UCLA Basketball: Oakland Golden Grizzlies Preview

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The soft early schedule rolls on. Bruins need to take better advantage of it.

Tonight at Old Pauley Under Glass, the Horizon League's Oakland Golden Grizzlies will square off against the UCLA Bruins and once again, the Bruins will face an opponent that has had to cross the entire country to get here. Four days ago, Oakland was getting waxed by UNC at Chapel Hill, and after giving up 58 points in the first half and being down 37, they managed to claw their way back to a "respectable" 23 point loss in the second half. I point all this out not entirely to highlight the obvious gulf in talent between those two teams, but to show that UCLA's struggle against Drexel on Friday is not the way a team with higher aspirations handles their business. There are nine games remaining before the national date with Duke, and these are the types of games where the Bruins must, like the Tar Heels, make their talent gap apparent.

Oakland will rely on a pair of guards to do the heavy lifting in the scoring column. Travis Bader and Duke Mondy led the team against UNC with 18 and 14 points respectively. Although neither shot well from the field, neither did the rest of the team. The eye popping stat is that out of 55 shots taken by the Golden Grizzlies, 25 of them came from behind the arc, and 11 of those rolled off of Bader's fingertips. A high percentage of three point shots taken isn't all that unusual for a team that recognizes themselves to be outmanned, but having nearly half of your shot attempts be threes is something else entirely. These players are obviously not gunshy, and TRA had better be ready to quickly switch out of that zone (and keep the butt of his defensive liability of a son glued to the bench) that we deployed with some effectiveness if Oakland actually does start to heat up from distance.

Down low, it would seem that this is a matchup made for our depleted frontline. Though center Corey Petros chipped in 9 points against UNC, he managed a Wear-like 3 rebounds. Their starting forward Tommie McCune fouled out of the game with 5 points and 3 boards. Either UNC is a great rebounding team (a distinct possibility) or this is a game for Tony Parker and David Wear to pad their rebounding totals.

Between the Bruins and the Golden Grizzlies, the Bruins are the bigger bears, and we expect the score and the flow of the game to reflect that. Of course, this was also true of Drexel, so we will see how TRA adjusts from his anemic debut performance.

Tipoff is at 6 PM and coverage will be provided by the Pac 12 Network.

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