UCLA Preview

After loosing its first two home games of the season, the Arizona State Sun Devils will head to Southern California. The Sun Devils will first take on the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion. ASU is on a tough three game loosing streak and the schedule will not be getting any easier in this deep Pac-10 conference.

player of the week. After dealing with his cell phone number being given out to students, Kevin Love's return home ended up being a sweet one. In the two victories against the Oregon schools he averaged 21 PPG and 19.5 RPG. This marks the third time that he has won this award this season. Not only is he putting up monster numbers, as Darren Collison put up a career high 33 points in a 85-62 victory over Oregon State.

The Sun Devils are coming off a tough 56-55 loss against Washington State, which reminded a lot of us of last season's heartbreak. During this three-game slide, the Devils have had a difficult time shooting the three-pointer and it continued on Saturday. They went just 2-14 (both made by Ty Abbott) from beyond the arc, while the Cougars were 10-22 from there. ASU was lead by hobbled freshman James Harden with 25 points.

Head Coach Ben Howland

Projected Starters

PG – Darren Collison (14.6 PPG, 3.9 APG)
SG – Josh Shipp (14.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG)
F – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (9.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG)
F – Alfred Aboya (3.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG)
C – Kevin Love (17.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Russell Westbrook
F – Lorenzo Mata-Real

Overview

UCLA may not just be the best team in the Pac-10, but perhaps the best in the country. The Bruins are two home losses away from being perfect on the season, with one being a two point loss to Texas early in the season. As many of you might recall from his days at NAU, Ben Howland coached teams have been traditionally known for their defense. Things have not changed while at UCLA, with the Bruins holding their opponents to 58.1 PPG, 11th best in the NCAA. With a mix of their great defense and their ability to score, this team has the ability to be UCLA's 101st champion.

Guards

Potentially the best guard combo in the country is Josh Shipp and Darren Collison. A former high school teammate of ASU's Jeff Pendergraph, Darren Collison has begun to live up to his potential. He has all the tools necessary for the next level and now has developed a nice stroke from the outside. Brother of Jerren Shipp, Josh Shipp has stepped up in the absence of Aaron Afflalo and become the team leader. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the court and is not afraid to shoot the ball. He has taken more three-pointers than two's this season and could take present a major challenge to ASU's zone defense.

Jamelle McMillan and Ty Abbot do not have the experience or scoring ability to keep up with these two guards. As they have done all year, they need to be smart with the ball and keep the turnovers to a minimum. Ty Abbot has continued to struggle from outside and will need to rediscover his consistent shooting touch for the Devils to have a chance in this game.

Solid Edge – UCLA

Forwards

Size, size, size. Again the Sun Devils will be confronted with a more physical team than themselves. Both Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya sat out last weekend are questionable for Thursday's game. However, if they play, ASU can be in trouble. Both are not big scoring threats, but with their size mismatch, they can quickly become scorers for the Bruins. It does not get any easier when they bring Mata-Real, last year's starter, off the bench. He is another physical presence that will pound the offensive glass.

Jerren Shipp and James Harden will have their hands full, but both should be able to take advantage on the offensive end, using their speed and agility. Shipp has struggled from the field and will need to put more points on the board to give the Devils a third scorer.

Slight Edge – Arizona State

Centers

Jeff Pendergraph was glad to see the Washington schools leave Arizona after they pounded him around down low and kept him in check. Unfortunately, it is not going to get any easier when he goes up against Kevin Love. Love is an animal down low and has the ability to put up big numbers against ASU. Pendergraph will need to stay out of foul trouble in order to try and keep up with Love.

Edge – UCLA

Final Score – UCLA 70 Arizona State 61


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