Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UCLA vs. Mississippi Valley State - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Top-seed UCLA (31-3) opens NCAA tournament action against No.16 seed Mississippi Valley State (MVS) in a West regional first-round contest in Anaheim.

The Bruins won the Pac-10 tournament championship last week defeating Stanford 67-64. Darren Collison scored 28 points to help UCLA to a three-game series sweep over Stanford.

In the championship game, UCLA center Kevin Love strained his back which limited his action during play. Love has practiced the past couple of days and although the back is still sore he is expected to play on Thursday without any limitations.

Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sat out the championship game against Stanford. He re-injured his left ankle in the semifinal game against USC. UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Wednesday afternoon that he thought Mbah a Moute's ankle had recovered enough and stated he might start against MVU. If Mbah a Moute does play on Thursday, one would expect it would be in a limited role.

The Delta Devils (17-15) hail out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The 3,767-student school in Itta Bena, Miss., is best known as the alma mater of Jerry Rice, the NFL's career leading receiver. They earned an NCAA tournament bid after defeating Jackson State, 59-58 to win the SWAC conference tournament and automatic NCAA postseason bid.

UCLA and MVS have had one common opponent this season in Washington State. The Delta Devils were pummeled by the Cougars at Pullman, 71-26. One MVU player, Carl Lucas, scored 18 of his team's 26 points. Moreover, Washington State starters only played half the game with no starter logging more than 22 minutes.

After losing 11 of its first 13 games of the season, MVS settled down and won 15 of its last 19 contests including its last nine games of the season.

MVS is a patient team in the offensive halfcourt and will fastbreak when an opportunity arises. The Delta Devils are shooting just 40.6% from the field and 34.6% on three-pointers while averaging 62.7 points per game. In conference play, their interior size game them an advantage in the paint, however don't expect Delta Devils to do the same against UCLA, MVS will be out-sized and out-talented in the interior against the Bruins.

On the defensive end, MVS plays primarily a man-to-man defense. They allowed 65.8 points on 44.2% shooting. Opponents have outrebounded the Delta Devils by a +1.7 margin.

MVS has a veteran line-up of upperclassmen including three seniors and two juniors.

The team's leading scorer is Carl Lucas (6'5, 210, Sr) who is averaging 12.7 points per game on 44.3% shooting. He is the team's best three-point threat averaging 41.5% from beyond the arc. Lucas was named most valuable player in the SWAC tournament.

Center Larry Cox (6'10, 225, Sr) gives MVS a serious low-post threat. The senior is averaging 12.4 points on 51% shooting. Cox leads the team in rebounding with 8.0 per game.

UCLA has way too much going for it in this opening round game. Not only do the Bruins have an overwhelming talent and statistical advantage over MVS at every spot on the floor, it also has some serious history on its side.

No. 1 seeds are 92-0 against No. 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

The winner of this game will play the winner of No.8 BYU versus No.9 Texas A&M. The second round game will be played on Saturday.

Game Snapshot

First Round NCAA Tournament
UCLA vs Mississipi Valley State
Time: approx. 6:50PM PT
Place: Honda Center, Anaheim CA
Radio: AM 1150

(photo credit: MVS Athletics)



At Mar 20, 2008, 1:34:00 AM, Anonymous BruinBlue said...

I really don't like the idea of luc playing much less starting. Ben should sit him out against this way overmatched opponent. My fingers are crossed...

At Mar 20, 2008, 3:46:00 AM, Anonymous DJ said...

actually I think it would be good to give Luc some reps in a doubt he'll be tentative in this game anyways...get it out of the way so he'll be more confident playing against BYU or TAM...

At Mar 20, 2008, 5:50:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

UCLA by 20+

At Mar 20, 2008, 7:26:00 AM, Anonymous J said...

UCLA by 84!


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