UCLA Basketball vs Gonzaga: It Is Time To Attack


The UCLA Basketball team will be heading to Spokane, Washington today to take on the the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second part of a home-and-home series.

Last season, the Bruins fought back in the second half of a close loss to Gonzaga as UCLA dropped their only game at Pauley Pavilion. This year, the Bruins look to avenge their loss, though it will be tough as the Bruins have not been so great on the road.

Still, considering what has been happening with both squads lately, this is the perfect time for UCLA to attack.

Front Court Battle

There will be a war under the basket.

Let us first talk about Gonzaga. They have a great front court that could arguably be the best in the west. The only thing is that they are down a man as Przemek Karnowski has been out with back spasms, leaving Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis as the only reliable oprions under the basket.

Nov 15, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins center Thomas Welsh (40) hangs on the rim after a dunk in the second half of the game against the Cal Poly Mustangs at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA won 88-81. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Wiltjer and Sabonis are the Bulldog’s leading scorers that are averaging 20.6 and 14.4 ppg, respectively. They are also the leading rebounders with Sabonis grabbing 10.4 and Wiltjer getting 7.4.

Needless to say, they are the most productive players on the team and could out-match UCLA’s big men of Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker.

Despite being a fantastic tandem against Kentucky, Parker and Welsh could have a lot more on their hands with Wiltjer and Sabonis based on the Gonzaga duo’s experience together.

Here is the thing though, Parker and Welsh are starting to become a threat of their own. Currently, these two Bruins have combined for 9 double-doubles this season, which is second most in the nation.

Welsh in particular has become a very potent low-post threat that has a killer baseline jumper. As for Parker, he is the only Bruin averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

Back Court Comparison

More from Go Joe Bruin

In the last three games, the Bruins have been a very balanced team, especially on offense. The triple-guard action of Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton having been sharing point guard duties. Holiday, as of late, has been the main distributor which is freeing up Alford and Hamilton to work around the play.

That seems to be working for them as they are not only leading the Pac-12 in assists per game (16.1) but are coming in at 4th in the conference with 80.4 ppg.

Their counterparts from Gonzaga, Kyle Dranginis and Josh Perkins, are the two main distributors, but only Perkins appears to be a scoring threat. With Sabonis and Wiltjer getting the majority of the looks, the Bulldog backcourt does not seem to be as effective as it has been in recent years.

Keys to The Game For UCLA Basketball

  • Attack, attack, attack! The Bruins have been doing a great job spreading the wealth and getting everyone involved. They need to continue that against Gonzaga and grind them down. The Bulldogs are limping a bit and UCLA needs to pounce on them offensively as well as on…
  • Defense. The Bruins seemed to find some against Kentucky. They need to limit Gonzaga’s guards to outside shooting and pressure Sabonis and Wiltjer under the basket. If the Bruins can force bad shots and Bulldog fouls, that will put them in great position for an upset.
  • Be patient. One thing that the Bruins have limited themselves to is turnovers and quick, forced shots. They have several talented players and have some effect talent off the bench, so they need to be quick, but not hurry. If they can control the pace of the game, then they will be in very good shape.

UCLA Basketball vs. Gonzaga Prediction

Despite aging not such a great road record under Head Coach Steve Alford, this could be a turning point for UCLA Basketball. With the momentum they have been gathering the last few games, I am going to go with the upset: UCLA 68 – Gonzaga 62

Next: UCLA Basketball - Good At Pauley, Not So Much On The Road

The game will be televised on ESPN 2at 7 p.m. PT. Gonzaga is an 8 point favorite.

Go Bruins!