UCLA Basketball: Previewing The Fresno State Bulldogs


Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA hoops (8-3) enters their Saturday night match-up with the Fresno State Bulldogs (5-6) coming off a three-game winning streak, albeit against the weakest part of their schedule.

Meanwhile, these Bulldogs are a-strugglin’, coming off a three-game losing streak to slightly better competition, albeit weak competition regardless.

Offensively, Fresno State is pretty awful, at least statistically. Shooting at a 38 percent clip is never something to hang your hat on, but that’s about all Fresno State has. The Bulldogs don’t do very well from deep either, shooting at a disgusting 30 percent rate from downtown.

In Fresno State’s last game, a 58-51 loss to the UCI Anteaters (a 6-7 team that UCLA needed to put away in overtime), the Bulldogs’ offensive efficiency was a dastardly 76.1 while also shooting at a facepalming 25 percent from the floor, brought down by a 3-for-18 performance from deep. Against UCI, these Bulldogs were gifted 20 points off of 24 free throw attempts, meaning the Anteaters’ knack for hacking (they gave up 27 free throw attempts to UCLA, which essentially buried the ‘Eaters) allowed Fresno State to score more than 39 points.

And while UCLA fans bitch and moan about the defense (as is their right, considering the Bruins’ defense is probably as bad as it gets at nearly every facet except the “defense against really terrible teams on offense” facet), Fresno State is not much better than CSU-San Marcos on offense.

(Lest you forget, UCLA lost to Cal Poly. So “sleepwalking” through games is not an option.)

Defensively? Fresno State is much better. Not as “good” as Texas, mind you (although we’re suspect that the Longhorns actually played defense ever, as opposed to UT just playing their schedule), but their games are rarely lost by way of defense.

In fact, the Bulldogs have yet to allow an opposing team to score 70 points this season, and though they haven’t played a team remotely close to UCLA’s level offensively (not to say UCLA’s offense is fantastic, but it sure as hell is competent), holding 11 straight teams to under 70 is a sign of consistent defense. Adjusted for pace, Fresno State lays claim to a top-50 scoring defense nationally behind an 89.6 defensive rating. They rank top-25 in three-point attempts allowed, top-10 in successful three point conversions (football termz), and top-40 in three-point percentage, all while holding opponents to 40 percent from the floor on the season. UCI was held to 34 percent from the floor against Fresno State and went 3-for-16 from downtown. By comparison, the ‘Eaters went a ridiculous 10-for-22 from downtown, a function of UCLA’s crappy three-point defense, although UCI shoots well above the 18 percent from three that they “achieved” against Fresno State.

Meaning UCLA’s offense could be tested, much like the way they were tested against Texas (although that was probably UCLA’s offense crumbling at the presence of a semblance of defensive competence). Fresno State will force UCLA to play with effort on offense, which will be great for UCLA, a team that checks out as soon as tip-off.

This should be a blow-out game for the Bruins. Fresno State may be stingy on defense (albeit against just mid-majors and Texas, which is about as mid-major’y of an offense as you can get), but their offense is far worse than Texas’ was and they’ve also had a worse season thus far, surprisingly.

We’ll see though, because while three wins in a row is nice, they aren’t coming against powerhouses at all.

Here’s to tip-off at 8 PM PST.