The Sports Report: The most popular player at UCLA seldom plays

The Sports Report: The most popular player at UCLA seldom plays

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Bill Plaschke on the UCLA men’s basketball team: The chant first appeared at Pauley Pavilion two weeks ago, in UCLA’s season opener against Cal State Bakersfield, sweeping down from the student section like a prayer.

“We want Rus-sell! We want Rus-sell!”

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The Bruin basketball team is filled with some of the sport’s most colorful players, prominent personalities who have captured the city with breathtaking shots.

The chant is for a kid who has made one basket in four years.

“We want Rus-sell! We want Rus-sell.”

The celebrated Bruins basketball team is led by celebrity athletes participating with full scholarships and marketing deals and a real chance at big NBA money.

The chant is for the kid who is paying to play.

“We want Rus-sell! We want Rus-sell.”

And thus, in this year’s Bruins basketball bible, the last shall be loudest.

Arguably the most beloved player on one of America’s most popular teams sits at the end of the bench, plays only at the end of the games, and marvels that anybody even knows his name, much less chants it at the end of blowouts.

“I was like, ‘Are they really cheering for me?” recalled senior walk-on Russell Stong of the first time he heard the rallying cry. “I was in shock. Nobody warned me. I was taken aback. It’s the most amazing thing.”

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USC MEN’S BASKETBALL

Boogie Ellis scored 17 points on eight-of-14 shooting, Joshua Morgan added 13 and No. 24 USC beat St. Joseph’s 70-55 on Thursday night at the Wooden Legacy.

Chevez Goodwin had 10 points and eight rebounds for USC (5-0), which will face San Diego State on tonight.

Ellis scored seven points in a 19-4 run that made it 23-9 midway through the first half and the Trojans led the rest of the way.

Ejike Obinna was 9 of 13 from the field and finished with a career-high 18 points and 10 rebounds for St. Joseph’s (2-3). Taylor Funk added 12 points and eight rebounds.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: With tears welling in his eyes, Aaron Donald stood on the Lambeau Field sideline lamenting an opportunity that got away.

That is the enduring image from the Rams’ NFC divisional-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers last season.

“I just care,” Donald said this week when asked about his emotions that day. “That is what it comes down to, just caring.”

Donald played that game with a rib injury that precluded the three-time NFL defensive player of the year from disrupting in a way that has bedeviled opposing offensive coordinators for seven-plus seasons.

Donald, 30, is back to full strength and eager to return to Lambeau Field on Sunday when the Rams (7-3) will play the Packers (8-3) in a key conference matchup.

Did last season’s crushing 32-18 defeat provide motivation to play the Packers again?

“A lot of things motivate me,” Donald said, “but you could say that, yes.”

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: They still rank last in the NFL, the two teams closest to them — Detroit and Houston — a combined 2-18-1.

Yet to be fair, any discussion of the Chargers’ season-long rushing defense must include what has recently happened.

The Chargers have limited their last four opponents to an average of 3.7 yards per carry, which would rank No. 2 over the course of the season.

They have given up 476 yards on the ground during that stretch, but it has taken the opposition 129 attempts to get there.

“We just got tired of all the noise, people saying that they can run all over us,” edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu said. “As a man, that just hurts your pride. At some point, you have to muscle up and say, ‘We’re going to just start punching dudes in the mouth.’”

Since their week off, the Chargers are the ones who have been more frequently landing the blows. In their last two games, they held Minnesota and Pittsburgh to 158 yards in 51 carries, an average of 3.1.

————

Josh Allen throws for four touchdowns as Bills beat hobbled Saints

Raiders beat Cowboys in overtime on field goal after penalty

Bears defeat Lions with game-ending field goal

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1917 — The NHL is formed with five charter members: Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Maroons, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs. Frank Calder is elected president.

1949 — Boston College beats Holy Cross 76-0, with Al Cannava rushing for 229 yards.

1956 — In the Melbourne Olympics, Australia, Vyacheslav Ivanov of the Soviet Union wins the single sculls. After receiving the gold medal, he jumps up and down and accidentally drops it through the slats in the float and it sinks to the bottom of the lake.

1961 — Jerry Norton of St. Louis becomes the only NFL player to have four interceptions in a game twice. He picks off four, two for touchdowns, in the Cardinals’ 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1988 — For the first time in their long rivalry, Notre Dame and USC enter the game undefeated and ranked Nos. 1-2. The top-ranked Fighting Irish win 27-10.

1989 — Willie “Flipper” Anderson of the Rams sets an NFL game record with 336 yards receiving. Anderson has 15 catches, one for a touchdown, in the Rams’ 20-17 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints.

1994 — The Cleveland Cavaliers sets an NBA record by attempting just two free throws during a 101-87 home victory over Golden State. John Williams and Tony Campbell go 1-for-1 from the line.

1997 — Charles Jones scores a school-record 53 points and Long Island University beats Division III Medgar Evers 179-62, breaking the NCAA record for margin of victory. The 117-point difference eclipses the mark of 97 set by Southern in a 154-57 victory over Patten in 1993.

1999 — Detroit’s Steve Yzerman scores his 600th goal in the Red Wings’ 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena. He’s the 11th player in NHL history to reach 600 goals.

2005 — Defenseman Marek Malik ends the NHL’s longest shootout in the 15th round, fooling goalie Olie Kolzig with a trick shot to give the New York a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Malik wins it by taking a shot with his stick between his skates.

2005 — Florida International ties an NCAA record by returning four interceptions for touchdowns in a 52-6 rout of rival Florida Atlantic.

2010 — UConn defeats Howard 86-25 to win its 82nd straight game, setting an NCAA women’s basketball record for consecutive victories.

2010 — Cam Newton passes for three touchdowns and runs for another, rallying No. 2 Auburn from a 24-point for a 28-27 victory over No. 9 Alabama that kept the Tigers on course for a shot at the national championship.

2011 — Illinois finishes the season with its sixth straight loss, 27-7 at Minnesota. The Illini become the first FBS team to open the regular-season with six straight wins and close it with six losses in a row.

2013 — Jordan Lynch breaks his single-game rushing record for quarterbacks with 321 yards, and No. 18 Northern Illinois completes its first unbeaten regular season in 50 years with a 33-14 victory over Western Michigan.

2016 — Nate Peterman throws for 251 yards and four TDs and runs for another score to lead Pittsburgh past Syracuse 76-61 — the most combined points for a regulation FBS game.

2016 — Will Worth accounts for four touchdowns while becoming the first Navy quarterback with more than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing in three consecutive games when the Midshipmen rout SMU 75-31. The Midshipmen, who beat East Carolina 66-31 the previous week, have consecutive 60-point games for the first time since 1917.

2017 — Julio Jones finishes with 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta’s 34-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s Jones’ third career game with at least 250 yards receiving; no other player has more than one.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Flipper Anderson sets a record with 336 receiving yards. Watch and listen here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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