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Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

So yeah there is a big game at Pauley tonight. Unlike his counterpart from the LA Times, DN’s Brian Dohn focuses his UCLA report on tonight’s opponent: Cal Bears. Dohn writes about the defensive matchup between Ubaka and AA, which played the key factor in Bruin’s win up in Berkeley. He is going to fired up to get his revenge on AA and our Bruins. Coach Howland and AA are make sure to let everyone know how much respect they have for Ubaka’s game, who also BTW dropped 18 points on the Bruins when the Bears won at Pauley last year. Here is Dohn.

"I'm sure he's looking forward to it," Afflalo said. "I'll guard him and try to get the same result, but he's a competitive player and I'm sure he's more upset about the loss than his own personal performance."

Ubaka, who is averaging 14points per game, was 0 for 8 against the Bruins. […]

"I have great respect for Ubaka," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "He killed us here a year ago. He had 18 here a year ago. He was sick when we played them up there, and did not play well. I know he'll want to come back and really take it at us."
Should be fun to keep a close eye on those two during tonight’s game. Dohn also has some interesting notes on AA2. AA2 has been really coming along in the last few games:
In UCLA's first 15 games, Aboya averaged 13.5 minutes, 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. In the Bruins' past 11games, Aboya is playing 21.3 minutes, scoring 4.5 points and grabbing six rebounds.

"His rebounds per minute, especially on the offensive end, are far better than anybody, including Luc (Richard Mbah a Moute), on the team," Howland said. "He doesn't get as many rebounds on the defensive end because he's our best guy blocking out. Sometimes when you're so good at laying your body on another guy, that even though he doesn't get the rebound, he's making it easier for others to rebound."

Aboya is tied with Mbah a Moute with 36 offensive rebounds in Pacific-10 Conference play, although Mbah a Moute played 146 more minutes.
I love how AA2 crashes the boards. It is a joy to watch. Now only if he can get him to be more polished in terms of catching the ball downlow, and perhaps develop one consistent post move. He is still only a sophomore. He is going to be pretty good I think by the time he is done in Westwood.

AA2 (and Mata) will have their hands full with Ryan Anderson tonight. BBR has more on that match-up and a great primer for tonight’s game in its preview:
The Bears are averaging 69 points a game (7th, Pac-10) on 43.9% field goal shooting (7th, Pac-10) including 34% on three-pointers (8th, Pac-10). As a result of injuries along the front line, they are primarily a perimeter-oriented offense. UCLA has struggled against teams who have used a spread offense against them, however, Cal doesn't have the playmakers or speed in the backcourt to be effective in this manner.

Defensively, Pac-10 teams have been shooting close to 50% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc against the Bears Cal plays primarily a man-to-man defense but will switch to zone at times during the game. Expect the Bears to play a lot of zone on Thursday to try to slow the tempo of the game as well as to help them mask some of their potential defensive mismatches against the Bruins.

California lost starting center DeVon Hardin to a foot injury at the start of the season. Hardin recently started walking without his protective boot but it is doubtful he will play anytime this season, although he does plan to accompany the team to the upcoming Pac-10 tournament at Staples.

Without Hardin in the middle, the Bears have gone with a smaller starting line-up of four guards and a freshman forward. As a result, they've been beaten badly on the boards, minus 5.1 (8th, Pac-10).
Hopefully Luc, Mata, and AA2 can take advantage of the size matchup and dominate around the boards like they did up in Berkeley. If they can maintain their advantage in rebounding and combine it with a stifling perimeter defense containing Ubaka, they should be all right tonight. Let’s hope they come out and can continue with the same intensity they showed in Tucson.