This may be UCLA’s toughest home game of the season. Yes, Southern Cal has more talent. Yes, Oregon has talent and a great coach. But Colorado has talent, coaching, and experience.
On the other hand, maybe the Bruins can overachieve against the Buffaloes for the “reverse Alford” reason. Alford and his teams arguably overachieved against a very good offense program in Oregon in recent years. On the flip side, Steve Alford’s teams seemed to underachieve against Colorado, a defense first program.
So, will UCLA be able to match up at home with a more experienced defense-first team? The Buffs are ranked 15 on defense in the Kenpom rankings. Colorado recently passed the Bruins in rebounding margin after UCLA had two great defensive games and, then, a dud against Oregon. Though, it is basically a tie. Although the bad defense was in part due to the UCLA offense turning the ball over so much.
On offense, the Buffs rank only seventh in points for game and eight in field goal percentage, with the latter being virtually identical to the Bruins, 43.7% to 43.6%.
So, the offenses are not much different. Will the UCLA defense from the Oregon State game show up Thursday? Or will it be the defense from the Oregon game? In all ten of the Bruins’ wins, UCLA has held their opponents to less than 73 points. In Colorado’s four losses, they have scored 58, 76, 68, and 54 points.
In other words, UCLA has at least a shot if they can shut down the Buffaloes.
However, Colorado has quality experienced players. Six-foot tall junior McKinley Wright IV is a elite Pac-12 point guard who will be a tough matchup for Tyger Campbell even if Tyger was not slightly hobbled.
Junior Tyler Bey is leading the Pac-12 in rebounding. He is shooting 51% from the field and third in the conference in steals. Jalen Hill or Chris Smith will have his hands full with Tyler and I hate to think what happens if anyone else has to match up against him.
Senior Shane Gatling had a career night last year at Pauley, hitting seven threes and scoring 28 points. He is not have a great season shooting this year, but he must have fond memories of Pauley Pavilion. He is not a guy the Bruins can ignore.
The fourth starter, 6’7” junior Damon Schwartz, is a deadly three-point shooter. He is hitting over 40% on almost five attempts per game.
Notice a trend? Four of Colorado’s starters are experienced upperclassmen with three-plus years with Coach Boyle. This is a team that knows what to do and what their coach wants.
So, while I want to be optimistic about the game, this looks to be a really tough game for UCLA. Maybe the Bruins can overachieve against a defense-first team at home.
Listen to the Game Here on BN!
This season, we are proud to, again, have today’s audio feed for everyone who opts to use the TuneIn Player link below. For optimum results, start the audio feed then pause your DVR and sync them up together. Today’s game is on ESPN2 with Dave Feldman and Corey Williams calling the game. If you would prefer to listen to Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray call today’s game instead you can listen to today’s game online.
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