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Number 1 in Action Tomorrow Night

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Let's go with another hoops post. Why not? The number 1 team in America (I will never get tired of writing that) is in action tomorrow night. Diane left us with this teaser at the end of her Oakland 'game report':

Most of the fans had trudged out of Pauley when the public address announcer exhorted those left to come back Tuesday for "our next exciting home game." That would be against Sam Houston State. Howland said the Bearkats employ the Princeton offense. Nice and slow.
Uh ... I am not sure whether Coach Howland might have said to Diane that the Bearkats use a "Princeton" style offense (perhaps Coach Howland was referring to Bearkats' offensive sets, not their offensive pace?), but if Diane did the slightest bit of research, she'd know that they don't appear to be a team that plays "nice and slow."

The 6-4 Bearkats are actually a pretty decent team. At least, at this point in time, they are leading the West division of "Southland" conference. SHS is averaging a pretty hefty 77.5 points a game (while giving up 67.6 points a game), which is not exactly "nice and slow". They are coming off a tough OT loss against UCI. Their other 3 losses came against a decent (7-1) Southern Miss. squad (86-94), and two Big-12 teams [Oklahoma State (67-86) and Texas Tech (64-79)].

Here is CBS Sportsline:
At 77.6 points per game, Sam Houston State is one of the top-scoring teams in the SLC, but has been dogged all year with weak late-game performances. If Bob Marlin can manage to spread out the lineup to an eight or nine man rotation, the Bearkats shouldn't continue to run out of gas like they have many times this year.
Leading the `Kats in scoring is junior forward Ryan Bright, who is averaging 16.0 points a game. Sportsline's scouting report mentions senior Jejuan Blair and Aaron Wade as the other key guys, who happen to be 2nd and 3rd in scoring, respectively, with 13.7 and 11.0 points per game.

It will be interesting to see if the `Kats, like recent Bruin opponents, come into this game with a concerted strategy focused on slowing down the game. Let's hope the Bruins will not overlook the Bearcats, looking ahead to this weekend's big game against Michigan. Reading from AA's comments, it sounds like at least the team's emotional leader is aware how they have to be ready for opponent's adrenaline, who come in all fired up to play the number 1 team in the nation:
UCLA junior guard Arron Afflalo gave his perspective on warding off teams looking to knock off No.1.

"We realize it gives opponents an incentive to play hard against us," Afflalo said.  We have to find a way to fight off an opponent's adrenaline at the start of the game, and once we get through the first part of the game ourselves we tend to settle down.
I think the team will come out more focused tomorrow. Hopefully, they have shaken off all the finals after-effects and have had themselves a few great practices. If they come out with their prototype defensive intensity from the get go, they should have no problem wearing down this team.  But, they can't come in expecting a cake walk, because BearKats are actually a pretty decent team, which, as mentioned above, is coming in with a decent record and losses against quality opponents.

Again, one thing that will help our players is good crowd support. Once again, we appeal to all of our students who live in Southern California, and are not too far from Pauley, to get their a$$es to Pauley. Go to this game. It shouldn't be that hard to get student tickets. And given the fact that now finals are over and done with, and you all have no excuses for not showing up at this game in huge numbers. We know there will be a huge crowd for the Wolverines this Saturday, but let's help the team get ready for Saturday by helping them set the right tone tomorrow night.

It should be exciting action for anyone who loves UCLA basketball or likes watching a sound, fundamental well-coached elite college basketball team with great athletes, marching on to yet another victory. Unless, of course, you happen to be some bitter, hater traditional sports writer for some local newspaper, who, for some inexplicable reason, loathes your job of writing about a great game, you should show up for fun Ben Ball action at Pauley.

More on this game tomorrow.