by Aengus Moorehead
Wildcats: 13-1 SU,8-6 ATS
Bruins: 9-6 SU,4-11 ATS
When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 7, 2016
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
After opening with back-to-back losses in their Pac-12 season, the UCLA Bruins will look to correct the ship Thursday night as they prepare to meet No. 7 Arizona Wildcats at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
UCLA comes into this game with a 9-6 record and are tied for last in the Pac-12. The Bruins have lost their past 2 games with their most recent loss coming against Washington State 85-78. However, the Bruins fare much better than their record shows with upset wins against then No. 1 Kentucky and Gonzaga.
The Wildcats are back to full strength, and just in time for the start of conference play. Senior center Kaleb Tarczewski had eight points and five rebounds in 15 minutes as he returned from a broken foot in the Wildcats’ 94-82 road win over Arizona State last Saturday.
The Wildcats shot a blistering 55.6 percent from the field and 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from beyond the arc. Guard Gabe York led the Wildcats with 22 points and six assists, while guard Allonzo Trier added 20 points and five boards.
Trier is a talented freshman who ranks second on the team with 14.1 points and shoots 52.6 percent from the field. York adds 13.7 points and has 34 assists but also 29 turnovers. Ryan Anderson leads the Wildcats with 15.1 points and 10.2 rebounds, while shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Tarczewski’s presence in the middle should improve an Arizona team that is one of the best in the country at crashing the boards, outrebounding teams by 12.4 rebounds per game this season.
Arizona’s been much better on defense this season – the Wildcats are currently No. 14 adjusted defensive efficiency – but its No. 28-ranked offense is getting better by the game. The Wildcats are averaging 87.7 points per game in their last six, and should be able to exploit some holes in a Bruins defense that is way down in 128th in defensive efficiency.
The sheen from UCLA’s wins over Kentucky and No. 20 Gonzaga at the start of December is fading quickly. The Bruins have lost three of their last five games since those wins, including back-to-back road losses at Washington and Washington State.
But they have more than enough attacking firepower to give the Arizona defense fits. All five UCLA starters scored in double-digits in their home win over Kentucky. Their stars can also come up with big individual performances.
Junior and leading scorer Bryce Alford recently dropped 30 points against Washington; while backcourt running mate Isaac Hamilton (16.1 PPG) went for 27. Power forward Tony Parker (6-9, 265) was held to 7 points and six rebounds, as he played just 26 minutes due to foul trouble.
The Bruins have the size to defend against the Wildcats, but it depends on which UCLA squad shows up. They average 79.9 points and shoot 45.7 percent from the floor, while allowing 76.5 points and teams to shoot 41.5 percent from the field.
Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins Early Odds & Betting Lines
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In their last action, UCLA was a 85-78 loser on the road against Cougars. They failed to cover the -4-point spread as favorites.
In their last action, Arizona was a 94-82 winner on the road against Sun Devils. They covered the -3.5-point spread as favorites.
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Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Trends
Current Streak: won 8 straight games.
Arizona is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games
Arizona is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Arizona's last 6 games
UCLA is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games
UCLA is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of UCLA's last 5 games
Arizona at USC Saturday, January 9
UCLA home to Arizona State Saturday, January 9
The Bruins seem to have a propensity to elevate their game against the nation’s top teams. Look for them to do it again at home in a late comeback. Take UCLA +2½ and the over 149½.
allonzo trier - arizona wildcats - bryce alford - gabe york - isaac hamilton - kaleb tarczewski - ryan anderson - ucla bruins