The UCLA Bruins (10-2) are set to face SEC hoopsters, the Alabama Crimson Tide (5-6) in their final non-conference game of the regular season. Conference play s almost here and if you have not seen these speedy Bruins, get down to Westwood and #FillPauley!
TV: ESPN 2
Location: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET
Odds: UCLA -9
Ticket Information: uclabruins.com/tickets
Preview: This will be an interesting match-up for the UCLA Bruins as they face a team that is, well, not a cupcake. You see, Alabama knows how to schedule games and because of that, they are battle-ready. Unfortunately, they have been battle-beaten in the process. Sure, they are below .500, but they have played teams that have gotten them ready for a match-up like this one against UCLA.
The Crimson Tide roll into Westwood with a schedule of experience that has had them go against a variety of basketball teams. They have gone from playing Division II, Stillman College (W, 102-65), to playing #9 Duke (L, 64-74) and #10 Wichita State (L, 67-72). So far, they have prepared themselves a little better than the Bruins when it comes to conference and post-season play. The biggest alarm going off that signals this is the win-loss record of Alabama’s opponents which is 85-46 (64.9%) as opposed to the Bruin’s opponent win-loss record of 61-65 (48.4%). Scheduling counts.
Despite their record, Alabama has some very good athletes, particularly senior guard, Trevor Releford, who can score inside and from beyond the arc. Sometimes, way beyond the arc. He is leading his team with 17.0 points per game and swagger. Retin Obasohan is a sophomore guard from Belgium that is another guy that can score points for the Tide as he has 13.9 (2nd on team).
Two other dangerous characters are 6’8” junior forward, Nick Jacobs, and 6’5” junior guard, Levi Randolph, who are both averaging over ten points per game as well as both leading the team in rebounds with 4.6 per game.
For the Bruins, defense and rebounds have been the biggest issues for this squad. It has been a week since their last game and have had that time to work on those issues. In the game against Weber St., the Bruins had trouble securing the rebounds and got outhustled on the boards more times than the would like.If they do not find a way to get this part of their game going, we could see an upset in ol’ Pauley.
In that game, UCLA only had 10 rebounds combined amongst their bigs: Wanaah Bail (0), Tony Parker (5), David Wear (3) and Travis Wear (2). Kyle Anderson, the 6’9” “point forward” equaled that amount in the same game, so yeah, someone else needs to get in there and get tough on the glass.
We do have to give some props to Parker, because even though he only got five boards, he did get more physical going to the hoop as he came away with 15 points against Weber St., going 7 of 11 from the field. It was not only a statistical improvement, but physically, he looked more in tuned to his game than he had previously. Let us hope this is constant and continues to improve his inside presence for the Bruins.
Prediction: Alabama 66 – UCLA 78