Saturday, February 09, 2008

UCLA vs. Washington - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA takes its five game winning streak into Seattle to face the Washington Huskies in a Sunday afternoon affair at Bank of America Arena.

The Bruins beat Washington State on Thursday night in the first leg of their road trip, 67-59. Darren Collison scored 18 points and Kevin Love added 16 points and 9 rebounds as the Bruins swept the season series with the Cougars.

UCLA (21-2, 9-1) sits atop the Pac-10 conference one-half game ahead of the Stanford Cardinal.

Washington (12-11, 3-7 Pac-10) are reeling having lost three straight games during its latest home stand. They are in ninth place in the Pac-10 and will likely miss the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season.

On Thursday the Huskies were trounced by USC, 73-59. Junior forward Jon Brockman led the team with 13 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.

In the last meeting between UCLA and Washington in January, Russell Westbrook made 6 of 7 from the field for a game-high 18 points to UCLA to a 69-55 win at Pauley Pavilion. In the game, the Bruins led by as much as 22 points before cruising to the final victory. Darren Collison suffered a hip bruise and had to leave the game early.

Washington, as evidenced by their record and inconsistent play, has not found its rhythm this season. Head Coach Lorenzo Romar has implemented six different starting lineups this season. Jon Brockman is the only Husky player to start every game.

The Huskies are shooting 45% from the field while allowing opponents 46.2% field goal shooting. With the lack of vertical size in the interior, teams have been able to go inside on the Huskies. As a result, Coach Romar has used a lot zone defense to protect the paint this season while mixing it up at times with a man-to-man.

Led by Jon Brockman's 11.3 rebounds per game, the Huskies are outrebounding opponents by a +6.7 margin.

Brockman (6'7, 255, Jr) accounts for more than 25% of the team's total scoring output with 18.4 per game. The wide-bodied big man is shooting 54% from the field. He scored 16 points and had 8 rebounds against UCLA in the first game and generally outplayed freshman Kevin Love who scored just 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting.

But Kevin Love today is a much different player from the one who played in early January. Since the game against Washington, Love is averaging 21.3 points a contest. This epic match-up between two of the Pac-10's best and most physical low post players is worth the price of admission alone.

The other big man along the Husky front line is Artem Wallace (6'8, 250, Jr) who starts but shuffles in and out with forward Quincy Pondexter (6'6, 210, So).

Wallace is a physical player with limited skill on the offensive end. He is averaging just 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12.1 minutes a contest.

Pondexter has had a disappointing sophomore campaign. Once looked upon as a cornerstone for the future of the team, he has struggled in all facets of his game this season, averaging 9.0 points on 42.9% shooting. He has looked lost at times on both ends of the floor.

The Huskies have used primarily a three-guard set all season with a rotation of Ryan Appley, Tim Morris, Justin Dentmon, and Venoy Overton.

Appleby (6'3, 170, Sr) in his final collegiate campaign is the team's second-leading scorer with a 10.5 scoring average. He is shooting almost 40% on three-pointers. At Pauley Pavilion earlier this season, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook combined to hold Appleby scoreless on a frustrating 0 for 2 shooting.

Tim Morris (6'4, 210, Sr) is a physical player who gives this team some much needed toughness on the floor. The Huskies tend to play better whenever he's on the floor due to his heady play. Morris is averaging 8.4 points on 49.1% shooting.

Justin Dentmon (5'11, 185, Jr) has been very inconsistent with his play this season. He started the season strong but his role on the team seems to change with every game. Dentmon has only started 8 games this season. He is averaging 9.0 points and just 2.5 assists in 24.5 minutes.

Freshman Venoy Overton (5'11, 180) has given the Huskies quality minutes in his first year of the program. He's averaging 4.7 points and a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Overton will need to improve his shooting, just 32.6% this season, to be a factor in the future on this team.

Although the Huskies have had respectable recruiting classes the past few seasons, many of the key players have not developed to expectations or have transferred to other schools. The loss of Husky center Spencer Hawes to the NBA draft was big setback for the team this last summer. The transfer to other schools by freshmen Phil Nelson last season and Adrian Oliver this year have hurt the team's depth. Underclassmen such as Dentmon and Pondexter have been disappointments thus far, and if the Huskies are to rise again in the Pac-10, these two sophomores will need to step up their game.

UCLA will need to guard against some complacency coming into this game in Seattle. The Bruins have been cruising along during their latest win streak. Teammates are sharing the ball with each other and having fun while doing it.

Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is expected to miss his second consecutive game due to a sprained ankle he suffered against Arizona last week.

(photo credit: UW Athletics)



At Feb 9, 2008, 6:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UCLA by 10

At Feb 10, 2008, 12:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Washington by -25.

At Feb 10, 2008, 1:24:00 AM, Anonymous Lars said...

How does Romar keep his job...? UW has gone down hill quickly to being a zero factor in the Pac10.

At Feb 10, 2008, 1:34:00 AM, Anonymous J said...

Update on Luc's condition? Will LUC be ready for USC?

At Feb 10, 2008, 1:36:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

We understand he's made good progress and is probable next week for the USC game.

At Feb 10, 2008, 5:17:00 AM, Anonymous Allan McEachern said...

Excellent Preview - UCLA will have no problem with this Husky team. I expect Aboya will have quality minutes

At Feb 10, 2008, 7:55:00 AM, Anonymous Sunny said...

Will we ever win at UW?

At Feb 10, 2008, 8:16:00 AM, Anonymous geoff said...

what happened to collison today? Dentmon hasn't had that good of a game all season, and collison is supposed to be a premier lockdown defender. Collison plays well today, and we win that game. I understand that players have bad games, but a player of Collison's caliber should never play that poorly. I'm sure that we'll bounce back from this, but it's a very disappointing lost to a team that is having a down and out year.

At Feb 10, 2008, 8:20:00 AM, Anonymous alan said...

UCLA is not going to win games where Collison and Westbrook combine to go 6-24
I actually only caught the end of the game, but why did UCLA wait so long to switch Westbrook on defense to Dentmon?

At Feb 10, 2008, 10:17:00 AM, Anonymous geoff said...

i was yelling at my tv for howland to make the switch throughout the second half. westbrook has proven time and time again that he is the best defender we have. If collison can't get the job done (which is a rarity), why not give westbrook a shot with more than a minute and a half left in the game?
The defense was poor today, and the shoots just weren't going in... We have to come out with the mentality that every game is live or die. Our guys say that all the time, but you can tell that the high level of intensity was absent today. When we want to destroy teams, we do. all i have to say is that i hope we seen them in the pac-10 tourney, and I hope we come to play.


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