UCLA Preview

The Arizona State Sun Devils head to Westwood on Thursday to take on the #3 UCLA Bruins. Arizona State (6-11, 0-6) comes into the matchup riding a seven-game losing streak, dropping two winnable games against the Oregon schools at home last weekend. UCLA (15-1, 4-1) is fresh off a dramatic win at arch-rival USC.

After appearing in the national championship game a year ago, the Bruins naturally came into this season with high expectations. Thus far it's hard to argue that they haven't lived up to the pre-season accolades. UCLA has been dominant all season long and are a likely top-seed for the NCAA tournament. Ben Howland's squad is one of the deepest ones in the Pac-10, as well as being one of the biggest and fastest teams. Simply said, UCLA is a heavy favorite to make it back to the national championship game.

Arizona State and head coach Herb Sendek are still looking for their first conference victory and the team hasn't had a lot to smile about recently, aside from the overall improved play especially from freshman PG Derek Glasser and sophomore C Jeff Pendergraph. Nonetheless, the Sun Devils have proved more often than not, that they will not surrender easily no matter who the opponent is.

Head Coach – Ben Howland – (4th season, 244-135 Overall, 76-36 Pac-10)

Projected Starters

PG – Darren Collison – (13.1 PPG, 6.0 APG)
SG – Arron Afflalo – (16.2 PPG, 41% 3PT)
SF – Josh Shipp – (14.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
PF – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – (9.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG)
C – Lorenzo Mata – (7.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG)

Impact Reserves

SG – Michael Roll
PG – Russell Westbrook
PF – Alfred Aboya


On paper, UCLA vs. Arizona State is about as unfair a match-up as it gets. The Bruins are arguably the best team in the country, let alone in the conference while the Sun Devils are dead last in the Pac-10. However, ASU seems to be turning a new leaf, despite a disheartening loss at home against fellow cellar dweller Oregon State. The maroon and gold played well in both losses to the Oregon schools and pushed the Oregon Ducks to the brink before losing down the stretch. Glasser and Pendergraph have started to develop a special chemistry on the floor and the team has shown more heart and confidence in recent games. Will heart and confidence topple talent? Not likely. Yet the game will be closer than many expect. UCLA comes in with their three perimeter players all scoring in double figures and their two post players averaging over eight rebounds apiece.

The Bruins are a well-oiled machine and what makes them go is Pendergraph's high school teammate, PG Darren Collison. Collison is running the show by scoring and dishing out assists without a problem. Afflalo and Shipp are the top scoring options and their size to go along with their athleticism is a match-up nightmare that will give the Devils fits. Down low, Mbah a Moute and Mata are as solid as can be. Both are great defensive players and are very aggressive in the post.

When Coach Howland goes to his bench, he doesn't hope the reserves can hold on, since they are as good if not better than many Pac-10 starters. Sophomore sharpshooter Michael Roll and freshman guard Russell Westbrook have made it easy to overcome Shipp's lingering injury problems. When it comes to relieving the post players, Alfred Aboya and James Keefe are solid rebounders and defenders.


Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo are two of the finest players in the Pac-10. Michael Roll and Russell Westbrook would be starters on just about any other team. In other words, the Bruins are loaded at this position. The Sun Devils will counter with Glasser, a marvelous team leader who has taken his game to another level while scoring more and turning the ball over very infrequently. After Glasser, the other guards on the team have been struggling of late. Freshmen Jerren Shipp (playing against his brother Josh for the very first time on the collegiate level) and Christian Polk are going through a tough learning curve and look to bounce back this weekend. Antwi Atuahene has been a steady producer when he has been on the floor, but the Bruins are just too talented to let their guard play hurt them.

Huge Edge – UCLA


Josh Shipp has been dealing with a nagging injury the last couple weeks and his status is uncertain. If he is sidelined, the Sun Devils will have some room to breathe. Serge Angounou and Allen Morill are playing well on both ends of the floor and have been very physical on the defensive end. The Bruins have Shipp, who if he plays, is one of the toughest in the Pac-10 to defend and the energetic Mbah a Moute. If Shipp plays, the Bruins will have a big edge, but if he is hurt or plays just sparingly, the Sun Devils may have a chance to exploit a weakness if they play well.

Solid Edge – UCLA


Jeff Pendergraph is on fire. He is one of the finest players in the Pac-10 and if he was on a better team, he would be recognized as one of the better centers in the country. Mata has done very well in his first season as a starter and has been a force on the defensive end. Mata's offensive game on the other hand is still a work in progress. Most of his points come on putbacks and he is shooting a horrid 33% from the free throw line. If Pendergraph can stay out of foul trouble early, he will be able to get it done over Mata.

Slight Edge – Arizona State

Final Score – UCLA 77 Arizona State 67

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