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UCLA Basketball Notes and Preview: Will the Horror Show Continue?

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Brief Preview and notes on tonight's 7 p.m. game against Cal Poly

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Will the soul crushing weekend for UCLA fans end with another loss?  UCLA is favored by 10 tonight against a Cal Poly team that lost by just 2 to UNLV at UNLV.  The game starts at 7:06 p.m. on the PAC 12 Network.

There are some alarming statistical similarities between the games as well.

  • The Bruins need to be much more careful with the ball. Cal Poly scored 26 off their 72 points off the 19 turnovers they forced against UNLV.
  • UNLV outrebounded Cal Poly and won the points in the paint.

Neither of these was as extreme as UCLA in the Monmouth game of UCLA.  However, it is safe to say UCLA must continue to take advantage inside and go inside early and often:

BIGTIME TANDEM

Senior Tony Parker and sophomore Thomas Welsh started in the Bruins' frontcourt together for the first time in a regular-season game last Friday. Parker, standing at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, and Welsh, towering at 7-feet and 240 pounds, combined to shoot 13-for-20 (65.0 percent), totaling 31 points, 29 rebounds, six blocks and five assists. Parker had seven double-doubles last season (and one as a sophomore in 2013-14), while Welsh registered his first collegiate double-double in the loss to Monmouth (12 points, 10 rebounds in a career-high 39 minutes).

Cal Poly is a good defensive team historically:

MUSTANGS LOOK TO RETAIN DEFENSIVE IDENTITY IN 2015-16: Having led the Big West Conference in fewest points allowed per game for five successive seasons, Cal Poly entered the year having ranked among the top 40 NCAA Division I teams in four of the last five years. Last season alone, Cal Poly allowed opponents just 59.3 points per game, held teams under 60 points 15 times and set a program record by allowing just a 34.9 percent field goal mark.

On offense Cal Poly is not necessarily good but they are experienced:

Highlighting Cal Poly's returning group is a four-player senior class that has made a combined 311 appearances for the Mustangs. Forward Brian Bennett (Romeoville, Ill.) earned All-Big West second team praise last season after finishing 64th among NCAA Division I players with a 50.7 (146-for-288) percent field goal mark and ranking seventh among Big West players with 6.3 rebounds per game. Cal Poly's leading scorer a year ago with 11.5 points per outing, the 6-9 Bennett requires just 157 more points to become the 20th player in program history to reach 1,000 for a career.

Cal Poly, which also welcomes back its top five scorers from a year ago, returns 6-0 junior guard Ridge Shipley (Carrollton, Texas). Cal Poly's leader during the 2014-15 season with a 1.64-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, Shipley also averaged 8.4 points per 27 appearances.

Also set to make their first appearances as Mustangs after transferring into the program and redshirting last year are 6-9 forward Luke Meikle (Tacoma, Wash.) and 6-8 forward Josh Martin (Seattle). Meikle made 15 appearances for Gonzaga during the 2013-14 season while Martin played seven times for Minnesota early during the 2014-15 before transferring to Cal Poly.

This is not a cupcake but it is a game UCLA should win.  However, as Coach Alford admitted UCLA is not even an average team right now.  Thus the bad weekend may continue unless:

  • Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh become the top options on offense.
  • UCLA takes better care of the ball.

Lastly, a possible positive is the existence of a UCLA bench.

  • Lost in the disaster of Friday night was the nice play of Prince Ali. If Holiday gets out of control, Alford goes into hero ball mode, or Isaac Hamilton just plan disappears, Ali is an option.
  • Alex Olesinski was being asked a lot of to play at the top of the 1-2-2 zone. On the other hand, this may fit the athletic but raw Jonah Bolden. It will be interesting to see what impact Bolden can make and how UCLA will use him.

So let's stop the weekend bleeding that begin with the Friday 13th horror show.

Go Bruins.