UCLA Basketball: What Will We See Against Pepperdine?

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The UCLA Basketball team plays their third game in six days as they take on the Pepperdine Waves at Pauley Pavilion tonight.

Records: Pepperdine 1-1, UCLA 1-1

Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. PT

Location: Pauley Pavilion (Cap. 12,829)

Tickets: UCLABruins.com

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: AM 570

Betting Line: UCLA -7.0

Preview: The UCLA Basketball team is unexpectedly 1-1 going into their third game of the season after a two games that were the splitting image of each other, except with different results. The Bruins lost to Monmouth last Friday after giving up a double-digit lead in the second half. On Sunday, the Bruins defeated Cal Poly after giving up a double-digit lead in the second half.

RELATED: UCLA Beats Cal Poly Behind Parker, Welsh

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This is a pattern that needs to be stopped and that should be what we see against Pepperdine.

In both games, UCLA had started slow in the first half and then got things in order to start the second. The result was a beautifully executed offensive game plan that gave the Bruins a double-digit lead. Unfortunately, UCLA’s lack of defense allowed both Monmouth and Cal Poly to get back in the game midway through the second half, with both teams eventually taking a lead.

The positive take away from this pattern is that the Bruins seemed to understand their folly against Cal Poly and instead of folding, as they did against Monmouth, they forged ahead to get the win.

Improvements came mainly from the back court as the Bruin’s guard play was more consistent (sans the second half Cal Poly comeback). In particular, Isaac Hamilton awoke from his Monmouth slumber and nearly captured a triple-double with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.

We also saw an energized Aaron Holiday who added 9 points and 7 assists. Bryce Alford also looked less stagnant with his 18 point, 8 assist performance.

Nov 15, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cal Poly Mustangs forward Aleks Abrams (1) and UCLA Bruins forward Tony Parker (23) battle for a rebound during the first half of the game at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With improved guard play, UCLA was a lot stronger offensively especially with the Bruin bigs being the positive constant in both games.

Currently, Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh account for 35% of the Bruins scoring in this early season. Both combined for 31 points against Monmouth and upped the ante with 38 against Cal Poly.

Both had dominant performances in their second game as Parker had 16 points and 14 rebounds while Welsh had a team-high 22 points. Welsh in particular was hot from the field, going 10-for-12, especially from the baseline.

Next: Arizona's Sean Miller Takes A Shot At UCLA

To be successful against Pepperdine, UCLA needs to continue their play down low. The guards are improved and will take over games, but until they show that confidence (and chemistry), expect the big men to hold down the fort.