UA/UCLA: The magic is missing

As an opponent, when you walk into the building that holds the most storied tradition in college basketball, fear is in your eyes. It is a similar feeling when you walk into Yankee Stadium, Lambeau Field, and Notre Dame Stadium. Instead of "what do we need to do to win? it is "How can we possibly win?" This is not going to be the feeling when Arizona walks into Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.

The Cats are usually a confident bunch, but they'll be even more confident when a 4-8 basketball team greets them. A slow start is no surprise to Bruin fans, as UCLA has started slowly the past few years, but no one in LA knows how to deal with this. I remember attending many UCLA-Stanford games when Stanford was Top 5 and UCLA was unranked and UCLA would walk into Maples Pavilion and come out with a win. Those teams are used to having a wealth of talent whereas this team comes in with  relatively little talent compared to UCLA teams of the past.

UCLA is in trouble due to poor recruiting in LA. The rising talent from Los Angeles is shunning a chance to play for UCLA. Just ask Hassan Adams, Casey Jacobsen, the Collins twins, Luke Walton, and Marcus Moore to name a few. The UCLA mystique is quickly dying and could take a major hit with a snub from the NCAA tournament, which is likely to happen.

Everyone expects Lavin to get fired, but he has found a way to survive every season. He does not develop talent very well and is a terrible X's and O's coach, but how can you fire the guy? He has been to five Sweet 16's in six years. Only Coach K can say that and how can someone be fired when he is compared to Coach K?

PG Jason Gardner vs Cedric Bozeman or Ryan Walcott

Bozeman is a huge question mark for this Bruin team. When he stepped on campus he was supposed to be a 6-7 point guard who could pass and drive and eventually learn to shoot. So far, he has not progressed and might have regressed during his time at UCLA. He still can't shoot and is looking very hesitant whenever he handles the ball. Now with his public bashing of the program, it appears that his head is not where it should be. Things have been so bad for Bozeman that Ryan Walcott has been starting as of late. Walcott scored all of one point against ASU and failed to dish out an assist.

Gardner is in a slump but he's still playing at a high level. His shot is not falling but he is doing little things to help Arizona win and has been very effective. Gardner's assists are up and he grabbed 10 boards against USC.

SG Salim Stoudamire vs Ray Young
This is a matchup that could prove to be important or could be a non-factor. Stoudamire is still recovering conditioning-wise from his ankle injury, but in the past few games he has been among the Cats' best scorers. He is the only consistent three-point threat from the perimeter and has been logging minutes at the point. Ray Young is definitely improved after redshirting last season, especially as a defender, but is still not a big threat to Arizona. He is one of the long line of talent players in the Lavin era to come in and not progress too much with their game. Look for Salim to hit a few three's and have the better of this match up.
ADVANTAGE: Stoudamire

SF- Luke Walton vs Jason Kapono
This is a very important matchup for Arizona, as Kapono is deadly from the outside. Arizona can't let him get open looks at the basket. When his shot is falling, Kapono can go off for 40 points as he has already done this year. Walton is starting to find his rhythm. He is still hobbled but is still very important to Arizona in the passing game. Walton should just continue to improve but his defense is very important in this game and he could log minutes in the post. Look for Andre Igoudala, the team's new defensive stopper, to guard Kapono for much of the game.

PF Rick Anderson vs Andre Patterson
Anderson has been struggling the past few games, but has been a key for the Cats all season. Anderson logged just 17 minutes against USC and did not attempt a three-pointer. Patterson is very athletic and could be a tough guard for Anderson. Anderson had confidence in the beginning of the season and you can tell it has taken a bit of a hit. Patterson could get the better of this matchup unless Anderson can start out hot and get his confidence up. If Rick can hit a few threes it would be big for Arizona.

C Channing Frye vs TJ Cummings
Just like last year, Frye is coming on strong in Pac-10 play and beginning to really hit his stride. Frye's baby hook shot is becoming a weapon and is tough to stop. Cummings and Frye are similar players, but Frye is much more polished. Cummings can step out and hit some jumpers, but fortunately for Arizona Frye can guard big men on the perimeter. Look for Frye to have the better of this matchup and with Cummings' athleticism. With UCLA using more athletic post players, expect Dennis Latimore to get more minutes than the less mobile Isaiah Fox.

This is UCLA's season; they are 4-8 right now and need this big win more than anything else. After this their only chance is to win the Pac-10 tournament. In the past UCLA has won games like this. But I really think this year is different. Pauley should be sold out, but how many of the fans will be rooting for UCLA? Arizona should win this rather easily as the Lavin watch will be in full swing this weekend.
Arizona 95-78

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