The Arizona Wildcats (16-3, 5-3) have made huge strides over the past two years, but there’s still some things that have eluded them. One of those things is defeating the UCLA Bruins (18-1, 7-1).
“This game means a lot honestly,” Arizona guard Aari McDonald said. “Definitely pay back from early January, and we owe them one from last year, as well.”
The one last year is probably the bigger loss simply because Arizona had so many chances to win. The game stretched to three overtimes before the Bruins finally walked away with the 98-93 victory. It was the only meeting between the two teams in 2018-19.
On Jan. 5 of this year, the Wildcats went in to Pauley Pavilion and lost on the back of a terrible third quarter, poor rebounding and a 23-7 disparity in free throw attempts. Things would have been even worse for Arizona if UCLA had been able to hit their free throws, but they went just 11-23.
“At UCLA, one of the tough things was we gave up 18 second-chance points,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “We gave up 13 points in transition.... We got killed on the boards, I mean, people off the bench got 10 (points) and 10 (rebounds). (Michaela) Onyenwere 18 and 13... So the first thing would be rebounding or doing a better job with that. But we’re not where we need to be and against them it’s really important because they send so many people to the boards and they’re so good at it. The other thing that hurt us is the third quarter. Third quarter we got murdered. Transition defense. Just 3s in transition, just not locked in and it’s like 28-13. So that was a difference in the game. Besides that, we played them evenly the other three quarters. So, I think jumping strong. And UCLA is known to have big third quarters so... hopefully that doesn’t happen. But we got to keep them off the boards. Got to play good defense. We know that, to hone in on their two key players (Onyenwere and Japreece Dean).”
Barnes is also happy to have her team healthy for this contest.
“If you remember back to UCLA, we didn’t have Dominique (McBryde) and we didn’t really have Helena (Pueyo),” Barnes said. “Helena was up the whole night before throwing up all night. So she was limited on playing. When you’re diabetic, your numbers get out of whack when you’re sick, so I only played her for a couple minutes. So, having her and Dominique, it’s very different.”
Will that be enough to overcome Onyenwere, who trails only McDonald in scoring in the Pac-12? How about Dean, who Barnes describes as “just like a microwave” on offense? What about the two experienced stars along with talented freshman Charisma Osborne, the jewel of UCLA’s top-10 recruiting class?
The three lead a group that has lost only once this year. That loss came against USC in a game where Onyenwere didn’t play. Can Arizona make it two losses on Friday night at McKale Center?
Complimentary parking on the mall is available. Purchasing tickets to either women’s basketball game this weekend also allows fans to buy discounted tickets for Saturday’s gymnastics meet between the No. 21 GymCats and No. 4 Utah.
If you can’t get to McKale, though, here’s how to follow along.
Arizona-UCLA game details:
Date: Friday, Jan. 31, 2020
Time: 6 p.m. MST
Location: McKale Center Tucson, Ariz.
Rankings and ratings: UCLA is ranked No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/WBCA poll. Arizona is ranked No. 16 by the media and No. 17 by the coaches.
Analytics site Her Hoop Stats rates the Bruins No. 22 and the Wildcats No. 18 overall. UCLA is rated the No. 26 offense and the No. 21 defense. The Wildcats are the No. 41 offense and the No. 6 defense.
The official RPI has UCLA at 6 and Arizona at 33.
Which channel is Arizona-UCLA on?
The game will be aired on Pac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Los Angeles and the Pac-12 Network national feed.
How can I stream Arizona-UCLA?
The stream will be available on Pac-12.com, but only if you already subscribe to the Pac-12 Network.
How can I listen to the radio call of Arizona-UCLA?
The call by Derrick Palmer is available on the Arizona IMG Sports Network. On the radio, you can tune into KTUC 1400 AM. You can also listen via Tunein.com or the Tunein app on your mobile device.
How can I follow Arizona-UCLA?
You can follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm. You can also follow our editor @RKelapire and our reporter @KimDoss71 for coverage of Arizona women’s basketball on game day and every other day of the week.