The 14-6 Arizona Wildcats travel to Westwood to play the 10-9 UCLA Bruins. Arizona is 5-2 in conference and is coming off a road loss to USC while UCLA is 3-3 in league play and has lost 3 in a row.
Offense: The Bruins are 1st in the Pac-12 so far this year averaging 80.5 points per game. Kris Wilkes leads the way with 17 points per game and 5 rebounds. Jaylen Hands–who had a couple of highlight dunks against ASU last Thursday–is averaging 12 points and 6 assists. Prince Ali–the best 3-point shooter in the starting line-up at 36%–averages 10 points while the 7’1″ freshman Moses Brown adds 11 points and 8.5 rebounds. Jalen Hill was reinserted into the starting lineup against ASU after coming off the bench for the previous 12 games. Hill doesn’t particularly stand out on the stat sheet but the 6’10” freshman has a great deal of ability and potential. He, Brown, the 6’10” Cody Riley, and 6’9″ Chris Smith are most likely going to cause problems for Arizona–even more so if Chase Jeter sits out again due to injury.
Arizona is coming off one its worst offensive performances of the season and scored only 57 points against USC’s zone defense. It was by far their worst shooting performance at 28% including a dismal 20% (5 of 25) from 3-point range. The Cats had entered that game shooting 40% from beyond the arc in conference play and sorely missed Jr. Center Chase Jeter as USC’s Nick Rakocevic had 27 points and 12 rebounds against them.
Defense: The Bruins are 10th in league play allowing 80 points per game. They play a fast pace and get up a lot of shots and possessions while looking to speed up their opponent with a fairly regular 3/4 court 1-2-2 trapping zone. They will usually fall back into a 2-3 zone after applying some down the court pressure. With a lot of shots and a lot of possessions comes a lot of rebounds. The are 14th in the NCAA in both total rebounds and defensive rebounds.
The Cats defense struggled against USC last game and gave up 80 points, which is only the 3rd time this season that an opponent has scored 80 or more points against them–one of those times being an overtime game against Utah.
Both of these teams are desperate for a bounce-back game after recent struggles. UCLA has lost 3 in a row and Arizona has lost 2 of its last 3.
The Bruins are a notoriously poor free throw shooting team this year coming in at an abysmal 347th in the NCAA with a 60% team average. 7’1″ Moses Brown, though talented, will be a target for late game fouls if the game remains close towards the end. This season he is shooting 33% from the line and we shouldn’t be surprised to see a Hack-A-Mo strategy late in a close game.
A plus for Arizona this game is that they generally get a lot of turnovers (1st in the Pac-12) from their opponents and UCLA will give the ball up quite a bit as they haven’t been taking care of the ball recently. During Coach Alford’s 13 games the Bruins averaged 13.4 turnovers per game. In the 6 games under Coach Bartow they are averaging a whopping 17.3 turnovers per game.
UCLA is like a lot of Pac-12 teams this season. Extremely talented but quite schizophrenic. This could be the most talented roster in the Pac-12 and they can keep sending in fresh and very good players as they go 9 deep with each of those 9 averaging at least 14 minutes per game. Arizona has struggled against zone defenses and has felt the effect of not having Chase Jeter recently. The Bruins will have a significant and , most likely, insurmountable advantage inside if Jeter sits out again.