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UCLA at Southern Cal Preview: Has Steve Alford Learned?

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What adjustments, if any, will Steve Alford make against the more athletic Southern Cal?

Ho much will Tony Parker play in his last game against Southern Cal?
Ho much will Tony Parker play in his last game against Southern Cal?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight's game at 7:36 pm at the Galen Center with Don MacLean on the PAC 12 Network with Just SC has the chance to be just ugly:

UCLA hasn't lost both games to USC in a season since 2010. So while both teams have downplayed the matchup, it has generated a buzz at USC, where basketball has been an afterthought in recent years.

Kenpom does not like our chances either against the more athletic Southern Cal:

UCLA has a 23 percent chance of winning, the second-toughest odds of any remaining game

Steve Alford acknowledged the athlete problem in a press conference Tuesday but there are real questions on whether he is going to deal with it:

Steve Alford noted that UCLA hasn't defeated any of the three most athletic teams it has faced: Washington, Oregon and USC. He wouldn't commit to starting Bolden against the Trojans, but said "I don't see any changes."

Bolden seems like a no brainer of a solution to make UCLA instantly more athletic and better on D. Even Don MacLean who is usually hesitant to criticize said of the Bolden start against WSU:

"I'm kind of surprised they didn't try it earlier than this," MacLean said.

Of course the player Alford benched for Bolden, Tony Parker, was pretty dam good against Just SC last time:

UCLA will play at USC this Thursday evening (7:30 pm, PT) ... the Bruins lost to the Trojans in Pauley Pavilion, 89-75, on Wednesday, Jan. 13 ... Tony Parker led the Bruins with 27 points and 12 rebounds in that game ... USC claimed a 48-30 lead at halftime and UCLA closed the gap to nine points (78-69) with 5:04 to play.

And it is not like Parker and Welsh have been all bad:

Tony Parker became UCLA's 53rd player in program history to have scored at least 1,000 career points, accomplishing that feat midway through the first half of the Bruins' game against Washington on Thursday ... Parker is the fourth player in the last three seasons to hit the 1,000-point plateau (also Jordan Adams, Norman Powell, Bryce Alford).

Welsh enters the week having tallied 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, starting 21 games ... in conference games only, Welsh ranks third in the Pac-12 with 9.8 rebounds per game (behind Josh Hawkinson and Ryan Anderson)

Parker and Welsh currently rank first and second, respectively, in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds per game.... Parker has totaled 3.9 offensive boards per game, while Welsh has averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds per game.

Another quick note is Alex Olesinski is hurting (ankle) and likely won't play. So will we see big-big at all? Probably not. More importantly will we see more of Prince Ali over Bryce to help with the athlete problem? Absolutely not. Will we see any changes?

I guess I am bit scared that Kenpom is being optimistic and this may be a time to go back to reading articles on signing day.

Go Bruins!