Wednesday, December 03, 2008

UCLA vs. Texas - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The young Bruins travel to Austin to face the No.8 ranked Texas Longhorns on Thursday. It will be the team's first road game of the year on an opponent's home floor.

This is the second year of the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series. Last season, the Longhorns beat the Bruins 63-61 at Pauley Pavilion on a slam dunk off a missed shot at the end of the game. Texas' D.J Augustin threw up an off balance airball from the baseline as time was running out but forward Damion James grabbed the ball and slammed it through for the win.

The Longhorns' (5-1) only blemish this young season was a tough loss to a good Notre Dame team, 81-80, in the Maui Classic. Texas beat the Oregon Ducks, 70-57, in the consolation game of the tournament. Last week they beat Rice, 77-56, at home in Austin

UCLA is ranked No.9/12 in the polls this week. The Bruins suffered their only loss of the season when it was upset by Michigan two weeks ago in the 2K Sports Classic in New York. However the Bruins have rebounded with consecutive wins against Southern Illinois and Florida International University.

Despite losing point-guard star D.J Augustin to the NBA last summer, the Longhorns return a deep and solid veteran squad.

The Longhorns are a big and athletic squad. They play an aggressive man-to-man defense and apply tough pressure on the ball on the perimeter. They allow just 34% shooting from the field while out-rebounding opponents by 8.2 caroms per game.

On offense Texas shoots 46.6% from the field and a respectable 36% from beyond the arc. The Longhorns are equipped with numerous weapons on the floor.

With Augustin gone, the point-guard duties have been shared by starters A.J Abrams (Sr, 5'11, 160) and Justin Mason (Jr, 6'2, 195).

Abrams is not a natural point-guard and has had to adjust to his new role. He is the team's leading scorer averaging 15.8 points but just 1.8 assists. An outside bomber, Abrams is shooting 42.2% on three-pointers while at the same time hitting on just 42.0% from the field.

Mason is a muscular and powerful guard who can hit from outside and drive strong to the hoop. He is averaging 9.8 points and 4.7 assists and leads the team in free throw attemps (23). A solid defender, Mason averages 2.1 steals per game.

Darren Collison, who was just returning from an injury in last year's match-up, will be matched up Abrams. Holiday will take care of Mason to start the contest, it will be a good test for the young Bruin freshman. Holiday is coming off a 20 point performance against FIU last week.

Foward Damion James (Jr, 6'7, 222) terrorized UCLA last year scoring a game-high 19 points primarily against a pretty good defender named Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Of course the Bruins no longer have Mbah a Moute and instead will assign senior Josh Shipp to stop James. This will be a tough match-up for Shipp who is not considered a defensive stopper but he probably matches up best physically against James.

James is a physical and athletic wing who can carry a team when he gets it going. At 6'7 he is big enough to post up smaller players and quick and athletic enough to go score around bigger defenders. He is averaging 14.5 points and grabbing a team-high 8.0 rebounds a game.

At the power forward spot is Connor Atchley (Sr, 6'11, 230). A big man who can hit from the outside, he's shooting over 46% from beyond the arc. Atchley can also score from inside, he's averaging 9.8 points and grabbing 4.7 rebounds per game.

James Keefe will match-up initially against Atchley. Bruins are still waiting for Keefe to have a break-out game this season. The team could definitely use a strong showing by Keefe in this tough road game match-up.

At center the Longhorns start big Dexter Pittman (Jr, 6-10, 290) but he averages just 9.5 minutes a game. Sophomore Gary Johnson (So, 6'6, 230) gets most of his minutes. Off the bench, Johnson is a bruising player who averages 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 23.7 minutes a game.

Pittman is a space eater inside. He is averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks a game.

Others coming off the bench with key roles for Texas are guards Ward Varez (Fr, 6'2, 190) and Dogus Balbay (So, 6'0, 175), and forward Clint Chapman (So, 6'10, 235).

This young Bruin team will be an underdog against the veteran Longhorns. It will be especially interesting to watch how the UCLA freshmen react to the challenge of a top Division I team on a hostile court. The freshmen will need to maintain their composure and stay aggressive.

If UCLA expects to pull out a victory, their three seniors, Collison, Shipp, and Aboya will need to come up big on both ends of the floor. The Longhorns are a big and physical team, and the Bruins will need to match their energy and more if they expect a win.

Expect a slugfest in Austin.

Game Information

Date: December 4, 2008

Time: 6:00 PM PT

Place: Frank Erwin Center, TX



At Dec 3, 2008, 4:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hook em' Horns by -2. Return the favor from last year.

At Dec 3, 2008, 8:27:00 PM, Anonymous Gunther G. said...

Sorry all... The Pac is weak this year. Horns win by 10. Game will be ugly and UCLA will not look good. Unfortunately predict this will be rather embarassing for the league on national TV.

At Dec 4, 2008, 1:24:00 AM, Anonymous JW said...

I hope we can pull off an upset, it will give me a lot of hope for the year. There is 1 major consolation to everything this year: After watching North Carolina last night, it is clear that not only will they not lose a single game this year, I doubt they will ever win by less than 20! So everyone else is only playing for 2nd place. If we can beat Texas on their court tonight, then I know this team can get back to the final four to loose to UNC.

At Dec 4, 2008, 2:15:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

I look forward to seeing our Freshmen play...guys, try to limit the turnovers...might have to go through growing pains tomorrow's not how you start the season, it's how you finish the season...
GO BRUINS! It would be a gr8 win!!

At Dec 4, 2008, 4:30:00 AM, Anonymous Grrr said...

Agreed, Bruinfan. More playing time for the freshman is key.
I'm sure Coach Howland is allowing Shipp to shoot 8 times a game so he can improve his draft stock. But if Shipp doesn't deliver again, I'd be more than thrilled to see Holiday, Roll and Lee get at least 8 shot attempts for themselves in this game.
Also, I hope D.C. fires up his teammates more instead of just conferencing with Josh all the time.
It's going to be a hard game but I'd rather see the Bruins grow in a tough loss than see them beat a Division II team by 20. Go Bruins! Revenge over Texas would be great indeed!

At Dec 4, 2008, 5:15:00 AM, Anonymous Gunther G. said...

JW... you are spot on. UNC looks insane this year. Moreso then Florida did when they all returned. I don't see how they lose at all this year even on a terrible day. 2nd place is the race.

At Dec 4, 2008, 8:07:00 AM, Anonymous Rose Bowler said...

Oh boy! Though I still have a fondness for Texas because Vince Young and the Longhorns knocked USC out of the BCS Title Game a few years back, I think we may get slammed tonight. Hope I'm wrong... Heck the Bruins beating Texas is no big a stretch than Craft NOT throwing an INT against SC Saturday.

At Dec 4, 2008, 8:31:00 AM, Anonymous Robwash said...

UCLA by 7

At Dec 4, 2008, 9:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone just see that flagrant foul on Blake Giffin that got Leonard Washington ejected? Typical $uC. Off the ball, no play in progress yet he walks straight up to Griffin and practically punches him below the belt.

At Dec 4, 2008, 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous kimdizzle said...

i miss kevin love. . .

At Dec 4, 2008, 12:59:00 PM, Anonymous Grrr said...

Tough loss and I'll leave it at that.
As far as the 'SC game goes, Blake Griffin isn't the cleanest player either. There are two sides of every story and Washington just happened to get caught.

At Dec 4, 2008, 1:02:00 PM, Anonymous kdl1984 said...

Just got finished watching the game and although I thought they would lose, I have to admit that Collison looked pretty damn good. Yes we lost, but it's early in the season. The Frosh didn't get much playing time besides Jrue though. The defense stepped it up in the 2nd half, but our shots weren't falling at the end. Josh, you need to practice your clutch free throws when the game is on the line! Could have gotten us within a couple of points. Alfred was a monster in the 2nd half. He didn't score much, but played with a lot of fire, grabbing a bunch of rebounds.
It'll take time folks. With CBH at the helm, this team will find a way to get back to the final four. It may not be our year to win it all, but I have a lot of faith that Coach will get them ready for league and the tournament.
Keep rooting them on fellow Bruins! We can "will them" to the finals!


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