Date: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003
Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
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LAST GAME: Arizona won its 18th game and extended its winning streak over Washington State to 36. UCLA ended a nine game losing streak with a victory at Georgetown.
LAST MEETING: Arizona gave the Bruins their worst beating in Pauley Pavilion in an 87-52 thrashing. Five Wildcats scored in double-figures lead by Salim Stoudamire's 19 points.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona seemed to go through the motions, but posted a 75-62 win against Washington State in Pullman. UCLA beat Georgetown 71-70/
OVERVIEW: The Bruins have been playing better lately. Despite losing nine in a row before last weekend's win, UCLA has been in a position to win their last four games. Prior to the one point win in DC, the Bruins lost to Oregon by five, Oregon State by four and at USC by a single point.
"If you look at their last few games against the Oregon schools, USC and Georgetown, they have played very well," Lute Olson said. "They were really struggling early, I think all the negative things they were reading and hearing really affected them. At this point, I think it's been a gathering point for them. It's getting them closer together as a team. I think they've circled the wagons, they're reacting like that. We know they have some very capable players."
Steve Lavin has shortened his bench and has settled on using an eight-man rotation. Ryan Hollins has seen his playing time increase and could very well be in the starting line-up against the Cats.
"He (Hollins) played really well against Georgetown and that may have been a case where they felt they needed a bigger guy against a big guy from Georgetown as opposed to having (T.J.) Cummings or (Andre) Patterson guard the big guy," Olson said. "He played really well, he hit the boards well and defended well. It gives them a true center, whereas before they were playing with forwards and guards."
Arizona has been playing down to the level of their competition but has managed to keep winning. The Wildcats are on top of the polls despite not playing anywhere near their potential. The Cats are still juggling line-ups and trying to build consistency.
"The primary concerns that we still have are that we need to take better care of the ball and we need to rebound the ball more consistently," said Olson. "Even though we've outrebounded our opponents 16 out of 20 times, we haven't been as dominating as we need to be if we're going to get where we want to get. The other thing is that we really should be shooting the ball a lot better than what we are shooting. A lot of that has to do with being patient enough for the good shot to present itself."
PG- Jason Gardner vs Cedric Bozeman
Finally in this matchup Bozeman is on the upswing. Bozeman comes off a good game against Georgetown in which he hit two clutch free throws with :04 left to win the game. This after shooting 48% from the line for the season. Bozeman is still nothing to brag about, but at least there is something positive for him and UCLA in their nightmare season. Gardner is still putting up good numbers but didn't play great in Washington. He is shooting 34.5% from three-point land, which is lower than his sophomore and junior seasons. Gardner is still playing on a very high level and Bozeman will have his hands full defending him. But Bruin fans hope the Georgetown game might propel Bozeman into playing the way people thought he would when he came out of high school. Even with Bozeman's improved play of late, he's still not a great point guard. Ryan Walcott will log plenty of time at the point for the Bruins.
SG- Salim Stoudamire vs Dijon Thompson
Stoudamire has really proven how important he is to this team. He is the one consistent outside shooter the team has and he needs to get more touches. After suffering an early season ankle spain that limited to time, Stoudamire finally looks like he is close to 100% and his shot is becoming lethal. Thompson, who often comes off the bench, is tall and long and could give Stoudamire problems. Thompson is averaging 14.3 points per game and is shooting 52% from the floor. With better coaching he could be a big time player now. He is a guy the Wildcats really need to make sure doesn't have a big game. Ray Young had been the starter for much of the season and will see plenty of time against the Cats. Expect Hassan Adams to see a lot of time for the Cats, especially against his hometown Bruins. If Thompson can't contain Stoudamire, it could be a long day for UCLA.
SF- Luke Walton vs Jason Kapono
Walton's struggles this season can be directly linked to injuries that may be worse than anyone first believed. Walton is still a great passer but does not maneuver as well, affecting his drives and post moves down on the blocks that made him so successful last year. Kapono is still a very good player, but is Lavin's biggest waste of talent. Kapono is only shooting 39% from 3-point range this season and is a big disappointment. Kapono is still a dangerous shooter and Arizona can't leave him open, but he was completely non-existent against Arizona at Pauley earlier in the year. When the Cats put Andre Iguodala on Kapono could be in for a real long night. Walton could slide to the four to allow Iguodala and Hassan Adams more time to harass Kapono.
PF- Rick Anderson vs Andre Patterson
Anderson has once again come under fire for his seemingly uninspired play and lack of results. Anderson has had some trouble the past couple of games and has been a liability on defense. When Anderson is playing aggressively and smart, he is the Cats best offensive rebounder and a solid scorer. Patterson has had a down year which started with a suspension and continued with a minor injury. Patterson has quickness that could be a problem for the slow-footed Anderson, but Patterson isn't a consistent offensive threat. Anderson had a good game last time against UCLA, but he needs to stay focused and aggressive. Look for Walton to slide down to the four at times, and Dennis Latimore could also get significant action at this spot if Anderson continues to falter.
C- Channing Frye vs Ryan Hollins/TJ Cummings
Frye has come on strong of late and has been one the Cats top performers. He has been getting the majority of minutes at the center position and he's responded with great post play. Fyre's only problem has been foul trouble which comes from being overzealous on shot block attempts. Hollins has seen his minutes increase and had a fantastic game against Georgetown. Cummings played very well against Arizona last time and could get the nod again against the Cats. Cummings shoots very well from the line and has good range for a big man. With his jump hook , Frye can be very difficult to guard, so expected him to continue to log a lot of minutes. Both Isaiah Fox and Latimore have seen their minutes diminish with Frye coming on. ADVANTAGE: Frye
OUTLOOK: Arizona is coming off a tough weekend in Washington, but playing at home should be very a good tonic for this team. UCLA has played poorly this season and could have trouble with the Wildcats again the second time around. Olson could unleash the press and hound Bozeman who is prone to making ill advised passes under pressure. Arizona needs to get off to a quick start and cruise in this game. UCLA is playing better, but just doesn't seem to be in Arizona's class. The Wildcats need a big pick-me-up game heading into the stretch run and this could very well be it.
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