UCLA’S NEXT OPPONENTS:
Utah Utes, Los Angeles Sports Arena, Thursday, January 26, 7:30 p.m.
Record: 5-14, 2-5 in the Pac-12 Conference
After falling apart in the state of Oregon, these Utes from Salt Lake City seem to be just what the UCLA Bruins need to get back on track, as only USC has a worse conference and overall record than these Pac-12 newbies.
Jason Washburn, a 6′ 10″ junior center, is – frankly speaking – the only Utah player worth mentioning as he’s the only Ute who’s averaging in double figures points-wise, 10.7 per game. He also leads the team in rebounding with 6.5 a contest.
Having endured an eight-game losing streak earlier in the season, which resulted in them having a 1-8 record at one point, the one positive thing to say about Utah’s basketball team is that they beat Arizona State in their last outing rather handily, 64-43.
Than again, at 6-13 ASU is a pretty bad team in their own right and in complete disarray, so that shouldn’t tell folks much.
Simply put, UCLA shouldn’t have too much of a problem with the Utes if they hit their shots, are focused, and particularly if the Wear twins, Travis and David, as well as Joshua Smith, do their job to contain Washburn, who is Utah’s only real threat.
Assuming that things go as planned, the challenge for Ben Howland’s team will be two days later with the other Pac-12 newcomer…
Colorado Buffaloes, Los Angeles Sports Arena, Saturday, January 28, 1:00 p.m.
Record: 13-6, 5-2 in the Pac-12 Conference
I’m going to be honest…
After looking at Colorado’s record and statistics, it is clear that this is a team that the Bruins need to be concerned about as these Buffaloes from Boulder have four players averaging in double figures, led by senior guard Carlon Brown.
Brown is averaging 13.4 points a game and is second on the Buffs in assists with 42 while his backcourt partner, Spencer Dinwiddie, averages 10.7 points per contest. Leading CU with 59 assists is Nate Tominson, giving the Buffaloes a formidable three-guard attack.
As challenging as their guards will be, it’s Colorado’s front line that will cause particular worry as forward Andre Robinson not only averages 10.9 points per game, he’s also the rebound leader with 11.1 boards a contest, making him a double-double threat that Smith and the Wear twins will have to try and contain.
And to add to Robinson’s threat, wing partner Austin Default has a higher points average than Robinson at 11.6.
The Buffaloes have beaten Arizona as well as having swept the Washington schools this year, and have won eight of their past ten games.
If UCLA is to truly get back into the swing of things in the conference, a sweep this weekend is important – that means they must play better defense and, especially, hit their free throws.
Being at “home” in the Sports Arena in front of their fans and student section will help.
To sum things up, these next two games will go a long way to tell how the rest of the season will go - will the Bruins step up?