Today at 5:30 UCLA plays at ASU on ESPNU. UCLA's tournament hopes aren't dead but they are on life support. As the Zach the Intern notes:
UCLA has slipped out of all major NCAA tournament projections after losing five of its last seven games.
Last season, UCLA recovered well enough to sneak back in. This season, the Bruins have seven games left to do the same.
Steve Alford was "encouraged" in the loss to Arizona:
"We played well here," he said. "We fought. I wanted to see emotion. We got that. We fought like crazy. We did a lot of good things."
The official notes show why it is so difficult but also why UCLA has a lot of good pieces for Steve Alford to work with:
- The Bruins are currently amidst a seven-game stretch that features five road games ... following this Sunday evening's game at Arizona State, UCLA will return home to host Utah (Feb. 18) and Colorado (Feb. 20) ... UCLA is looking for its first victory at Arizona State since Feb. 23, 2012 (the Bruins won that game, 66-57).
- UCLA is the only Pac-12 team to have at least two scorers in the conference's top 10 (Bryce Alford is fourth with 16.7 ppg, Isaac Hamilton ranks sixth with 16.6 ppg) ... the Bruins are the only Pac-12 team with at least two players among the league's top 10 rebounders (Tony Parker is third with 9.4 rpg, Thomas Welsh ranks sixth with 8.5 rpg).
The good news for the tenth place UCLA Bruins is that Arizona State is eleventh place. This is a must win, maybe even just for the NIT and is arguably the easiest game left on the schedule and certainly the easiest road game.