UCLA vs. Stanford basketball preview: Keys to victory for the Bruins

Stanford is coming off of a huge win against Arizona after losing by only three to Arizona State and the Bruins split their two road games last week to begin Pac-12 conference play.
Stanford v UCLA
Stanford v UCLA / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

6-6. Wednesday, Jan 3. . 9 PM EST. 517. ESPN 2. UCLA vs. Stanford. 6-7. 518

What does UCLA need to do to defeat Stanford to improve to 2-1 in confence play? Let's take a look at some key things the Bruins need to do to get the victory.

UCLA needs to exploit Stanford's weaknesses

On offense, the UCLA coaching staff needs to break down Stanford's defensive tendencies and identify any potential vulnerabilities in order to be able to score more points than they have been of late. For example, how are the Bruins able to get open threes? How can UCLA feed the post and get some baskets in the paint? UCLA on offense needs to attack any weaknesses relentlessly that the Cardinals have on defense, to get their offense going, which has struggled for the most part all season to score 75 or more points.

Finally, UCLA needs to look for any glaring mismatches in the Cardinals lineup and exploit them in order to generate much-needed points. UCLA does have a size advantage overall with the exception of the Cardinals' big man Maxime Raynaud, so the Bruins need to pound the ball inside, especially if their three-pointers are not falling. UCLA statistically does not have better shooters than Stanford, so the Bruins need to drive the lane and look for points in the paint.

The Bruins need to control the tempo of the game and not allow Stanford to do to them like what the Cardinals did to Arizona.

The Bruins need to get look to push the ball and get fast break opportunities. UCLA boasts a talented and athletic backcourt and if the outside shots are not falling like what happened against Oregon, the Bruins need to push the ball and attack the paint. UCLA needs to utilize its speed to push the tempo and get easy transition baskets. If the Bruins can accomplish this task, they can demoralize Stanford and force them to play out of their comfort zone.

UCLA needs to be on offense to be able to score through half-court execution, limit turnovers, and avoid forcing outside contested shots. When running and pushing to the ball upcourt isn't available, The Bruins need to do a better job of being patient and disciplined in the half-court execution on the offensive end.

UCLA needs to minimize turnovers and capitalize on Stanford's mistakes.

The Bruins need to take care of the ball on offense. Every turnover gives Stanford an easy scoring opportunity and UCLA can not allow that to happen or the Cardinals will put up a lot of points like they did in their last game against Arizona. It is obvious but the Bruins really need to protect the ball, especially against Stanford's defense. UCLA committed 16 turnovers in their loss to Oregon and they need to limit their turnovers to single digits against the Cardinals.

The Bruins need to hustle for loose balls and rebounds, especially if their three-point shots are not falling. Second-chance points can be the difference in a close game against an improved Stanford team of late. UCLA big men and even their guards need to crash the boards hard and fight for every possession.

UCLA also needs to make Stanford pay for their mistakes to generate offense in this game because the Bruins can not rely on making a ton of threes. UCLA needs to turn Stanford's turnovers into easy baskets on the other end as mentioned earlier. This can quickly swing the momentum of the game and give UCLA a much-needed victory on their home court. Having home-court advantage should give the Bruins a win but with the game being played at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA really needs to use the energy of the crowd to their advantage.

Prediction: UCLA 76 Stanford 72

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