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UCLA v. WSU Basketball Preview, A Cougar Replay?

Before we get to the preview of WSU, first the important UCLA news, Tyler Honeycutt is back:

"It's good, it's a lot better," Honeycutt said. "It's almost 100%"

Honeycutt, a 6-8 sophomore forward, said he has full range of movement in his shoulder, but was feeling a little soreness after a two hour, 20 minute practice.

That is good news because obviously UCLA needs Honeycutt against one of the PAC 10 better teams. 

Which brings us to WSU.

During last year's debacle their were two teams UCLA beat twice, WSU and OSU.  UCLA shut down Klay Thompson limiting him to 21 points total in those two games.   UCLA is 52-2 (.963) against the Cougars in Los Angeles and has won 33 of the last 35 overall meetings.  

Of course this year's Wazzu team is better than past years and has beaten a top 25 team in Baylor.  They are a good offensive team and are 10th in the nation in FG% and 41st in scoring.  A few tidbits from the WSU site:

  • Juniors Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden are sharing the scoring load, averaging 22.3 and 16.1 points per game, respectively...the sharpshooting duo account for two of the top five scorers in the Pac-10.
  • Last season WSU was swept by UCLA including a 74-62 loss at Pauley Pavilion, Jan. 23.  Reggie Moore scored a career-high 24 points in the game.

Quite frankly Wazzu is a bit like BYU, trading Jimmer Fredette for Klay Thompson.  The BYU Cougars are probably a better team than the WSU Cougars but UCLA will need to play to that level or close against WSU tonight.  Malcolm Lee's defense may be key, but while that is likely to be there, let's hope the rest of the team's effort is there as well.

Honeycutt & Co. will need to play stifling defense for UCLA to contain the guard-heavy Cougars, who have the Pac-10's leading scorer in Klay Thompson (22.3 points per game) and perhaps its most reliable ball-handler in Marcus Capers, who is averaging 5.5 assists for every turnover.

"Their four perimeter players are as good as any perimeter players in the conference," Howland said.

. . .
"We just have to try to get physical with him and try to wear him down when he's on the offensive end," Bruins guard Malcolm Lee said. "Just keep playing defense."

Like the BYU game, UCLA will have a big advantage inside.  Let's hope Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith can damage WSU inside consistently.  Like many teams this year, WSU has no inside answer to UCLA.  

Realistically this is an extremely important game for UCLA.  CBH is generally very good with 6 days to prepare. UCLA has a big advantage on the inside.  But all that make this almost a "must win."  I know it is way too early to say that but when you look at the schedule. . . The next two games against UW and the trogans on the road.  UW is the cream of the conference.  SUC is playing better right now and a tough matchup for this UCLA Bruin group.  WSU is the "easiest" of the three.  Starting out bad tonight, we could easily start out 0-3 in conference.

Which brings me to the key point.  After the WSU game and hopefully for the rest of the season we won't have to listen to this crap on let downs anymore:

"Sometimes we might get too nonchalant or maybe [it's] just not going out there with the enthusiasm that we need to have just because that team doesn't have a number next to them," forward Tyler Honeycutt said Tuesday, referring to a national ranking. "But now that we see how much it can hurt us, I think we'll do a better job."

Go Bruins!