Norman Powell scored 24 points and had 7 rebounds and 2 assists and Tony Parker went 20-5-1 as the Bruins trounced the Washington Huskies 88-66. It wasn't that close. The biggest lead was 31, and again, it wasn't that close. Already without the ultimate rim protector, 7'1" Robert Shaw, Washington played without their other big, Shawn Kemp Jr., and now have lost eight of their last nine games.
For those of us who DVR'd the game, ESPN screwed us again. By the time they joined the action at Pauley at 11:44, the game was over. The score was already 24-12.
The best news of the night is that Tony Parker is apparently not checked out, and came out on fire. The Bruins went to him down low on the first four possessions, and he hit his first four shots.
Norman Powell was at his super-aggressive best. A (minor) surprise this season is that there are only two players in the PAC-12 who can cover Norman when he's determined: Tyrone Wallace and Gary Payton II. We may see them yet again in the P12T, but it's good to know that he can win his match-ups with Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Stanford.
The other member of our Big Three, Kevon Looney, was quiet. He ultimately finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, and two blocks, but he had 0 points and 3 rebounds in the first half along with 3 turnovers (4 for the entire game). The eye test was worse: he was sluggish getting back on defense and languid in the zone.
Should we be worried about Looney now? On the one hand, UCLA took care of business convincingly, but on the other hand, there are bigger fish to fry starting Wednesday, March 11 (or Thursday if they get the bye) in the PAC-12 Tournament. Paraphrasing Bill Walton, if the BIG Three are on, the Bruins can be competitive with anyone in the PAC-12.
Speaking of Bill, the highlights of this night were really Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Joe Lunardi. He's my recap:
1) Bill Walton: UCLA should be able to find some combination of big men that could beat Arizona and Utah. If you haven't realized by now, Bill loves Thomas Welsh.
2) Bill Walton: UCLA has the second best talent in the conference behind Arizona.
3) Bill Walton: Steve Alford lets the guards shoot all the time because that's the way he played at Indiana.
4) Joe Lunardi: Before the game, UCLA was in the First Four Out, but he was likely to put them back at Number 64 with this win (Davidson had won, and Illinois lost).
5) Joe Lunardi: Winning two games in the P12T will cement an NCAA bid. One win will probably get them in (a good win which I take to mean a quarterfinal game).
6) Joe Lunardi: Likes Oregon even with a road loss (they beat Cal last night).
7) Joe Lunardi: Sees the PAC-12 getting four bids.
8) Bill Walton to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: when you played, what happened if the guards didn't pass? Kareem: Wooden took them out.
9) Bill Walton to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: how many times did you set a pick for a little guy 30 feet out? Kareem: I can count them on two fingers.
10) Bill Walton to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: how many times did you take a charge? Kareem: once in an All-Star game against Charles Barkley
11) Dave Pasch to Kareem: what do you think of the job that Steve Alford has done over the past two seasons? Kareem: If he can teach players to improve and play consistently, the program will improve.
So it's pretty clear that UCLA's two greatest (basketball) Bruins disapprove of the program. They're probably both gun shy after the Howland hullaballoo, but if the product on the floor and the number of fans in the seats don't improve dramatically next season, Bill and Kareem may become more direct about the program again.
The core point is right. I'll put it in my own way: In a guard's league where you have, at worst, two of the top four big men plus Norman Powell, play to your strengths-- inside-out plus dribble-drive from Norman. You should be able to beat anyone in this crappy league.