The Lumberjacks come to Pauley Pavilion to face a UCLA team that looks to build on its momentum from the Portland game. Northern Arizona, though, shouldn't put up much resistance...
UCLA looks to continue its winning ways tonight when they face Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks were picked to finish fifth in the Big Sky and UCLA comes into the game as a twenty-point favorite. They're currently 5-2, while on the win side of the ledger they list Southern Utah and Northeastern, and in the loss colum, a 35-point blowout against #1-ranked Arizona.
This game might be more competitive than the Long Beach St. and Portland games, though, if Northern Arizona is able to hit open shots. So far, UCLA hasn't shown the ability to defend well on the perimeter and they've been fortunate that neither Long Beach St. or Portland were able to make them pay for that deficiency.
The one area that UCLA has dominated in the last couple games has been on the boards. UCLA got multiple second chances against the 49ers and Pilots, and tonight should continue to get more opportunities for offensive rebounds. Ryan McDade and Aaron Bond are the only two players with any size that play for Northern Arizona and they're both 6-7. McDade is the best player for the Lumberjacks, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game.
Again, the Lumberjacks' best hope to stay in the game will probably come from the perimeter. Northern Arizona shoots 41% on three-pointers. Kelly Golob, a 6-5 freshman guard, leads the Lumberjacks from the perimeter, having made 24 of 48 attempts beyond the three-point stripe. 6-1 sophomore guard Kyle Feurbach is another threat, having made 38% of his threes this year.
One weapon Northern Arizona won't have is Chris Ferguson, a 6-2 senior guard from Irvine, who was the third leading scorer for the Lumberjacks after three games this year. Ferguson was injured in the game against Arizona and he won't play in tonight's game.
UCLA has played much better of late. They're sharing the ball well and doing a better job of getting good shots in the half-court sets. UCLA may not have the athleticism of years past, but they do have guys who can score. Kapono, Young, Thompson and Crispin give UCLA multiple weapons from the perimeter. If the Bruins can ever get some semblance of an inside game, they'll be a tough match-up at the offensive end. Defensively, they still need to show a great deal of improvement to compete in the Pac-10.
Northern Arizona might make this a somewhat competitive game, but if UCLA pounds the glass, and stays patient in their half-court offense, the Bruins should still win by double digits.
UCLA 86 Northern Arizona 67.