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UCLA basketball: 'We're no Kentucky,' says Bruins' Norman Powell

December 04, 2012|By Baxter Holmes
  • UCLA's Norman Powell protects the ball from Georgetown's Jabril Trawick in the first half of their game on Nov. 19.
UCLA's Norman Powell protects the ball from Georgetown's Jabril… (Frank Franklin II / Associated…)

A common criticism thrown around by UCLA basketball fans is that if Kentucky can win with talented freshmen, as it did last season, then why can't the Bruins, who are loaded with freshmen stars this season?

"We're no Kentucky," UCLA guard Norman Powell said Monday. "We don't have Anthony Davis. We don't have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. We don't have that type of players. With Shabazz [Muhammad] and Kyle [Anderson], they're great players, but Shabazz isn't Anthony Davis. Nobody is Anthony Davis."

Indeed, UCLA's 2012-13 squad is not at all like Kentucky's 2011-12 national championship team, which had six of its players drafted by the NBA, including Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist, who were the first two picks.

But this season's Kentucky team isn't like last season's Kentucky team either.

The Wildcats boast several freshmen stars but they're still off to a disappointingly slow start to the season -- much like another team that is laden with freshmen stars: UCLA.

The similarities continue.

The Bruins started the season ranked No. 11, and, after three losses, now find themselves unranked.

The Wildcats began the season ranked No. 3, and, after three losses, also now find themselves unranked.

The fall from grace has been sharper for Kentucky than it has been for a rebuilding Bruins squad, though.

After a loss dropped Kentucky from No. 3 to No. 8 in the Associated Press' poll, the Wildcats, who lost to Notre Dame and Baylor last week, completely fell out of the AP's top-25 poll Monday.

Kentucky's fall from No. 8 to unkranked marked the biggest single-week drop since the poll was expanded to 25 teams in 1990. Kentucky had been ranked in the last 61 polls, 11 of those weeks at No. 1.

This also marked the first time since Coach John Calipari took over at Kentucky that his team has been unranked.

But the good news for UCLA is that it can't suffer an embarrasing loss in its next game because its next game doesn't count.

The Bruins play host to Cal State San Marcos (7-3) in an exhibition game Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Cal State San Marcos is an NAIA independent program led by second-year coach Jim Saia, who served as an assistant at UCLA from 1996 through 2003.

"We're going to go out there and play our hardest, like we're playing Kansas or Kentucky," Powell said.

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