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UCLA's Kyle Anderson helps create opportunities for Norman Powell

Teams often use big guards against Anderson, a 6-foot-9 point guard, and that leaves smaller guards on 6-4 Powell.

January 17, 2014|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA guard Norman Powell passes around Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski to teammate Tony Parker during the second half of a game last weekend at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA guard Norman Powell passes around Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

SALT LAKE CITY — There are advantages to having a 6-foot-9 point guard such as Kyle Anderson.

That was evident not so much in Anderson's play for UCLA on Thursday as it was in the performance of teammate guard Norman Powell.

Powell, a 6-4 junior, matched his season high with 19 points in prodding the No. 25 Bruins to a 69-56 victory over No. 21 Colorado. Powell's play had roots in Anderson's presence.

"What is happening is teams are trying to put big guards on Kyle," said Coach Steve Alford, whose team plays Utah on Saturday afternoon. "When they do that, it means point guards have to guard Norman. He is really difficult to defend on the post and/or when you say, 'drive the ball.'"

Powell made eight of 13 shots against the Buffaloes.

"I don't think people forget about him at all," Anderson said. "He knocked down a lot of big shots and that made him stand out a little more."

Powell also helped get Colorado guard Askia Booker in foul trouble. Booker spent much of the evening guarding Powell and left after picking up his third foul and sat out more than two minutes in the second half.

Booker had a team-high 21 points and his scoring was missed. UCLA extended its lead from 49-44 to 58-46 while he was out.

Arizona State ran into a similar problem matching up point guard Jahii Carson on Powell on Sunday. Carson missed more than eight minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul.

"They either got to put the point guard on Norman or Jordan [Adams]," Alford said. "Usually it's Norman. We were able to get Booker in foul trouble and that was a big deal. We were able to get Carson in foul trouble last game. It makes a big difference."

Salt Lake City tales

It's back to Salt Lake City for Alford, who got a Harvard education the last time he was in Utah.

Alford's third-seeded New Mexico team was upset by Harvard in the first round of the NCAA tournament last spring. Nine days later, he walked away from an agreed-on contract extension to take the UCLA job.

Alford has had success in the city as well in an intense rivalry with Utah when the Utes were in the Mountain West Conference. New Mexico had a 2-2 record against the Utes in Salt Lake City under Alford. There were two overtime games — both Lobos wins — and another that was a one-point Utah victory.

"We had wild games with them," Alford said. "It was always a war. It's probably not going to be any different."

Still, Alford's trials and triumphs in Salt Lake City may pale in comparison to what UCLA players experienced last season. A blizzard hit before the game and only creative bus driving got the Bruins to the arena.

"The snow almost pushed us back down the hill," Adams said. "It was pretty scary."

Adams remembered more than the weather.

"Their fans sit near our bench," he said. "If you're not focused, it can mess you up a little."

The Bruins were focused, holding on to beat the Utes, 57-53.

Cold hands

UCLA entered Pac-12 play second in the nation in field-goal percentage, shooting 52% from the field. But the Bruins have been below 50% the last three games, including a 39% shooting performance in the Colorado victory.

"We had a lot of guys that struggled shooting the ball, but I thought we showed some toughness by doing some other things," Alford said after Thursday's game.

Adams was among those doing other things. He had 13 rebounds, six offensive. On one possession, he had two offensive rebounds, the second a tipin for a 60-51 lead with 2:30 left.

He scored seven of his 14 points and had six rebounds in the last seven minutes.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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