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Bruin Bites - ASU Basketball Edition

Yes, this is a must win game

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Jeff Gross

Some quick notes about the UCLA v. ASU game. Off the top this game is must win for UCLA who cannot afford to go 1-2 in conference and lose a game like this at home after the crappy preseason schedule.

UCLA continues Pac-12 play against Arizona State on Sunday night [at 7 pm on ESPNU] and holds a 63-18 lead against the Sun Devils in the all-time series. Last season, UCLA went 2-1 against Arizona State. The Bruins secured a 79-74 overtime win in Pauley Pavilion and overcame a double-digit second-half deficit against ASU in the Pac-12 Tournament (quarterfinals). Arizona State has been led this season by sophomore Jahii Carson (18.6 ppg, 4.8 apg) and senior Jordan Bachynski (12.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 4.8 bpg). UCLA has won six of its last seven games against Arizona State.

The Sun Devils have a truly international team:

The Sun Devils have one of the conference's top point guards in Jahii Carson, who averages 18.6 points and 4.8 assists. Jermaine Marshall averages 15.1 points and has made 45% of his three-point shots. But the Bruins have a sizable problem, 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski, who averages 12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.8 blocks. Bachynski, who is from Canada, is part of Arizona State's "foreign aid" trio. Forward Jonathan Gilling (Denmark) averages 6.9 points and guard Egor Koulechov (Russia) averages 5.3. That's 25 points per game the Sun Devils have imported.

Two of which have a history of good games versus UCLA:

VS. UCLA: Jordan Bachynski has five 20-point games in his career, two of them have come against UCLA. He had 22 points and 15 boards vs. UCLA last year in Tempe on Jan. 26 and had 22 vs. the Bruins in the Pac-12 Tournament...Jahii Carson averaged 18.3 points and five boards against UCLA last year...Jon Gilling averaged 14 points and had 13 threes vs. UCLA last year. He has played five games against UCLA and is averaging 15.2 points against the Bruins and is 21-of-47 (.447) from the three-point stripe against them...ASU outrebounded UCLA by five per game in the three tilts last year.

Of course while we talk about the problems with matchups with ASU, we should never forget UCLA presents one of the toughest matchups in the country as this Arizona paper wrote:

Put simply, Anderson is a matchup nightmare: A 6-foot-9 point guard who leads the Pac-12 in assists and ranks second in defensive rebounding. The sophomore feels just as comfortable in the post as he does on the perimeter, making him one of the more unique players in college basketball.

"I said it and I stressed it during the (UCLA-Duke) game earlier this year: I don't want people to write that he's the next Magic Johnson, but he has the mini-version of that kind of skill," ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said. "Six-nine, playing on the perimeter, looking over the top of the defense ... and now he's added the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. Those things make him a legitimate threat."

While Alford has more talent and the Bruins should win this game at home, one thing Alford does not deserve blame for is the cream puff schedule. Dan Guerrero and Ben Howland set up a schedule that made winning league an absolute must and it is highly questionable if it helped prepared UCLA:

There should be fewer creampuffs for UCLA's basketball team to munch on in the future.

The Bruins' non-conference schedule prepared them well for conference play. Of course, that's provided that conference is the Big West or Big Sky, maybe even the American East ... look out Stony Brook.

"We want to play elite teams," Alford said. "One of the reasons you come to UCLA is to play elite teams. It's what our players want." . . .

"It's not just building a resume, but, more importantly, it's getting ready for league play," he said. . . .

UCLA had a 4-2 record against teams that had winning records in non-conference play. The four wins came against mid-majors that may or may not win their conferences: UC Santa Barbara (9-4), Morehead State (11-6), Drexel (8-5) and Chattanooga (9-8). The Bruins are 0-3 against power conference teams with winning records: Missouri (12-2) and Duke (9-4).

A must win. Go Bruins.