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UCLA Men’s Basketball vs. Arizona State Preview: Top Scorers Meet in Late Night Match-Up

The UCLA Bruins take on the Arizona State Sun Devils tomorrow night in a battle of offense.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The #3 ranked Bruins will host the Arizona State Sun Devils tomorrow night at 8:00 pm PT at Pauley Pavillion, with ASU on a two-game losing streak to Utah and Arizona. The Bruins have won five of their last six games against Arizona State and a win would extend the Bruin home-game winning streak to 11. In addition, UCLA is seeking its first 19-1 start since going 21-1 to begin its 1991-92 campaign. ASU comes in at 9-9 on the season and 2-3 in conference play. The Sun Devils fell 81-74 to the Bruins last year on January 9 at Pauley. Although their record does not necessarily reflect it, ASU is second only to UCLA in overall scoring offense, averaging 81.6 points per game (UCLA comes in with 92.9). Since it is apparent that Arizona State can run up the score, it will be imperative for the Bruin defense to be on point tomorrow night, as well as keep that up tempo offense running that has served them so well this season. ASU is averaging just 11.0 turnovers per game, so don’t expect too much sloppy play from the Sun Devils on the offensive side.

Senior forward Obinna (Obi) Oleka is doing most of the big man work at 6’8”, as they only have one other starter, freshman Jethro Tshisumpa, who is tall enough to earn Big Man status, measuring in at 6’10”. Oleka is averaging a double double in the last nine games, and has lead or tied for the team lead in rebounding in all but two games this year. Tshisumpa has made his fair contribution, with 23 blocks in 148 minutes on the year.

Junior guard Tra Holder (who wears the number “0” because he says he will have “zero excuses”) is coming into the game versus the Bruins with 983 career points, and if he can score 17, will be the 36th Sun Devil to make it into the 1,000 point club. Holder has had eight 20+ point games this year, and he, along with junior guards Torian Graham and Shannon Evans II, are in the Pac 12’s Top Ten Scorers. Evans transferred to ASU from Buffalo and sat out last year per NCAA regulations, and he was on the Buffalo squad that played in the NCAA tournament in the 2015-2016 season.

Graham is definitely one to watch for off the bench. He posted a career-high in each of a three-game span, with 24 points versus Creighton, 26 points versus Central Arkansas and then a whopping 30 off the bench at Stanford. In his past seven games he is 58 for 111 (.523) from the field, 25 for 58 (.431) from the arc, and averaging 20.6 points overall. He is shooting .518 (71 for 137) from the field in the 10 games he has come off the bench, averaging 31.5 minutes and 17.8 points. I’d say ASU has their own version of our Aaron Holiday.

Go Bruins!