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Game Thread, Preview and How to Watch: Arizona State Sun Devils at UCLA Bruins

Tonight’s game against Arizona State could determine who wins the Pac-12 regular season title.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Cincinnati v UCLA
Mick Cronin has asked Bruin fans to pack Pauley tonight.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tonight, the UCLA men’s basketball team hosts the Arizona State Sun Devils at Pauley Pavilion in a game which will have a lot of importance in determining who wins the conference regular season title. Tip-off is at 8 pm PT on Pac-12 Networks National, Los Angeles and Arizona.

Ben Bolch has an interesting spin on tonight’s game against ASU. It is about the fans.

The only thing missing is the fans.

UCLA could win the Pac-12 Conference regular-season title but is assured of setting a record low for attendance in Pauley Pavilion. Even with sellouts against Arizona State on Thursday night and Arizona on Saturday, the Bruins will finish with the lowest average attendance during their 54 seasons in the building they have called home since John Wooden was their coach.

UCLA has averaged 6,187 spectators in 15 home games, ranking seventh in the Pac-12 and less than half of Arizona’s home average of 13,697. The Bruins sold out one game, last month against USC, and are hoping for two more as part of a late-season surge that has put them back in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Coach Cronin tweeted:

Let’s make the place rocking for Coach Cronin. Hey, I am doing my part, I flew in from DC to attend the game tonight. What’s your excuse? ;-)

As far as the game, it is not going to be easy. It is a battle of the two hottest teams in the country. Winter and Whiners has a fair, but hopefully wrong, take on the game picking ASU to win:

Arizona State and UCLA will meet in a game with massive Pac-12 implications on Thursday night. The Sun Devils are all alone in first place in the conference with their 19-8 record and are on a seven-game winning streak. UCLA has won five games in a row and is one game behind Arizona State in the loss column.

Arizona State was tied for last place in the Pac-12 standings on Jan. 16. The Sun Devils had lost three of their first four conference games. They have won nine of their 10 games since then, making an improbable worst-to-first leap. Their lone loss in that stretch was a buzzer-beater loss to Washington State. They have picked up wins against Arizona as a 5-point underdog, Washington as a 5.5-point underdog and Oregon as a 2-point ‘dog. Arizona State’s most recent triumph was a 74-73 thriller against Oregon State on Saturday. The Sun Devils came out on top and extended its longest conference winning streak since 1980-81 to seven games.

Breaking down the game from UCLA’s perspective, there are a number of reasons to believe the Bruins can win this game.

First off, Jalen Hill did not play in the first game. This was huge because of numerous reasons including Cody Riley was not playing at the level he is now, Hill is the anchor of the defense, and the Bruins were forced to double inside without Hill. The latter is one of the reasons that the Sun Devils torched UCLA from three in the first game.

Second, ASU is the worst rebounding team in the Pac-12 by rebound margin. The Bruins are technically the second-best, a mere .1 rebound difference per game behind Colorado.

Third, UCLA’s three-point defense is much better than it was in the first meeting. It still has “lulls” but for games it has been dominant. Arizona State will not go 14-24 from three like they did in the first game.

Fourth, during their streak, the Sun Devils have beaten the worst Pac-12 teams on the road in California, Stanford, and Washington. They lost to Washington State. Their better wins have come at home. To be clear, the streak is very impressive but it is not like winning at Oregon or Colorado. UCLA’s home court could make a difference, especially if it is rocking.

So, this game is about us, the fans. Let’s go Bruins. Let’s rock the place!

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. Tonight’s game is on Fox Sports 1 with Aaron Goldsmith and Steve Lavin 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.

Just be sure to right-click on the link above so that you can open up another tab and have it going while you chat in the comments below.

Join your fellow Bruin fans discussing today’s game.

This is your Arizona State Sun Devils at UCLA Bruins game thread.

Go Bruins!