Friday, February 01, 2008

UCLA vs. Arizona - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

One of college basketball's fiercest rivalries arrives at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday when No.5 ranked UCLA takes on Arizona in a nationally televised event on ESPN.

It is the 75th meeting between the two schools with UCLA holding a 43-31 series advantage. Arizona has won 11 of the last 19 meetings in the series, but UCLA has won the last five, including the last contest, an 81-66 rout in Tucson last February.

The rivalry matches the two best Pac-10 basketball programs of the past decade, but it will be missing a familiar face along the visitor's sideline.

Prior to the season, Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson said he would be taking a leave of absence due to a personal matter, and then later in December it was announced Olson, the "Silver Fox", would not return at all this season.

Assistant coach Kevin O’Neill was given the head coaching responsibilities for the season, and O'Neill has been tabbed by the school as Olson’s successor when he decides to ultimately retire.

The Wildcats bring a four-game win streak into Saturday night's game.

Thursday night at the Galen Center, Chase Budinger had 29 points and eight rebounds to lead Arizona to an 80-69 victory over USC. He made 11 of 20 field goals, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc for the Wildcats (15-6, 5-3). Senior Jawann McClellan added 23 points.

During Arizona’s current four-game win streak the club has connected on 53.6% (104-of-194) of its field goal attempts. Individually, five Wildcats are shooting 50% or better during the same span: Jawann McClellan 58.6%, Jerryd Bayless 55.6%, Nic Wise 54.5%, Chase Budinger 52.5%, and Jordan Hill 50%.

On the season, Arizona is 7-2 when outrebounding the opposition and carries a +1.3 rebound margin. Hill leads the team in rebounding with a 8.2 average.

The Wildcats are holding opponents to 66.6 points and a 34.7% shooting average. They play both man-to-man and zone defense. Coach O'Neill said he'd like the team to play more man-to-man this season, but lack of player depth has forced him to play more zone than he'd planned.

After briefly flirting with the idea of leaving for the NBA last season, forward Chase Budinger made the right decision and returned to Tucson for his sophomore campaign. He is averaging 18.2 points a game and shooting 45.3% while hitting from three at a 40.2% clip.

Budinger (6'7, 205, So), a San Diego native, is a pure shooter from the outside and can finish at the basket, however he has a tendency to disappear on the floor when faced against a more physical opponent.

UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, one of the team's best defenders, will have the primary assignment of guarding Budinger. Mbah a Moute played only 17 minutes against Arizona State because of early foul trouble - perhaps it was too much excitement of returning to the lineup after missing two games due to a concussion.

Mbah a Moute needs to stay on the floor and avoid those silly fouls that plagued him in the last game. His length and physicality will pose a problem for Budinger. The scouting report on Budinger is not to give him room to shoot from the perimeter and instead force him to put the ball on the floor where his suspect handles can get him in trouble.

Much attention has been given to UCLA's Kevin Love as top freshman in the conference but Arizona's Jerryd Bayless is deserving of notice as well.

Bayless (6'3, 193, Fr) ranks third in the Pac-10 in scoring with a 19.3 point average. He's shooting a sizzling 44% from beyond the arc. A tough player to guard off the dribble, Bayless has the ability to penetrate into the paint to create offense for himself or dish to a teammate.

One of the keys to Arizona's offense is dribble penetration and kicking to the open man. The last few seasons, Arizona has lacked a guard who could penetrate and create, but they have such a player in Bayless.

Stopping Bayless from getting into the paint off the dribble is one of the keys to the game.

Fortunately for UCLA their best perimeter defender is 6'3 guard Russell Westbrook who will take on Bayless. Westbrook locked down Arizona State's James Harden on Thursday limiting the freshman to just 9 points.

Arizona lacks big bodies in the low post but Jordan Hill's stellar play this season has helped make up the difference. Hill is averaging 13.1 points on 61.9% field goal shooting. He has really improved his low post presence on both ends of the court. Hill is averaging almost two blocks a game.

Hill (6'9, 211, So) still has a tendency to be foul prone at times and he will have a tough time handling UCLA's big man Kevin Love down low. With reserve Kirk Walter (6'11, 254, Sr) providing very little support off the bench, if Hill gets into any foul trouble the Wildcats don't have the bodies inside to keep up with the Bruins.

At another wing is senior Jawann McCllelan (6'4, 211). After battling injuries most of his collegiate career, he is averaging over 35 minutes a game this season. A powerfully built player, he is still a threat from outside if he gets it going. This will be a good match-up for UCLA's Josh Shipp.

Point-guard Nic Wise has had a solid season after a suspect freshman year. Wise (5'9, 173, So) is averaging 8.1 points and 4.1 assists. While Bayless can run the point, he is really more of a shooting guard. Although he is shooting 46% from the field and 48% on three-pointers, Wise does take ill-advised shots at times. A good ball handler with a 2.12 Assist-to turnover ratio.

Playing minutes on the wing is freshman Jamelle Horne (6'6, 204, Fr), his play has been inconsistent this season. While he has shown flashes of brilliance, his game still needs much refining.

This is not a deep Wildcats team. Three starters play over 35 minutes a game and two over 28 minutes. Reserves Daniel Dillion (6'3, 205, Sr), Bret Brielmaier (6'6, 237, Sr), and Fendi Onobum (6'6, 239, Jr) give the Wildcats some minutes off the bench - but they've sparse of late. Against the Trojans, O'Neill played his top five players over 33 minutes each.

UCLA will no doubt see a lot of zone from the Wildcats who will try to preserve their top players and to keep them in the game.

The Bruins are coming off one of their best performances of the year against Arizona State, and will need to make sure they come in with the same intensity they showed on Thursday night.

As the game wears on, the Bruin's depth and physical play should ultimately be the deciding factor in the game.

Date: Feb. 2
UCLA vs Arizona
Time: 6:00 PM PT
Place: Pauley Pavilion
Radio: AM 570

BBR Notes: Lorenzo Mata-Real's x-rays on his wrist were negative, however, the wrist is till very sore. He is listed as questionable for Saturday's game.

(photo credit: UA Athletics)



At Feb 1, 2008, 2:20:00 PM, Anonymous JackB said...

Great preview as always. Always love BBR to get me ready and pumped for the game. Go Bruins!
UCLA vs UA ---Best game of the year!

At Feb 1, 2008, 3:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruins by 15

At Feb 1, 2008, 7:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zona by -12.

At Feb 2, 2008, 12:09:00 AM, Anonymous DT said...

Big week for the Bruins. . .Kansas loss, Duke and NC play next week. . .UCLA @ Wazzu. . .could see Ben & Boyz ranked #2. Is Roll going to play by mid-February?

At Feb 2, 2008, 4:37:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Pound the ball inside Bruins!! They are not deep and cannot handle Love...
UCLA by 15....

At Feb 2, 2008, 6:51:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Roll is still a few weeks away from possibly returning. He has said he would make a decision on whether to return or redshirt at that time. He's walking without crutches at this point.

At Feb 2, 2008, 7:02:00 AM, Anonymous willis said...

Remember that basketball is all about match-ups and execution. Bruins have the advantage at most positions and a deeper bench. I'll call Westbrook vs Bayless even, Shipp over McClellan, Love a strong edge over Hill, and Collison a strong edge over Wise. I give Buddinger a strong edge over Luc Richard. UCLA's execution is far better than Arizona's. Defensively the Bruins are a much better team. Bruins by 8.


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