There is a reason why Sean Miller mentioned Larry Drew so many times when asked after the win over Colorado. It is because he has completely controlled the first two meetings this season and has really been the difference between the two teams. In the last meeting, drew finished with 14 points and 9 assists and Lyons finished with 13 points and five turnovers on poor shooting. Sean Miller has a choice to make and that is whether or not he wants to try to put Nick Johnson on Drew or if he trusts Lyons the third time around. Drew is obviously the better player here and the biggest key to this game may be whether or not Arizona can slow him down.
SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, So.) vs. Jordan Adams (6-5, 220, Fr.)
Adams has been a little inconsistent as of late, but his skill set and impact on the game are still there. Johnson has picked a perfect time to start playing his best basketball of the season, but the two are still pretty evenly matched. Johnson is more likely to contain Adams than vice versa and if he can play like he has in the past few games, Arizona should have the advantage here. Still, Adams is capable of scoring in bunches and is not a bad defender himself. It's possible that Johnson will have a bigger impact on the game, but we would be surprised if the final stat lines were not similar.
SF: Solomon Hill (6-7, 220, Sr.) vs. Shabazz Muhammad (6-6, 225, Fr.)
Muhammad has gotten the better of Hill in the first two meetings, although much of that has to do with scoring rather than the other aspects of the game. Hill's biggest challenge will be making it difficult for Muhammad, which he was able to do in the second meeting at the UCLA forward shot 6-15 from the field. The key here, however, is that if Hill is going to cause Muhammad to struggle, he has to be able to score himself. Hill took too many three-pointers against Colorado, but was extremely active on defense and had a solid game. Like the other matchups, this one is likely going to come down to defense.
PF: Kevin Parrom (6-6, 220, Sr.) vs. Kyle Anderson (6-9, 235, Fr.)
Parrom's played pretty well in the last meeting, but Anderson went off, scoring 17 points with 7 rebounds. If Parrom is going to have any chance of slowing down Anderson, it has to start on the perimeter. He is just a much better player when his jumpers are falling and the reality of his game is that he is not a great shooter. If Parrom can limit his drives to the basket and ability to make plays, Arizona will be happy with what he provides. However, if he comes out defensively like he did in the past meeting, it is going to be extremely difficult for Arizona to win this game.
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 255, Fr.) vs. Travis Wear (6-10, 230, Jr.)
Tarczewski played well in the last meeting, as he finished with 10 rebounds and gave the Bruins fits inside. This is an intriguing matchup because both players can't guard the other. Tarczewski is going to have difficulty on the pick and pop plays and Wear has no chance in the post. The smart thing to do would be to feed Tarczewski early and try to get him going, which could pay off in not only baskets, but fouls as well. Wear has not been shooting as well as he was earlier in the season, but his scoring advantage is what is giving him the leg up here. Still, if Tarczewski can get involved early, it would not surprise us to see this even or closer to being in Arizona's favor.
Bench: Now that Jordin Mayes is playing well, Arizona is in very good shape here. David Wear has had some success against Arizona, but there is not a ton beyond that. However, Grant Jerrett has been playing some of his best basketball of the season and matches up well with the Bruins. This is a good opportunity for Arizona to use its depth, especially after UCLA's tough opening game.
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Ben Howland
For a guy that is criticized plenty, Howland still coaches the team that won the regular season conference crown. He has had the Bruins well prepared in both meetings this season and seems to know Arizona well. It is easier when your team matches up better, but Howland deserves credit. We don't see this one being decided by coaching, but there should be plenty of adjustments made by both teams.
Prediction: This is a very difficult game to pick because for some reason, Arizona just does not match up well with UCLA. The biggest issue is that Lyons can't guard Drew or at least has not been able to in the first meeting. If Arizona chooses to put Johnson on Drew, it creates a major disadvantage with Jordan Adams. Basically, Lyons is likely going to have to figure out a way to slow Drew down. My biggest thought here is that it is difficult to beat a quality team three times in one season and Arizona is definitely a quality squad. UCLA won't be able to take off a half like it did against ASU and the Bruins are going to actually have to match Arizona's energy, rather than the other way around.
Arizona 76, UCLA 75