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Game Thread, Preview and How to Watch: Arizona Wildcats at UCLA Bruins

Tonight’s game won’t be easy, but if the Bruins play the way they have been playing, UCLA should beat Arizona again.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at UCLA
Jake Kyman was the hero of the first half on Thursday. Who will be the hero tonight?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the UCLA men’s basketball program looks for their seventh win in a row when the Bruins host the Arizona Wildcats at Pauley Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm PT. UCLA’s current winning streak began three weeks ago when the Bruins beat the Wildcats on the road.

UCLA is officially the hottest team in the Pac-12 and, probably, the hottest in the country. Arizona is cold and underachieving their talent level, having lost two in row. The gamblers over at Picks and Parlays put it this way:

The UCLA Bruins are the hottest team in the Pac-12 as they have won 6 straight games which has propelled them into 1st-place, and they will get to host an Arizona team that has dropped 2 consecutive games. The Bruins have started to buy into the Mick Cronin system which is hard nose defense and 100% effort on every play, and that is something that a talented Arizona team lacks. The Wildcats have a ton of talent with Zeke Nnaji, Nico Mannion, and Josh Green, but they are freshmen which has led them to inconsistent play this season. UCLA has been dependent on Chris Smith as he is leading the team with 14.6 PPG and 6.2 RPG, but they have a good amount of depth as 6 people are averaging over 7 PPG. UCLA has been good at home this season with a 12-4 record, and I think they continue their success with a small upset here. Final Score Prediction, UCLA Bruins win and cover ATS 73-71.

Although, everyone else seems to pick Arizona. ESPN though only gives us a 20% chance. Kempom has Arizona at #14 and UCLA down at #84. The all-important net rankings have Arizona at #11 and UCLA at #76. The latter is key because UCLA desperately needs “quad 1” rankings to make the tournament.

The game breakdown by Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Star is worth a read. While Bruin fans think of UCLA’s defense as being the key, and it is, listen to what Arizona’s assistant coach Jack Murphy says (emphasis added):

“Campbell’s confidence is through the roof and offensively he’s the catalyst for a lot of what they want to do. His ability to get downhill, get in the paint and make good decisions drives them offensively. And then they have difficult matchups with Chris Smith and Jaime Jaquez. They’re able to isolate them on matchups that they feel are in their favor. Then (Thursday) night Jake Kyman comes off the bench and scores at a high rate, able to make 3s and really open up the defense. They’ve become really hard to guard. In a lot of ways, their offense is driving them because of their efficiency, and they’re number one in the league in offensive rebounding. They don’t miss much but when they do, they get it back, so they’re scoring at a high rate.

This sounds like the Ben Howland hey-days. Our offensive tempo is slow, but our offense is efficient. However, the rebounding is probably the best as a team since since there is no superstar rebounder like Kevin Love or Bill Walton.

Listen to the Game Here on BN!

This season, we are proud to, again, have today’s audio feed for everyone who opts to use the TuneIn Player link below. For optimum results, start the audio feed then pause your DVR and sync them up together. Tonight’s game is on Fox Sports 1 with Aaron Goldsmith and Steve Lavin calling the game. If you would prefer to listen to Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray call today’s game instead you can listen to today’s game online.

Just be sure to right-click on the link above so that you can open up another tab and have it going while you chat in the comments below.

On Thursday the crowd was rocking and helped as ArmyBruin’s excellent fan post mentions. If you’re alive and a UCLA fan, you should be rocking too. This has been a great streak.

Keep it going and beat the Mildcats!

This is your Arizona Wildcats at UCLA Bruins game thread.

Go Bruins!