The Pac-12 race may be wide open again with the new NCAA revelations against Arizona and Southern Cal. However, the bottom line is UCLA needs to win regardless of whether it is for a chance to win the Pac-12 or “just” to get in the NCAA tournament.
Of course, if history is a guide, that won’t be easy. UCLA’s record in the second game of pairs in a road trip is just awful. Outside the year with Lonzo Ball, UCLA has won just two games in the second game of a road trip under Steve Alford; both over teams that finished well under .500 for the season.
UCLA received some other breaks with tomorrow afternoon’s opponent. First, an extra day to prepare and rest with the game on Sunday instead of the normal Saturday. Second, Colorado has lost their last three including to an awful Washington State team. They are just 7-9 in conference and if they lose their next three (definitely possible) they will finish the season under .500.
On the other hand, Colorado is 6-2 at home. Their only other win in the Pac-12 was on the road against UCLA. In that win, Colorado went small with 6’6” George King as a power forward. King led Colorado with 26 points on 6-10 from three and even had 10 rebounds. King was matched up with GG and Alex Olesinski much of the game and neither could guard King. Colorado only shot 43% for that game but did hit 50% from three.
On the other side, Colorado completely flummoxed UCLA’s offense. UCLA was an awful 5-25 from three, with UCLA’s guard going 3-21. Holiday had six turnovers to 4 assists. UCLA also hurt itself shooting only 44% from the free throw line.
So what does UCLA have to do different? Well one is to make sure Kris Wilkes or Chris Smith guards King. GG just can’t. Maybe UCLA just had a really off night shooting that won’t happen again as shown by the inability to even make a free throw. A key to watch will be Aaron Holiday. Colorado’s McKinley Wright seemingly won the battle against Aaron Holiday last time. I can’t believe that will happen again.
Of course, this is Colorado’s last home game this season and senior night. Colorado isn’t playing for anything as they have no hope for the tournament but that may give them an emotional lift.
That should not matter though for UCLA. UCLA can’t lose this game. Colorado is ranked 150 in the BPI and 72 in RPI. Losing to Colorado twice in a season would not look good on an NCAA resume.