Arizona lost 65-52 at home to UCLA on Feb. 8, shooting its worst percentage ever at McKale Center. The Bruins have won six straight to move into a tie for first place with ASU and Oregon, while the Wildcats are looking to avoid a sweep in order to hold onto a top-four finish and a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Tip off is set for 8 p.m. MT with the game being shown on ESPN.
Below are our staff predictions:
Brian J. Pedersen — UCLA wins 68-62
Arizona played much better against the previous two teams it faced the second time around after losing the first, even if the Oregon game went the same way, so it stands to reason the Wildcats will do the same against UCLA, right? It’s good to dream.
The Wildcats are shorthanded, have no offensive identity—unless you call bad 3-point shots such—and can only play good defense for so long before something breaks. UCLA is as hot as can be, winners of six in a row and now starting to get into the NCAA tournament discussion. The only way Arizona wins is if the Bruins revert to their non-conference or early January form, which is probably asking too much.
Ronnie Stoffle — UCLA wins 70-61
Thursday night was an absolute abomination. Sean Miller likely knew all week that Josh Green would be unavailable for this trip due to a “back injury”. Max Hazzard missing that game could have been a late-week development.
Regardless, that was the most embarrassing and careless game plan I’ve ever witnessed from Miller. That game was absolutely there for the taking but his let’s-just-jack-up-three-pointers game plan allowed it to slip away.
Was anyone else having flashbacks to last year? This team is far too talented to be pulling pages from last year’s playbook. That statement is still applicable even with Green’s absence.
I understand USC was basically giving those shots to Arizona because they weren’t going to let Zeke Nnaji dominate. The lack of creativity from a scheming perspective of this coaching staff was disgusting.
A few weeks ago I said very few things would surprise me with this team. Here’s one: I will be beyond shocked if Arizona wins Saturday night assuming they trot out the same eight from Thursday. In other words, if Hazzard is unavailable again, Arizona has next to no chance of beating the hottest team in the conference on the road.
Christian Mortensen — UCLA wins 61-54
I so want to pick Arizona to win this game, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Having won six straight, UCLA is the Pac-12’s hottest team and are coming off a thrilling last second victory over ASU.
The Bruins will be smelling blood and Pauley will be bouncing, so I just don’t see the short handed Wildcats doing enough offensively to a get a win Saturday night.
Matthew Rein — UCLA wins 63-62
Thursday’s game against USC was as ugly as college basketball gets. Beyond only shooting 3 for 26 from three, Arizona’s offense looked tepid, and frankly flat out horrendous. Saturday night’s showdown against the scorching hot Bruins presents new challenges for the Cats. UCLA bullied Arizona in their first meeting in McKale, and I can’t imagine Arizona being able to impose their will.
I don’t think UCLA will win in a blowout, but it’s hard to see Arizona coming away with the victory right now. Is it possible? Sure. But without Josh Green and potentially Max Hazzard, the shorthanded Cats will really be challenged by this Bruin squad.
Ryan Kelapire — UCLA wins 72-60
The only reason I would pick Arizona in this game is because the Pac-12 almost never goes to script. Because on paper, this is an easy game to pick. The hottest team in the conference is at home against a short-handed Arizona team that can’t seem to get out of its own way. (Or make a dang 3-pointer.)
The Bruins’ deliberate style of play makes it hard for them to blow teams out, so I think they win by 10-13 points. Their physicality will wear the Wildcats out.