UCLA got one win for the NCAA Tournament resume in its last game by beating a good Missouri team in a 97-94 offensive sprint. But now it is time for the marathon, the PAC 12 regular season beginning tonight with Cal at 8:06 pm on the Fox Sports Network . UCLA starts the marathon running downhill with a wind behind their backs with 7 of its first 11 games at home and certain cellar dweller Utah on the road. UCLA even gets a break in its first game against Cal because as Cal Coach Mike Montgomery says Cal is "Hurting."
Swingman Ricky Kreklow is questionable with a lingering foot injury, as is point guard Brandon Smith after sustaining a concussion against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 22. Sophomore forward Christian Behrens, whose playing time gradually had increased, was lost for the season with a knee injury. And starting forward Richard Solomon has a mild concussion.
The why we will win but why there are concerns going forward are below. The latter need to improve if we are going to win the PAC 12 title.
- ESPN player of the week Shabazz Muhammad has scored over 20 points a game in the last four games BUT has only averaged one defense rebound a game in the same period.
- UCLA is leading the PAC 12 in shooting percentage BUT is next to last in field goal percentage defense.
- UCLA ranks 13th in the nation in points per game and fourth in assists BUT its last three opponents have shot 48, 47, and 48% against UCLA.