Arizona comes home to McKale Center after their first road sweep of Pac-12 play to face UCLA on Friday evening (7:00 pm│ESPN). UCLA is 13-10 on the season and 4-6 in conference, losing last Thursday to rival USC. UCLA won the previous match-up on January 7th at Pauley Pavilion on Bryce Alford’s game winning three pointer.
Bryce Alford vs Kadeem Allen – Alford is UCLA’s leader and most experienced player, averaging 16.7 points, 5.3 assists and shooting 37% from three on 6 attempts a game. He is their big shot taker and maker, as evidenced with his game winning three pointer against Arizona earlier this season. When Alford is nailing threes and playmaking for UCLA, the confidence of the team goes up a notch. Allen is coming off a bad weekend in Washington. Feeling under the weather, he did not start against Washington State and fouled out in just 7 minutes of action. He committed 4 turnovers but hit the biggest shot of the game, a three pointer in the final minutes to put the Huskies away. Allen will need to bring his best defensive effort, fight hard over screens and prevent Alford from getting any open looks.
Aaron Holiday vs Gabe York – Holiday was extremely effective in the first meeting against Arizona, netting 15 points, 6 assists, 3 steals and making 2-4 three pointers. He was able to continually attack the paint and played with confidence and poise most freshmen don’t display that early into their college careers. York had a solid weekend against Washington State and Washington, and hit timely three pointers right before halftime against the Huskies to give Arizona some breathing room. With Allonzo Trier back from a broken hand, York will be able to operate more freely on the offensive end and not shoulder the burden too much offensively.
Tony Parker vs Ryan Anderson – Parker was fierce on the offensive glass against Arizona with 6 offensive rebounds and 12 total when the teams met in early January. He leverages his stature as an advantage positioning for rebounds. Anderson is coming off an outstanding weekend where he averaged 26.5 points and 13.5 rebounds. Anderson was named Naismith Player Of The Week, Oscar Robertson National Player Of The Week and Pac-12 Player Of The Week. It is great to see Anderson getting recognized nationally. If he can continue this level of play, Arizona will be extremely tough to beat.
Allonzo Trier made his return against Washington on Saturday and had 7 points and 2 steals before fouling out. However, those stats don’t reflect his importance to the team. He gives Arizona another scorer on the perimeter and a big body defensively. Opposing teams won’t be able to key in on Gabe York and with the confidence Ryan Anderson is playing with, Arizona has both the inside and outside game clicking.
Dusan Ristic played well against Washington with 11 points and 3 rebounds. When Ristic is in the game, I would like Arizona’s offense to go through him. He is so skilled offensively that most college big men cannot guard him, he will either score or get fouled. If Ristic can defend and rebound, his playing time will increase.
What To Look For
Turnovers. Arizona had 9 turnovers against Washington State, but 20 turnovers against Washington. Arizona was able to overcome the high number of turnovers against the Huskies with offensive rebounding, but typically 20 turnovers will result in a loss.
Defense. UCLA shot 52% overall and 50% from three in the previous meeting. Those percentages are too high and won’t get it done against the Bruins. Arizona will need bring intensity and focus on the defensive end from the opening tip and get the McKale crowd involved.
UCLA is a talented team on the bubble that is desperate for another win against Arizona. With eight games remaining in their regular season, UCLA doesn’t have room for error and needs every win it can get. Things are looking optimistic for Arizona. The Wildcats got their first road sweep of the season and Allonzo Trier is back. The schedule down the stretch favors Arizona, with five of the last seven games at McKale Center. If Arizona can take care of business at home, they will be right back in the hunt for another regular season conference championship.
Allonzo Trier wore the Kobe VI Prelude against Washington.