UCLA Preview

Things clearly aren't going well in Tempe when the basketball team is in last place and that isn't nearly as bad as the football team's recruiting woes. Hopefully things will start turning around for both this Saturday when the Arizona State Sun Devils will host the UCLA Bruins.

If this was the first three years of the Mike Stoops era, we could be looking at the last two losses as moral victories but the tough loss in Seattle was followed by an even tougher 65-63 loss at home to USC in which Ty Abbott missed a three at the buzzer that could have won it. Rihards Kuksiks awoke from his slumber to score 22 points for the Devils. Nikola Vucevic continued the trend of big men having career days against ASU with 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans.

UCLA comes in to Tempe after losing to Arizona 85-74. Reeves Nelson had 24 and 11 going up against Derrick Williams who had 24 and 5 of his own.

Head Coach: Ben Howland vs. Herb Sendek

Projected Starters:

G - Lazeric Jones vs. Jamelle McMillan

G - Malcolm Lee vs. Ty Abbott

G - Tyler Honeycutt vs. Trent Lockett

F - Reeves Nelson vs. Rihards Kuksiks

F - Anthony Stover vs. Ruslan Pateev

Backcourt

Lazeric Jones is a strong distributor while Honeycutt and Lee are both big guards who cause matchup problems for just about any backcourt. Tyler Lamb and Jerime Anderson will spell the starters for the Bruins.

Even though this season has been disastrous thus far; Ty Abbott is seemingly taking his game to the next level. He remains a shoot-first, drive-second player but his inside-out skills have blossomed nicely. McMillan needs to start making more of an impact with the ball in his hands. Trent Lockett is a tenacious driver but his game will become lethal with an outside shot. Off the bench will be the usual suspects and don't look now, but Keala King has started looking like he can be a difference maker.

Edge – ASU

Frontcourt

Reeves Nelson is a very good player who will likely have a big game against the Devils while Anthony Stover and Josh Smith will really make life difficult for ASU down low. Brendan Lane joins Smith off the pine.

Softer than Gionni Paul's commitment, the Sun Devils interior defense makes every game like Christmas for opposing bigs. I'm not a coach but seeing two big men on the floor at once will probably stop the bleeding a little. Having Cain or Bachynski alongside Pateev would be nice to see. While Kuksiks and Felix playing the flex position can cause defenses problems, the defensive liability is too costly.

Edge – UCLA

X-Factor

Free Throws. The Sun Devils have attempted less free throws than three PAC-10 teams have made. To make matters worse, ASU is converting just 64 percent of their charity stripe shots. That, my friends, is how you lose seven of your first eight conference tilts. Something needs to change.

Who Will Win and Why

It's time for a shift in momentum. This Sun Devil team wasn't likely to win the PAC-10 title but they certainly aren't the worst team. A tough win is in store for ASU as Reeves Nelson will get his but every other Bruin will struggle.

Final Score - ASU 67 UCLA 64


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