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UCLA Women's Basketball: Can the Bruins Climb to the Top of the Pac-12?

The 15th-ranked Bruins knocked off two unbeaten conference foes last week. UCLA can continue its perfect start to the 2016 Pac-12 campaign with a victory against #11 Oregon State tonight.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: #11 Oregon State (10-2, 1-0)

When: 7:00 PM PST, Monday, January 4, 2016

Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA

AudioBruin Live Audio

Video: Pac-12 Networks

Live StatsUCLA StatBroadcast

Official Game Preview | Game Notes

UCLA Knocks Off Two Undefeated Teams

The Bruins (10-3, 2-0) started their Pac-12 season last week with two big wins against previously undefeated USC and Oregon. In my opinion, both teams are deserving of their top-30 rankings, which makes the pair of wins even more impressive.

If not for a poor-shooting second quarter, the Bruins would have won quite comfortably against the Ducks. However, the Bruins came out on fire in the third quarter to take the lead for good. Four three-pointers by Nirra Fields, and another three deep balls by Kari Korver sparked UCLA's second half scoring. Fields finished the game with 31 points, and even Bruin starter finished in double-digits in scoring. Kacy Swain and Jordin Canada each registered double-doubles: Swain collected 14 rebounds to go with her 10 points, and Canada tallied 12 points and 11 assists.

The official site has the box score and highlights:

Scouting the Beavers

The Beavers (10-2, 1-0) have one of the best shot-blokcers in the country in 6'6" senior center Ruth Hamblin. Hamblin is productive at both ends of the hardwood; she averages nearly a double-double in points (11.7 per game) and rebounds (9.8 per game).

OSU's primary scorer is 5'10" senior guard Jamie Weisner. Weisner averages 17.4 points/game while shooting nearly 42% from behind the arc. Her backcourt running mate, 6'1" Sydney Wiese, runs the Beavers' offense; she averages over 5 assists/game and nearly 13 points/game.

Oregon State's other two starters--5'11" junior guard Gabriella Hanson and 6'3" senior forward Deven Hunter--are tough defenders and secondary scorers.

Like most good teams, Oregon State is more concerned with fielding a lineup of players with complementary skills and well-defined roles. In that respect, the Beavers are more than the sum of their parts. They are a extremely experienced group characterized by great team defense.

What to Expect

The Beavers are turnover prone, so the Bruins' may have some success with their full court, aggressive, pressing defense. Because Oregon State shoots the ball relatively well from the perimeter, UCLA may be forced to play man defense for much of the game, which will create a difficult matchup for whichever Bruin draws the assignment of guarding Hamblin. The Beavers are a terrific rebounding team, so UCLA shouldn't expect to get many second-chances on the offensive end.

UCLA's best strategy against the Beavers may be to push tempo to reduce the effectiveness of Hamblin. If the Bruins are able to open the game up, they can pull off a big upset tonight.