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UCLA Has Another Chance to Get Into the Top 25

A win over Oregon State would be another step in the right direction

Travis Wear is rounding into last season form with more passing, after an awful start.
Travis Wear is rounding into last season form with more passing, after an awful start.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State is 3-1 at home in PAC 12 play.  Like Utah they are much better home team than road team.  More importantly for UCLA just as in the Utah game a loss here helps erased the good feelings of the win over a formerly ranked team in Oregon.  UCLA needs to win this game.

A couple quick player notes.

The Center position for UCLA is now looking good.  Yes Tony Parker has been up and down.  At times he looks dominate; at times he is a fouling machine.  He is shooting 60% from the field in the PAC 12.

Don't forget when he was awful against UC Berkeley, David Wear stepped up.  David is also playing better defense.

What people might not have noticed is Travis Wear has seemingly overcome his early season slump.  Travis is shooting  54% in the PAC 12 after a horrendous start.  While the number is not spectacular Travis is also passing much more, averaging over an assist a game and 1.5 assists a game in the PAC 12.  To put this in perspective Travis already has more assists this season than any other of his college career.

Norman Powell has that in common with Travis as well.  He has more assists this season than any other season of his career.  Oh, as of now he has less minutes than in those seasons.  Norman is a jump shot away from being a pro prospect but right now is an elite college player whose defense has really keyed UCLA.

Hopefully Jordan Adams broke out of his slump Thursday but in any case he has been shooting better from three in PAC 12 play, 41%.  Actually Jordan is one of four players shooting over 40% from three in the PAC 12, Zach LaVine 48%, Kyle Anderson 43%, and David Wear 42%.

There have been comments about freshman struggling on the road in the PAC 12.  Bryce's road struggles have been discussed in detail but what has been overlooked is he has not hit a three in five games, road or home.  It also seems like he is passing up some threes now.  Bryce can be a good set three shooter and needs to focus on that as it is arguably the best way he can help this team.

Zach is 9-27 (4-13 from three) in three PAC 12 road games.  The Oregon game was arguably his worse but the Utah game he was actually pretty good considering the frantic nature of the comeback.  Against Utah Zach had 6 rebounds and three steals to go with 5-12 shooting.  Really if you look at Zach's PAC 12 he has been a bit up and down, like a freshman.  An argument can be made that Zach not returning would be a mistake as he still needs to mature and become consistent.

As always I have to close by saying this is Kyle's team.  He was the one yelling and cheering when they went off at half time in the Oregon game.  He was telling them they had the game despite the ugly first half.   He is the leader of this team and it's heart and soul.  Kyle is like a coach on the floor.

I have talked too much about Kyle's stats so let me just use one here: Kyle has more defense rebounds in the PAC 12 than Tony, David and Travis combined.  (Which is why I say good not great play from the Center spot.)  He is the PAC 12 MVP.  Arizona could lose one of its guys and still be really good, UCLA without Kyle would be a nightmare.

Which brings up a good point:  A win tomorrow at Oregon State will really solidify UCLA as the only competition to Arizona in the PAC 12 and almost certainly let UCLA slip into the top 25.  A loss will make the Oregon weekend like the Colorado-Utah weekend, another missed opportunity.

Go Bruins.