Time: 7 p.m., Tucson time
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,538)
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 91/91]
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton/Samantha Ponder)
Legendary UCLA and NBA player Bill Walton, who will call the game tonight for ESPN2, is not keen on the coaching skills of Bruins coach Ben Howland. During the Pac-12 Networks bus tour last week to promote the conference’s new network, Walton criticized Howland in front of an audience comprising mostly of USC business students. When talking about an upcoming UCLA game, Walton said, “What should be an absolute unbelievable game will be ruined by the style of the UCLA basketball team who loves to do nothing but call timeouts and run plays. Come on, basketball is like music. Your entrepreneurs out there in the world are not sitting there holding people back. They are chasing it, and you got that with John Wooden basketball, up and down, never calling a timeout, never calling a play.” Walton listed the top four coaches in the Pac-12: Arizona’s Sean Miller, Oregon State’s Craig Robinson, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar and Oregon’s Dana Altman. No mention of Howland. He also said USC should hire Phil Jackson as its next coach. Robinson one of the top coaches? Jackson coaching USC? He may have a point about Howland’s style, but in his words … “come on” about the other comments.
UCLA freshman guard Kyle Anderson is the top player in the WILDABOUTAZCATS.net productivity rating. It’s no surprise considering the numbers he’s producing. Anderson (6-9, 235) has produced six double-doubles, and the versatile player from Fairview, N.J., is the Pac-12′s only player to rank in the top 15 in rebounding (sixth, 9.1 rebounds per game) and assists (sixth, 3.7). Anderson is averaging 9.9 points per game and has compiled a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, the third-best mark among Pac-12 players. He also ranks seventh in the conference in steals per game (1.6). Anderson has made 43 of 50 free throws (.872) in UCLA’s last 13 games since opening the season making 13 of 26 (.500) in the first six contests. Anderson is also clutch: He made all six free throws in UCLA’s 78-75 win at Colorado on Jan. 12, including four free throws in the game’s final 1:01.
Something does not add up. Anderson as a guard-wing is listed at 6-8 and 235, practically the same size listed for Arizona power forward Brandon Ashley (6-9, 235). Anderson seems more slender than Ashley. Perhaps Anderson’s listed size is UCLA’s wish that the Bruins had more beef in their lineup. UCLA’s recent history with Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith was difficult for Arizona to handle with smaller Derrick Williams and Jesse Perry manning the post. The average listed size of Arizona’s starting frontcourt (Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Solomon Hill) is 6-8.3 and 236.7. The average size of UCLA’s starting frontcourt (Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad and Travis Wear) is 6-8 and 230. The biggest difference is Tarczewski (7-0, 255) is a traditional post player whereas Wear (6-10, 230) can play more away from the basket. Anderson and Muhammad are also perimeter oriented. Hill can be explosive toward the basket and Ashley is mostly dangerous on the blocks.
Muhammad claims tonight’s game is a “gotta-win” for UCLA. “This is a `gotta-win’ for us,” he was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Daily News. “We’ve got to win this game, no questions asked.” Muhammad also told the Los Angeles Times: “I’m taking it upon myself to win this game.” Expect Muhammad and the Bruins to play with reckless abandon. They know from the media — but mostly from Howland — about their shortcomings with rebounds (ranking 131st in the nation). Muhammad also knows this is a rematch against Arizona guard Nick Johnson, whom he lost to in a classic high school game in Las Vegas two years ago. Moreover, Muhammad was recruited by Arizona coach Sean Miller — how extensively can be argued — so he will be fueled by plenty of motivation.
Guard play will be significant in this game matching Arizona’s Johnson and Mark Lyons and UCLA’s Jordan Adams and Larry Drew II. Drew, a senior transfer from North Carolina, has an incredible 153 assists to go with only 33 turnovers. His unselfish play has enabled Muhammad, Wear and Anderson to function together. Adams is another freshman who averages 15.2 points and leads the Bruins with 91 trips to the free-throw line (making 76 for a percentage of 83.5). He is also shooting 45.3 percent from the field (53.3 percent inside the three-point line). Johnson and Lyons showed how effective they can be against ASU attacking the basket. Lyons has only 56 assists in 17 games but he has managed to mix taking the most field goal attempts for Arizona (183) with being a playmaker without wrecking the chemistry. Johnson averages 4.2 rebounds and two steals in Pac-12 games. An indicator of making things happen is drawing fouls by being aggressive. Lyons and Johnson have combined for 56 free-throw attempts in their five Pac-12 games, an average of 11.2 a game. Drew and Adams have only 39 attempts in six games (6.5 a game).
PAC-12 RPI ASSESSMENT
RPI based on CBSSports.com
|Rank||Team||Record||P12||Top50||SOS||*Quality Wins||**Poor Losses|
|2||Arizona||16-1||4-1||5-1||4||No. 4 Miami (N)/No. 6 Florida (H)/No. 19 Colorado (H)/No. 32 SDSU (N)/No. 39 Southern Miss (H)||None|
|19||Colorado||12-6||2-4||2-4||5||No. 16 Colorado State (H)/No. 38 Baylor (N)||None|
|25||Oregon||17-2||6-0||3-1||83||No. 2 Arizona (H)/No. 20 UNLV (A)/No. 43 UCLA (A)||None|
|43||UCLA||15-4||5-1||3-3||55||No. 19 Colorado (A)/No. 26 Missouri (H)/No. 48 Indiana State (H)||No. 207 Cal Poly (H)|
|71||ASU||14-4||3-2||1-3||118||No. 19 Colorado (H)||No. 184 DePaul (H)|
|76||Washington||12-7||4-2||1-3||65||No. 19 Colorado (H)||No. 123 Albany (H)/No. 132 Oregon State (A)/No. 146 Utah (H)/No. 160 Nevada (H)|
|77||Stanford||11-7||2-3||0-5||46||None||No. 139 USC (A)|
|132||Oregon St.||11-8||1-5||0-5||96||None||No. 139 USC (A)/No. 176 Towson (H)|
|139||USC||8-11||3-3||0-7||24||None||No. 173 Cal Irvine (H)/No. 178 Georgia (A)|
|156||Utah||7-9||1-5||1-3||70||No. 45 Boise State (H)||No. 139 USC (H)/No. 177 Washington St. (A)/No. 182 SMU (A)/No. 226 CSU-Northridge (H)/No. 270 Sacramento St. (H)|
|177||Wash. St.||10-8||1-4||0-4||124||None||No. 198 Pepperdine (A)|
*-Wins vs. Top 50 teams
**-Losses vs. Top 100 teams or lower
SOS-Strength of schedule
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner