UCLA (13-10, 4-6) at #17 Arizona (19-5, 7-4)
When: Friday, February 12th 2016
Where: McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Arizona looks to continue their climb up the Pac-12 standings with a Friday night duel with the UCLA Bruins. The Wildcats stumbled to a 1-2 conference start, but have won six of their last eight to pull within striking distance of Oregon after the Ducks fell to California on Thursday night. Arizona, who is just a game and a half behind the Ducks, are led by senior Ryan Anderson. He has reached double figures in points and rebounds in the last four games, most recently a 22-point, 15-rebound performance in a 77-72 victory Saturday at Washington. Anderson (16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds) had 15 points and 15 rebounds in last month’s 87-84 loss at UCLA. He had 31 points and 12 rebounds last week against Washington State, becoming the first Arizona player to record at least 30 points and 10 rebounds since Derrick Williams against Duke in the Sweet 16 of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Arizona welcomed the return of guard Allonzo Trier last week against Washington after missing seven games due to a broken bone in his hand. The freshman scored 7 points off the bench in 16 minutes, but figures to get more minutes against UCLA. Arizona will get Saturday off before returning to the court on Sunday to face USC.
UCLA has had a very odd season beating Arizona, UNLV, Kentucky, and Gonzaga, but are just 4-6 in Pac-12 play. Normally a 13-10 record wouldn’t warrant much of a look by the selection committee, but the strong wins have UCLA as one the First Four Out according to ESPN’s bracket expert Joe Lunardi. Tony Parker (13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds) had 14 points and 12 rebounds against Arizona the first time around, but 7-foot sophomore Thomas Welsh (12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds) was held to six points and six rebounds. The inconsistent Bryce Alford had one of his better games against Arizona scoring 25 points and hitting the game-winning three at the buzzer. Alford leads the Bruins in scoring (16.7), but has been held below his average in four of the seven games since playing Arizona including a poor 3-for-13 effort in UCLA’s 80-61 loss at USC last Thursday. The Bruins were swept by USC for the first time since the 2009-10 season and have lost four of their last six overall. Guard Isaac Hamilton tries to become the first Bruin to reach double figures in scoring in 20 straight games since Kevin Love reached that mark in all 39 games during his freshman season in 2007-08.
This is a revenge game for Arizona and they’re getting UCLA at the right time. The Bruins are struggling and Arizona is on a roll. I think Arizona handles UCLA tonight by double-digits.
Pick: Arizona -11.5