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College Hoops Pick
Each of these schools knows how important this game is. They both are sitting with one conference loss while Oregon is undefeated in conference play. Usually, they would be able to get revenge in the second game, but Oregon actually only plays UCLA and Arizona once in the regular season. Unfortunate for these two teams, lucky for the Ducks.
The loser of this game will fall two games behind the conference leader. That's a pretty big fall considering Oregon doesn't face the next two best teams again in the conference.
The problem for UCLA is that they have to go on the road in this game to a place where Arizona hasn't lost all year. After their loss at Oregon, the Wildcats have won convincing road games at Oregon State and Arizona State. Still, their biggest wins of the season came in one-point games over Florida and San Diego State.
UCLA wheeled off 10 straight wins with their full team intact, but couldn't get that big home win against Oregon last weekend. They let a first-half lead slip away mainly due to poor shooting. The Bruins only scored 27 points in the second half and that's not going to be enough against most solid teams no matter how much you get in the first. They got back into the rankings last week, but their loss leaves them unranked yet again.
Shabazz Muhammad has looked as good as expected, but when the team needed someone to break out of a funk against Oregon, it wasn't him. In that game, Muhammad attempted his fewest amount of shots for the season with nine and second fewest points of the season with 10. You'd think your star player would come through and pull you out of the big games, but Muhammad didn't really take up that role. Costly turnovers as a team also did them in late in the game. Another disappoint has been Jordan Adams who's averaging 15.2 points per game this season, yet only has two points total in the past two games. That's not going to help at all. Big man Travis Wear has stepped up and found outside shots and has helped. Kyle Anderson has also played big averaging 9.1 boards on the season and a nice 10pts/11rebs/6asts stat line against Oregon. Still, you need five guys to win the important games, not two.
The Bruins have a nice team, although not very deep, and they're going to need everyone to step up against Arizona. The Wildcats only have one loss for a reason. While they turn the ball over a lot, they still work together as a team and it shows on both ends of the floor. The backcourt of Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons will give problems to UCLA all game. Both are athletic guys that can shoot the ball, but can also get points driving to the hoop. Solomon Hill is a big forward that can stretch the floor with his three-point shot. He's been feeling it lately with 13 threes in his last five games. That's pretty deadly for a 6'7" forward. Arizona will try and utilize Kaleb Tarczewski has much as possible because UCLA doesn't have a great big man defender. Oregon's center Tony Woods had his best game of the season against the Bruins on Saturday.
This game will definitely be a battle in Tucson, but UCLA's inconsistencies may catch up with them again. Arizona has been on the road for three straight games and would like to get a big win in their return home.
Predicted Score - Arizona 79 UCLA 65
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