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UCLA Men’s Basketball Arizona State Preview: One Game at a Time

UCLA travels to Wells Fargo Arena Thursday night in their first game against the Arizona schools.

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The men’s basketball team is coming off a huge win last weekend when they pummeled Southern Cal by 32 points. The Bruins are now in their second to last week of league play with tournament seeding on the line, and take on Arizona State (6-9) at 6:00 PT Thursday night. We all know the big game is Saturday, but this one counts just as much. One game at a time, folks.

The Sun Devils are coming off a loss against Washington State, but before that won their second match up of the season against Washington. Overall, ASU is ranked 17th in the nation in turnovers, and has averaged just 5.2 in their last six games. I wouldn’t expect the Bruins to require much in the turnover category, as UCLA clearly has superior shooting and is definitely on an upswing on defense.

ASU has three of the top scorers in the Pac-12 entering play this week, with Torian Graham (18.5) in second followed by Tra Holder (17.2) in fourth and Shannon Evans II (15.8) in tenth. Holder also leads the Pac-12 in minutes per game with 37.5, but these statistics are also telling of the shallow Sun Devil bench. Only seven players on the ASU roster have a minutes per game average in the double digits, and one of those players has only seen action in 10 games this season. None of their players have a field goal percentage over 50%, and only two players are at 80%+ in free throw percentage. With the depth and talent the Bruins have, I’d expect this game to go in the books as a W.

Yesterday, head coach Steve Alford told the media the team needed to “be humble and stay hungry”. I’d definitely agree. It’s games like these that seem like easy wins, but still require the same self-control, intentness, and enthusiasm as any other game (thank you, Coach, for the terminology). I have a good feeling about this team as we are going into the home stretch before tournament play. They seem to be keeping it together and the rough patches look like they’re behind us.

If you’d like to relive the glory, here are some highlights of the Bruins’ shellacking of Southern Cal, courtesy of the Pac 12 Network.

Go Bruins!