UCLA Preview

In case you missed it, the Arizona State Sun Devils snapped an 11-game Pac-10 losing streak and will look to begin a winning streak as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon when the Cougars of Washington State came to Tempe foaming at the mouth because the hapless Sun Devils were going to be without their second and third leading scorers but ended up going home with a loss when ASU's youthful squad started out scorching and held on to stave off Wazzu and get their first win in over a month.

The Devils were led by Trent Lockett's 20 point, 8 rebound effort while Chanse Creekmur scored a career-high 18 points starting in place of Kuksiks and Keala King dropped 10 points in his first double-digit effort since before Thanksgiving. Klay Thompson didn't get the start because of team rules violation but still went off for 28 points in the loss.

UCLA lost a wild one in Berkeley to settle for a split in the Bay Area. After trailing by 12 in the late going, Malcolm Lee hit a crazy three to force overtime but Cal eventually prevailed behind Jorge Gutierrez's 34 points. Lee had 19 points and Tyler Honeycutt scored 14 of his own.

Head Coach: Ben Howland vs. Herb Sendek

Projected Starters:

G – Lazeric Jones (10.2 PPG, 3.4 APG) vs. Jamelle McMillan (7.2 PPG, 3.8 APG)

G – Malcolm Lee (13.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (13.0 PPG, 39% 3PT)

G – Tyler Honeycutt (12.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG) vs. Trent Lockett (13.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG)

F – Reeves Nelson (13.6, 8.6 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (9.6 PPG, 39% 3PT)

F – Josh Smith (10.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG) vs. Kyle Cain (5.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG)

Backcourt

Lazeric Jones has a cool name and is a good point guard. His backcourt mates are some of the biggest swing players in the country with Lee and Honeycutt next to him. Lee and Honeycutt are two guys that can absolutely dominate this game and they will be a tough assignment for Abbott and Lockett to cover. Neither of them are deadly shooters so an off-night from these two could open the door for a Devils run. Jerime Anderson is the first guard off the bench while Tyler Lamb gets good minutes as well.

Jahii Carson still isn't here yet so Jamelle McMillan will continue to run the point for the Devils as Ty Abbott returns from injury and Trent Lockett complements him on the other wing. McMillan's role in this one will be to keep the game in check. UCLA is a streaky team and they ride the home crowd well so McMillan needs to stay even keeled. Abbott is back and he needs to stretch the defense with some early three's which will open up the lane for Lockett's penetration. The bench is getting better as Corey Hawkins and Keala King are getting more confident which in turn makes them more dangerous for opponents.

Edge – UCLA

Frontcourt

Reeves Nelson might be the meanest looking guy in the conference and his game is rock solid to boot as he puts up double-doubles on a consistent basis and Josh Smith, while not always the starter, is the guy who gets the most minutes in the paint after Nelson – is just as prone to putting up double-doubles too. Brendan Lane and Anthony Stover provide solid depth down low for the Bruins.

Rihards Kuksiks is back and that might actually be bad news as the newbies are really starting to assert themselves and Creekmur just might be the better option. Playing next to everyone's favorite Latvian will be Kyle Cain and he will get assistance down low from Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski. With these guys, it's more of a collective effort and going with the hot hand so the best guy will see the most minutes.

Edge – UCLA

X-Factor

Momentum. The Baby Devils beat a good team and they have the confidence in their favor as they look to creep out of the cellar. UCLA is a good team but they coming off a tough loss and are susceptible to the upset if they aren't focused and ASU is more than capable of knocking them off.

Who Will Win and Why

I'd love to sit here and say ASU is going to get another W and if this game was in Tempe, I'd go for it but UCLA is good at home and has too many weapons and too much veteran leadership with Lee, Nelson, and Honeycutt to let a team like ASU crush their tournament seeding chances.

Final Score – UCLA 72 ASU 66


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