ARIZONA WILDCATS (23-5)
at UCLA BRUINS (21-7)
Pauley Pavilion - Los Angeles, CA
Tip-off: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: UCLA -1, Total: 146.5
No. 11 Arizona looks for payback against surging UCLA when the two schools meet on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.
The Wildcats were 8.5-point favorites at home versus the Bruins on Jan. 24 when they were upset 84-73, and Arizona is also trying to recover from a loss to 7-point underdog USC on Wednesday night that dropped the team to 2-5 ATS in the past seven contests. UCLA put together a strong month of February, winning five of six games SU including three straight victories. However, the Bruins needed overtime to outlast Arizona State in Wednesday's 79-74 win and failed to cover. UCLA is 12-6 SU (11-7 ATS) versus Arizona since 2006, and 6-1 SU (5-2 ATS) when hosting the Wildcats in this same timeframe. Arizona is 7-3 SU (but 4-6 ATS) on the road this season, while UCLA is 14-3 SU (but 7-9 ATS) at home.
Which Pac-12 powerhouse will score the crucial victory on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is 4-1 ATS in his past three days to improve to 55% ATS (91-76-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 4-1 ATS since Thursday, and is now 52% ATS (150-140-5) for the season.
Arizona is a quality offensive team with 73.6 PPG and high shooting percentage of 45.0% FG, 36.0% threes and 74% free throws. The Wildcats like to attack the glass with 9.9 offensive RPG and a +6.1 RPG margin, and they also have more assists (13.8 APG) than turnovers (13.1 TOPG) for the season. Defensively, the Wildcats hold opponents to 63.3 PPG on 41.2% FG (36.2% threes), and their 7.1 steals per game comprise half of their 14.2 TOPG forced. Three Arizona players average more than 10 points with SG Mark Lyons (15.2 PPG, 3.1 APG), PF Solomon Hill (13.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG) and G Nick Johnson (11.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.2 APG). All three players shoot at least 43% from the floor and 34% from downtown. Lyons has scored in double-figures in nine straight games, and also had 16 points in the home loss to UCLA on Jan. 24. But in that defeat, Lyons was 6-of-17 FG with zero rebounds, zero assists and five turnovers in 33 minutes before fouling out. Hill committed four turnovers that day, but still posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Hill is coming off a big performance Wednesday's at USC (21 pts, 6 ast, 5 stl), but the team needs him to focus more on rebounding, as Hill has pulled down a total of five rebounds in his past two games combined. Johnson was the team's best player against UCLA earlier this season with a season-high 23 points (9-of-19 FG), five rebounds and two steals, but like Lyons, he also fouled out of that game. But Johnson's offense was severely lacking throughout the month of February with just 6.5 PPG on 36% FG. Senior swingman Kevin Parrom (8.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG) has picked up some of that scoring slack with an impressive 17.5 PPG on 12-of-16 FG (8-of-12 threes) with 5.5 RPG in his past two games. Although Parrom made just 2-of-7 shots in the January loss to UCLA, he was able to grab six rebounds and dish out four assists.
UCLA scores 76.1 PPG, which is tops in the Pac-12 conference. And like Arizona, the Bruins shoot high percentages from all over the court with 46.2% FG, 34.5% threes and 71.6% free throws. The Bruins also rank 4th in the nation with a 1.51 Ast/TO ratio, and come up with 8.1 steals per game. This ball pressure has helped them limit opponents to 69.0 PPG on 41.6% FG. Freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad (18.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG) has been a scoring machine, notching double-figures in all but one game this season. He also leads the Pac-12 in three-point shooting with an impressive 44.9% clip, and lit up Arizona for 23 points (8-of-16 FG, 2-of-3 threes) in the Jan. 24 upset. Although he didn't play as well on Wednesday after rolling his ankle, he is expected to start on Saturday. Freshman PF Kyle Anderson (10.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG) is averaging a hefty 13.3 PPG and 12.3 RPG in his past three contests, tallying 21 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in Wednesday's win. He was a defensive force against the Wildcats in the last meeting with 12 rebounds and four steals in addition to his eight points. Freshman SG Jordan Adams (15.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG), who scored 15 points with five rebounds in that game, has also been on fire recently with 20.7 PPG on 62% FG in his past three contests. But this trio of talented frosh wouldn't be nearly as effective without the leadership of PG Larry Drew II (7.1 PPG), who ranks 4th in nation with 7.8 APG. Drew had nine assists and just two turnovers in the victory in Tucson on Jan. 24, but despite a stellar 3.46 Ast/TO ratio, he has committed 17 turnovers (with 26 assists) in the past three games combined. Junior PF David Wear (7.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) came off the bench to score 15 points with eight rebounds in the win at Arizona earlier this season, but his twin brother, PF Travis Wear (11.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG) will be a game-time decision because of a sprained foot.