Day 1 of the Pac-12 Tournament is out of the way, and the identity of UCLA's noontime opponent known. Following an 89-88 overtime victory over Stanford, Arizona State has advanced to play the Bruins. Jahii Carson backed up his selection as the Pac-12's co-freshman of the year with a 34 point outburst to open the tournament.
Herb Sendek bench on Wednesday was short enough to shock even Ben Howland - playing 7 players, but with his 2 bench players playing a combined 13 minutes - Evan Gordon was the slacker of ASU's starting 5, playing 38 minutes, with the remaining starters logging 43-44 minutes each. Wednesday - like every game in this tournament - was a must win for ASU's postseason ambitions and the heavy usage of his starters was a necessity for Sendek, but with less than a 24-hour turnaround, that usage will further strengthen UCLA's position on the MGM Grand court this afternoon.
In addition to being a "Business Trip", Chris Foster wrote about how the conference tourney is also a homecoming for Shabazz Muhammad.
This is where the memories are: "I'm going to take everyone to my favorite restaurant," Muhammad said. "It has the best chicken fingers. I have been hyping it up to the guys."
If Shabazz is referring to the Raising Caines located a couple miles south of The Strip, we might just be brothers. If not... quit holding out on us, Bazz! Jack Wang also wrote about the homecoming angle to the Bruins' trip to Vegas, along with the distractions expected in that town. By the time the Bruins reached the MGM Grand, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced Shabazz as one of the 5 members of their Freshman All-America team.
In Football news, UCLA recently held its Pro Day for the graduating seniors preparing for the NFL Draft. This was a closed session, with only UCLA and NFL team officials permitted to watch, meaning that media like CBSSports.com had to rely on sources to feed them info on what happened inside Spauding Field.
Jones, according to the source, demonstrated the light feet and good upper body explosiveness during bag drills he'd used in racking up 17 1/2 tackles for loss as a senior.
Frankin's athleticism continues to impress. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder who clocked in at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, showed off his burst by accelerating through the "holes" and exploding in his lateral cuts. He also caught the ball well during this portion of the drills.
Performances like this have kept Datone in the conversation as a late-first round draft selection, while JetSki has moved up the draft board since the Combine. According to this piece, he is now a possible second-round pick and is considered by many to be the second-best running back prospect behind Alabama's Kenny Lacy. Joseph Fauria also participated, performing well in drills but lacking explosive acceleration.
UCLA's opening Pac-12 tournament game tips off just after 12pm Pacific time against Arizona State, and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. We will have our usual gamethread up for the game.