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UCLA Basketball: Washington State Preview

UCLA has two more games to play this season, and they're both in Pauley against two soft teams: Washington State and USC. While WSU might not be as big a cupcake as Washington, this should be an easy win for the Bruins, and then it's a long wait until the PAC-12 Tournament.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, this is a competitive, if not close, game. Washington State plays fast, and they're in the top half of the conference in most offensive statistics. On the other hand, they have the worst defense.

PAC-12 Standings Team Standings
FLR% 2 10
RPI 44 144
ORPG 2 11
TRPG 4 8
Fouls Received 12 3
Fouls Given 1 10
TO 4 5
Off Eff 5 7
PPG 7 4
PPG Allowed 4 12
Possessions 10 5
FG% 6 5
3FG% 6 7
FT% 9 7


Pts FG% FT% 3P% Rebs OR DR Assists TO Stls Blk eFG% FTR OR% TO% PPG
Washington St. 70.7 43.3 70.9 33.8 33.5 9.3 24.3 14.7 12 4 3.5 49.7 41.1 26.8 17.5 68.5
UCLA 70.4 42.6 66.5 35.1 38.8 12.8 26 13.5 11.9 6.6 3.8 47.8 37.2 34.2 17.5 67.9
Washington St. Def 76.7 46.9 68.6 37.3 35.7 10.4 25.3 13.8 9.6 6.2 2.7 52.6 32.7 30 14 68.5
UCLA Def 67.8 41.4 69.9 34.6 34.8 10.1 24.6 13.5 12.3 6.2 3.5 48.1 33.2 28 18.2 67.9

They have two players who are conference leaders. 6'10" forward Josh Hawkinson leads the conference in rebounding at  10.7 per game (but only 1.8 offensive rebounds per game compared to Kevon Looney's 3.6).  6'4" guard Devonte Lacy is fourth in points per game at 17.2 and second in free throws attempted. They go 9 or 10 deep.

They recently lost at home to Washington, but beat USC on the road. Their conference wins also include Cal (without Jabari Bird) on the road, and Oregon and Stanford at home.

I expect Looney to draw Hawkinson on defense. This will be an interesting matchup of the conference rebounding leaders. Logic dictates that Norman Powell would cover Lacy, but we know that Alford saves Norman, so we'll probably see the usual mix of Isaac Hamilton, Bryce Alford and Norman on him.

All that said, WSU is tied for eighth in the conference at 6-9. They don't really pass the eye test unless the opponent tries to get into a track meet with them. Their 3FG% at 33% is below average for the PAC-12 -- the perimeter is not something to worry about. On defense, they've played a packed-in zone against weak outside shooting teams, and this will be the only way for them to deal with both Tony Parker and Looney.

This should be another comfortable win for the Bruins if they can keep their focus. It's a long way until the start of the PAC-12 Tournament on March 11 (or 12 for them if they get the bye) with only one game left against last place USC who lost their point guard for the season. Meanwhile, they'll be thinking about the Oregon/Stanford, Oregon/OSU, Stanford/ASU and Stanford/Arizona results between now and the Tournament.