#14 UCLA Women's Basketball (20-7, 12-4)
Opponent: Arizona (11-17, 2-14)
When: 8:00 PM PST, Friday, February 26, 2016
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Even though the Bruins are out of the Pac-12 title race, there's still plenty to play for tonight. If UCLA can win its final two regular season contests this weekend, the Bruins will head into the Pac-12 tournament as the #3 seed, which will presumably mean that they can avoid playing Oregon State until a potential matchup in the final. More importantly, a sweep of this season's final homestand will position UCLA well for a possible top-16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That seeding would allow the Bruins to play the first two rounds of the tourney in the friendly confines of Pauley Pavilion.
The first step in sweeping the Arizona schools is beating the Wildcats tonight. That task is far and away the easier of the two, although the Bruins have some significant issues to address tonight that have periodically caused problems. On Sunday against the seventh-ranked Oregon State Beavers, the UCLA offense reverted back to some of the bad habits that plagued the team last season and have returned now and then this year.
Two statistics are all that's needed to understand the nature and magnitude of the problem: against the Beavers, the Bruins had just 5 assists compared to 13 turnovers. Actually, considering the fact that the Bruins like to play uptempo basketball, 13 turnovers isn't too bad, but five assists is dreadfully low for a team that needs to share the ball to be effective in the halfcourt offense.
The results on the offensive end in Corvallis were definitely unacceptable. When the Bruins don't move the ball, UCLA's offense is predictable. On Sunday, Jordin Canada and Nirra Fields combined to take over half the Bruins' shots, and as a team, UCLA shot less than 30% from the field. That won't get the job done.
Among other things, the Bruins need to do a better job of getting Kari Korver open and getting her the ball. UCLA also has to find ways to get Kacy Swain the ball in the low post. Tonight's game against the Wildcats should give the Bruins a good opportunity to reset the offense and get the ball moving again. UCLA simply cannot beat elite teams by settling for an offense that consists of individual games of one-on-one.
These two teams met just three weeks ago, and on that occasion, the Bruins tamed the Wildcats early starting with a 16-2 first quarter and a 23-point halftime lead. It's unlikely to be quite that easy again tonight, but the Bruins should be able to go into halftime with a double-digit lead.
The Bruins close out the regular season on Sunday with a showdown with the Sun Devils. However, that game will only be important if the Bruins manage to take care of business tonight.