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Bruin Bites-Colorado at UCLA Basketball Edition

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A look behind a few numbers

Norman Powell did this early this year against Colorado.  Hopefully he will get enough minutes tonight to do it often as well.
Norman Powell did this early this year against Colorado. Hopefully he will get enough minutes tonight to do it often as well.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s Bruins bites basketball edition is going to focus on UCLA.  For all those trying to say that Colorado has overcome the loss of Dinwiddie or that they have won three in a row, keep in mind that:

  • The three wins have come at home. They have not won on the road without Dinwiddie.
  • They struggled in two of the three wins over lowly WSU and took until overtime against Utah, a poor road team.
  • They are 3-5 for the season outside of home for the season.
  • Their only PAC 12 road win was against WSU

There is a reason why UCLA is 10.5 point favorite in this game.

So instead of reading Chris "I barely following college basketball" Foster hype the game, take these two tidbits from his story (which I have not individual verified for truth so take with a grain of salt):

UCLA has won 13 of 14 games when guard Norman Powell scores in double figures.

Travis Wear has made all 17 of his free throws this season. David Wear has made his last 19.

Were Bryce Alford’s reduced minutes against Just SC because Powell was playing so well or because Bryce had a bum ankle?  It will be interesting to watch but Powell on the court is a key to UCLA.  Powell is a shooting guard who doesn’t shoot outside well but does cover the point guard and attack the rim like few others.

Powell suits a team whose players don’t fit the normal definitions of positions on a basketball team.  As Colorado’s coach Tad Boyle says:

"They are a unique team," he said this week. "Unlike any team in our conference, in my opinion."

Of course that uniqueness starts with Kyle Anderson.  From the official game notes:

No player in the country has averaged as close to a triple-double as has Kyle Anderson (15.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.7 apg). Through games played Feb. 9, Anderson was the nation’s only player averaging at least 10.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 6.0 apg. In addition, Anderson is the only player to rank in the top five (in his conference, BCS conferences only) in rebounds, assists and steals and be among the top 15 scorers (includes AAC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC)

Not all is good on the unique front.  Since we started by disagreeing with the notion that Colorado has recovered from the devastating loss of Spencer Dinwiddie, let’s talk a little about UCLA’s numbers.  UCLA is ranked number 18 by KenPom.  Most surprising is UCLA is ranked a shocking #24 in adjusted defense.  When UCLA can turn the other team over, its defense works.  If they don’t, a number that is a bit shocking (or maybe not) is UCLA is ranked 142 in opponents effective field goal percentage.

What does all this mean?  Short term, UCLA should beat Colorado tonight without too much trouble.  Anything else is a fail.  Long term, UCLA is a good but unique team that a good coach could do a lot with.  Will UCLA continue to underachieve on the road or neutral court games as it has done too many times this year so far?  We won’t find out tonight or for a while but we do know that is on Steve Alford.

Go Bruins!