Stop me if you've heard this before, especially this season: talented recruiting class, failing to live up to expectations. Kentucky is learning this the hard way. UCLA seemed to be destined for the same track, right up until a couple of weeks ago. And now, the UCLA Bruins are headed back into the Top 25 and this is just a sign of things to come for this potential Sweet 16 squad.
Last week, UCLA's 10-game winning streak was halted by the Oregon Ducks, a team that we have written a lot about as a top contender in the Pac-12, so it's not shame, but the Ducks exposed the Bruins as a poor perimeter shooting team, a mediocre team at getting into the paint and getting to the foul line and a team that should be much better rebounding the ball.
The nation's top recruiting class is just rounding into form at the midseason mark, combined with improved play from the veterans, UCLA is returning back into the national picture. In conference play, Travis Wear, a power forward with inside and outside scoring ability, is the team's leading scorer at 15.8 points, but Shabazz Muhammed (15.0) and Kyle Anderson (12.3) are not far behind in points per game, while also leading the team from 2 backcourt spots as the Bruins' top two rebounders (Anderson- 10.3, Muhammed-5.8). But what makes UCLA so difficult to gameplan against is their variety of options that can step up on any given night- Muhammed can drop 30, Anderson can post a triple-double, point guard Larry Drew can dish out a dozen assists while the Wear brothers collect double-digit rebounds.