UCLA's Norman Powell says he will focus on limiting 'stupid fouls'

UCLA's Norman Powell says he will focus on limiting 'stupid fouls'
UCLA guard Norman Powell, left, speaks with Coach Steve Alford during a win over Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 3. The two will lead the Bruins into their Pac-12 Conference opener on Friday against Colorado. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Norman Powell is the UCLA basketball team's best offensive player, but he doesn't do the Bruins much good on the bench.

In the Bruins' two closest games this season — a loss against Oklahoma and a win against San Diego — Powell got into foul trouble. He picked up four fouls in both games and had to sit for longer than normal periods.


Powell is tied for the team lead in scoring average at 17.7 points. And he is by far the best defender in the UCLA backcourt, so he often guards the opposing team's best player.

Has that led to more fouls?

Powell says no.

"It's really me just picking up stupid fouls," Powell said.

Against UC Riverside on Wednesday night — UCLA's last game before the Bruins face No. 9 Gonzaga on Saturday and top-ranked Kentucky on Dec. 20 — Powell said he would focus on limiting those mistakes.

Cleaning the boards

Rebounding is so important to Kevon Looney that "if you ask him how much he's scoring, he probably doesn't know," Coach Steve Alford said.

The flip side: "If you ask him how many times we've been outrebounded his year, he's going to answer you right away."

That one is easy: just once.

On a young team still searching for an identity, rebounding has become a point of pride.

The Bruins' 43.4 rebounds per game is 11th in the nation. Looney ranks fifth among individuals, averaging 11.2 rebounds per game. The four players ahead of him are all upperclassmen.

How may he assist?

Bryce Alford leads UCLA in shots, which is not ideal for a point guard. But he has still found a way to share the ball.

Alford ranks eighth nationally with an average of 7.0 assists per game. He is the only underclassmen in the nation with more than 60 assists and fewer than 25 turnovers — he has 63 and 23.



Against Riverside, UCLA will be going for a sweep of California schools in nonconference games. The Bruins have never lost to UC Riverside and are 34-3 all-time against University of California teams, excluding the Cal Bears. UCLA is 19-2 all-time against Cal State teams.



When: 8 p.m.

Where: Pauley Pavilion.

On the air: TV: Pac-12 Network; Radio: 570.

Records: UCLA 7-2, UC Riverside 5-3.

Update: The Bruins got a scare from San Diego on Sunday when they trailed at half at home for the first time this season. Their seven-point win was their first game decided by fewer than 10 points. Riverside is shooting a better-than-respectable 48% this season. After the Highlanders, UCLA has games against No. 9 Gonzaga, at Pauley Pavilion, and No. 1 Kentucky, at the United Center in Chicago.