UCLA’S UPCOMING OPPONENTS:
Washington Huskies, Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA, Thursday, February 2, 6:00 p.m.
Record: 14-7, 7-2 in the Pac-12 Conference
Well, I regret to say that the UCLA Bruins have another Pacific Northwest trip to worry about, and just two weeks after getting beat by the Oregon schools in that same part of the country.
When I saw that the schedule makers have the Bruins playing a first place Washington Husky team on Thursday evening, I wondered if they had some kind of vendetta, because these Dawgs from Seattle are good.
So much so that, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t expect Ben Howland’s team to win this game – especially since it’s at their place, which is considered the toughest for visiting teams in the Pac-12.
These Huskies from U-Dub run on a three guard set with players at that position being the team’s top three scorers, led by freshman guard Tony Wroten and his 17.1 points per game.
Sophomores Terrance Ross and C.J. Wilcox join Wroten in the backcourt and have likewise done damage for Washington, with Ross averaging 15.1 points a game and Wilcox averaging 14.8.
7′ 0″ junior Aziz N’Diaye is a threat on the boards at center with his 8.1 rebounds a contest, and he will provide a real threat for Joshua Smith down low.
When one puts this all together, combined that they will be in front of their fans, and it spells a situation where the Bruins (12-9, 5-4 in the Pac-12) will have to play a near-perfect game in order to beat them.
I’d say the same in regards to any team that’s tied for first place in their conference (with California in this case), gave the all-powerful Duke Blue Devils a battle on December 10, and have beaten UCLA in Seattle every year since 2004, which describes Washington.
One thing is for certain: UCLA will definitely know what how good they really are by around 8:30 p.m on Thursday.
Washington State Cougars, Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA, Saturday, February 4, 2:00 p.m.
Record: 11-10, 3-6 in the Pac-12 Conference
At first glance, this would seem like the game that the Bruin hoopsters can win, being that these Cougars from the Palouse have a worse record than UCLA in the conference and overall.
The monkey wrench in that theory, however, is the fact that this game is on the road, where the Bruins have won only one game – against last place USC at the nearby Galen Center – this year, and are definitely a team that cannot take anyone for granted away from their home court and their fans.
Add to that the fact that Wazzu recently beat first place Cal at home, and that is a real cause for concern as Lazeric Jones, Jerime Anderson, the Wear twins and company need to bring their “A” game.
Brock Motum, a 6′ 10″ junior forward, leads the Cougars with 16.4 points and 6.5 rebounds a game, while senior guard Faisal Aden averages 14.5 points a contest, and Reggie Moore leads the team with 117 assists at the point.
There’s not much more to say about Washington State, except that this is a team that’s very capable of sending UCLA home winless in the Pacific Northwest – again – or at least with one loss, which would maim their chances in the conference.
To avoid that bad scenario, the Bruins absolutely must, to paraphrase John Wooden, “Be at their best when their best is needed”.
And believe me, if they are to beat these Washington schools, their best will definitely be needed this coming weekend.