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

Unfortunately, Sean Miller may have a chance to gloat because it doesn’t look good for UCLA tonight at Arizona.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Arizona State
Sean Miller will likely be all over the refs even if he is winning big because that is just the kind of guy he is.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the UCLA Bruins face the Arizona Wildcats at the McKale Center in Tucson at 7pm PT.

I wish I could write a different preview here, but I can’t. I just don’t see a way UCLA can win this game. 247Sports’ experts agree. I will take three parts of 247Sports’ preview by Robert Carpenter, but, first, the summary:

In review, for the Bruins to even have a puncher’s chance in this one, Hill has to play; the Bruins need to force Arizona into taking an inordinate amount of three-point shots; the Wildcats need to be cold from outside; the Bruins need to win the rebounding battle; the Bruins need to stay away from turnovers and UCLA needs to shoot well-above its season average from behind the arc. That’s not even accounting for how the Bruins deal with the hostile McKale Center crowd and the inevitable home cooking the officials will provide.

Jalen Hill seems unlikely to play. UCLA is at its best when Chris Smith is playing at an All-Pac-12 level, but Hill has probably been the most consistent performer. Carpenter writes:

Let’s get this out of the way; if Hill is out on Saturday then there is no reasonable chance the Bruins win the game. Hill’s absence and the negative effect that had on the team cannot be overstated. I wrote early in the season about how this version of the Bruins could be Tyger Campbell’s team, both tactically (as he is the point guard) and emotionally. I was wrong (I’ve been writing that way too much lately). It’s pretty clear now that from an emotional standpoint, this is Hill’s team. The Bruins responded to Hill being out in a way that shouldn’t have been surprising in hindsight. UCLA looked and played in a manner that appeared almost dejected to deflated from the opening tip.

And, lastly, I agree with wholeheartedly Carpenter’s take on SPTR:

Arizona has most everything going for it in this game. They are at home, which is good for about 10-12 points just because of the calls the Wildcats typically get from the elite Pac-12 officials.

I would be less upset if this was against a class act on the other sideline. It’s not. Sean Miller is a ref-baiting, petty, and corrupt coach. According to Ben Bolch, Sean Miller and Mick Cronin have some bad blood. They briefly were crosstown rivals when Miller coached at Xavier and Cronin at Cincinnati. While Cronin takes the high road, Miller can’t resist a dig.

Miller appeared to take a thinly veiled shot at Cronin during his first year at Arizona while discussing the Wildcats’ youth.

“We’re young,” Miller said at the time, “but I came from this area where there was a coach where I was the last five years and every time he lost, he would keep saying how young his team was. But when he won, he would never talk about how young his team was.”

Youth has been a theme once more for Cronin during his first season at UCLA. The Bruins have fought themselves at times as much as their opponents, often reverting to bad tendencies that have been difficult to shake.

When Cronin talks youth, it is not just in years. The upperclassmen, Smith, Hill and Cody Riley, all have less experience than most players their age. You also have to factor in learning a new system and having to play defense for the first time. But, regardless, coaches are usually classy to each as Cronin was to Miller. Miller is not.

I really wish I could feel some optimism about this game. Prove me wrong. Please!

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. Today’s game is on ESPN2 with Dave Feldman and Adrian Branch 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.

Join your fellow Bruin fans discussing today’s game.

This is your UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats game thread.

Go Bruins!