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UCLA's Drew gets it together for final NCAA run

  • Article by: Amelia Rayno
  • Star Tribune
  • March 23, 2013 - 12:57 AM

 

– For Larry Drew II, it was a moment that couldn’t be faked.

Moments after the UCLA point guard had discovered what his team thought was something of a minor injury to all-around star Jordan Adams was actually a season-ending broken foot, the cameras were there, in the Bruins locker room.

With the news so fresh, and the ramifications so big, Drew couldn’t hold it in. Tears streamed down the senior’s face as he spoke to reporters, distraught.

A week passed between that game in the Pacific-12 tournament in Las Vegas, and UCLA’s 83-63 NCAA tournament loss to the Gophers on Friday, and a lot happened.

Adjustments had to be made, attitudes changed. It was a new team starting a new season.

“I knew I had to move on,” Drew said. “We couldn’t really be stuck on that forever. ... So I shook it off and I got focused.”

Drew won a national championship with North Carolina in 2009 but left the Tar Heels after 2½ seasons to join the Bruins. He didn’t have a memorable final college game, with four points, three assists and five turnovers in 39 minutes while shooting 1-for-6 from the floor..

Muhammad key

As much as Tubby Smith has been on the hot seat this year, UCLA coach Ben Howland’s seat seems infinitely hotter, and has gotten more publicity. Adding to the Bruins’ distractions, the Los Angeles Times came out with a story Friday on Shabazz Muhammad — and the discovery that the freshman star, believed to be 19, is actually a full year older.

Without Adams, Muhammad went in as the Bruins’ biggest offensive threat. He scored 20 points — 15 coming after halftime — but shot 6-for-18 from the floor.

“Shabazz Muhammad. That’s the key to their team,” the Gophers’ Rodney Williams said.

Etc.

• Gophers players were happy to get away from the grind-it-out, half-court setting that is seen so much in Big Ten play. “It is a little bit refreshing,” Austin Hollins said. “They’re no Wisconsin or anything.”

• The Gophers’ victory completed a mostly successful Thursday and Friday for the Big Ten, which saw its teams go 6-1. Wisconsin was the lone loser, falling to Mississippi earlier Friday. The average margin of victory for the Gophers, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois was 18.3 points.

• Mbakwe and Williams went into Friday as the only Gophers with any experience in an NCAA tournament game. But the pair had combined for less than two minutes of game action. Mbakwe played a minute in 2008 while at Marquette his freshman season, and Williams had an even more abbreviated appearance in the Gophers’ 2010 first-round loss to Xavier his freshman year.

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