season firing in December 2012 David Wear went 7-7 and helped UCLA win over then #7 Missouri 97-94 in overtime.
This year in the first game of the season at UC Berkeley, UCB Coach Mike Montgomery totally disrespected David and left him alone. David scored a career high 18 points, including 16 in the first half, and gave UCLA arguably its best first half of the season. The second game against UCB, Monty played David honest which helped Jordan Adams go off. David also came up big at Madison Square Garden in the Duke game, where, along with Kyle Anderson, kept us in the game shooting 6-7 and 4-4 from three. Of course, he also hit the dramatic game tying shot against Oregon that forced overtime on a long pass from his brother.
Travis Wear has had arguably had some bad luck in his time at UCLA. He cut his foot walking on a beach, had a tough time coming back from an appendectomy this season, was the indirect cause of some of ReevesNelson's fits, Josh Smith's benching, and never seems to get any respect. While Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, and even Norman Powell are bigger stars this year, Travis Wear play has been a key the past few years.
Last season you could argue that it was Travis Wear that keyed UCLA's win of the PAC 12 title. Like his brother in the Missouri game, Travis saved Howland's job with a then career high of 22 points in that game. But it was during the first PAC 12 road trip last year against Utah and Colorado that Travis really shined and carried UCLA to a road sweep, something they have not been able to do this year. Travis was the only Bruin to score in both those games during key periods in the second half. When Travis was hurt or hurting last year, UCLA generally lost. He was the x-factor.
This season Travis got off to a very rough start and was slow to recover from an appendectomy. However, he has been playing better of late and has been the most aggressive big on defense. He is shooting 57% in PAC 12 play. He hit the game winner at Oregon. (Ironic that his brother hit the game tying shot the next time we played Oregon).He has also passing like never before. His assist average for this season is higher than his combined assist average for his career.
I am not sure the coaches always used the Wears correctly but that is not their fault. Thanks Travis and David for your time at UCLA.
In other news, Steve Alford is being coy on whether Kyle Anderson (also playing his last game at Pauley as his Dad says he is going pro after this year) and Jordan Adams are going to start after their suspensions:
The Bruins' two top players served one-game suspensions during an 87-83 double-overtime loss to Oregon on Thursday for a violation of team rules. Head coach Steve Alford did not guarantee the two players their starting spots, but said they would be back as long as Saturday's practice went well.
As far as Oregon State, I am not sure why Steve Alford is so scared of Roberto Nelson. In the first game UCLA shut down Roberto Nelson (2-8 from the field) but was killed by Eric Moreland's 14 rebounds and 5 assists. Also freshman guard Cooke had a career high 20 points.
They handled the Bruins in Corvallis, winning, 71-67. Eric Moreland and Angus Brandt, Oregon State's two 6-foot-10 players, were a problem for the Bruins in that game. But Alford is more concerned about guard Roberto Nelson, who is averaging 20.6 points to lead the Pac-12. "We have a lot of respect for those post guys, but Nelson is a guy you have to keep an eye on," Alford said. "He can take over games all by himself."
Here is hoping that the Wears have a nice Senior Day and that Steve Alford lets the Bruins avenge their only loss to team out of the RPI 100 tonight.