Bruins forward Travis Wear (24) pulls down a rebound against Stanford forward… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Travis Wear has had an unusual final season at UCLA.
It started last spring, when Coach Ben Howland was fired. It continued in the fall, when he underwent an appendectomy.
But things are going better for Wear in recent weeks. He had 13 points, making six of eight shots, Thursday in a win over California. Heading into Saturday's game at Stanford, he has made 26 of 40 shots in UCLA's last six games.
"The beginning of the season was a little tough, coming off the surgery," Wear said. "I'm getting into a groove. It took a little while. I think I'm there now."
Wear and his twin brother, David, are a reason for the Bruins' surge the last two weeks, according to UCLA Coach Steve Alford.
"They are both doing so much," said Alford, who credited the Wears with effective rebounding and defense before commenting on their production on offense. "Against Cal, they had four assists and no turnovers. They are making a ton of shots. They are making their foul shots."
They are also creating matchup problems for opponents because they are shooting well from behind the three-point arc. After attempting only seven three-pointers in the first 21 games, Travis Wear has made seven of 13 in the last six games. David Wear is seven of 15 from three-point range during the same span.
If there is one thing a shooter has to accept, it's that sometimes he is going to miss. Occasionally, he's going to miss often.
UCLA's Zach LaVine has had more shots bounce harmlessly off the rim than he would care to count in the last four weeks. He had made only six of 37 shots in six games before Thursday's win at Cal.
LaVine made two of four shots against the Bears, all from behind the three-point arc.
"I thought he was very active cutting," Alford said. "He didn't stay on the perimeter, he engaged the defense. Any time you have a player who cares and works hard, good things happen."
Whether good times are back remain to be seen. It was one game.
But Alford, a shooting prodigy as a youth in Indiana, noted: "Every shooter has gone through a period when they're not shooting well. You get back in the gym and get back to good habits."
Alford's shooting slump? "I had a bad two- or three-game stretch when I was at Indiana," he said.