By Nick Baker on March 26, 2014
The UCLA Bruins have had an up and down year, but a late-season surge in the PAC-12 tournament has them in the position to upset the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16. The Bruins have one of the most potent offenses remaining in the tournament, and although the Gators are known for their defense, this will be a tough fought battle that either team could emerge from victorious from.
UCLA averages just over 81 points per game, and shooting the ball at a 49 percent clip as a team makes them the most dominant offense remaining in the tourney. Jordan Adams is the guard who leads the way with a 17 points per game average, but fellow sophomore Kyle Anderson is just as important despite his recent scoring woes.
I’ve touched on the knockdown shooting ability of the Bruins, but since the PAC-12 tournament began the Bruins have looked like a different team on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve held their last five opponents to an average of just 62 points per game. This includes the Oregon Ducks, who average 81 points per game but were able to score just 63 in a 19-point loss to the Bruins.
This is Steve Alford’s first year as head coach of the UCLA Bruins, but he has 22 seasons of experience to draw on and spent the last six years as head coach of the New Mexico Lobos. He was able to bring talented recruits to New Mexico and held a 2-3 tournament record with the Lobos, meaning he has plenty of tournament experience and is a coach clearly on the rise.
Much attention each college basketball season is placed on the stud freshmen around the country, but one youngster who hasn’t been talked about is UCLA guard Zach LaVine. Lavine is a lanky 6-foot-5 and averaged nearly 10 points per game off the bench this season for the Bruins. He hasn’t been getting much playing time since the tournament started, but he could play a key role against the Gators if he gets hot early.
The Bruins score a lot of points, but they aren’t concerned with who does the majority of that scoring. They’re fifth in the nation in assists per game, and do-it-all point guard Kyle Anderson leads the way with an average of 6.5 per game. The two leading scorers for the Bruins – Anderson and Jordan Adams – are also their assist leaders, which just goes to show how unselfish this group really is.
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