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Arizona women’s basketball heads into game against UCLA in 3rd in Pac-12 standings

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 18 Women’s - Arizona at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colorado gave Arizona women’s basketball a gift on Wednesday night. The Buffaloes outlasted Oregon in double overtime to knock the Ducks out of third place in the Pac-12 standings. The Wildcats were the beneficiary.

The issue is not inconsequential. The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Pac-12 Tournament do not have to face Stanford until the conference championship game. With the Cardinal still undefeated in conference play, it’s no small issue.

Now, Arizona needs to capitalize on Oregon’s misfortunes when UCLA comes to town. The Bruins have more talent than their 11-11 record suggests, but they have not been able to compete as a complete team all season. UCLA has four players averaging double figures, but they have seldom been on the floor together. Even in their 75-70 loss to Utah last week, the Bruins were once again without star Charisma Osborne.

Osborne has scored in double figures all but once this season and is averaging 17.1 points per game. In her absence, it is IImar’I Thomas who has been leading the Bruins. Thomas is second on the team with 15.5 PPG.

It’s difficult to know who will be on the floor for Arizona, as well. Head coach Adia Barnes said that she threw the competition for starting spots open this week. Whomever else she chooses to start, Cate Reese will not be among them after her injury at Washington State on Feb. 20.

UCLA is still trying to salvage its season. It is unlikely that the Bruins will be in the NCAA Tournament this season, but they could still act as a spoiler and get themselves a WNIT invitation. Will Arizona be able to respond to the loss of Reese and grab the opportunity Colorado gave it?

UCLA (11-11, 6-8) @ No. 12 Arizona (19-5, 9-5)

When and where: The game tips off at 7 p.m. MST on Thursday, Feb. 24 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

TV: The game will air on Pac-12 Los Angeles.

Radio: The radio call by Brody Dryden will be on 1400 AM (KTUC). The broadcast can also be accessed online at The Varsity Network or on the station’s website.

Stats: In-game stats will be available at Arizona Live Stats.

Rankings and ratings: Arizona is ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 11 in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA poll. The Wildcats are No. 13 in the NET and No. 18 in Her Hoop Stats’ rankings.

UCLA is not ranked in either major poll. The Bruins are No. 58 in the NET and No. 66 in the HHS ranking

Home and away: The Wildcats are 11-0 at home. The Bruins are 2-4 on the road.

Standings: UCLA is in eighth place in the Pac-12 with a 6-8 record. Arizona is third with a 9-5 record.

Projections: Her Hoop Stats gives the Wildcats an 87 percent win probability in McKale Center. The model predicts 67.7 points for Arizona and 55.2 points for UCLA. Keep in mind that this model uses machine learning to create its rankings and predictions. It has been trained using statistics that include Reese for the Wildcats.

How to follow: Follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm or on our Facebook page for regular coverage during the week. For live tweets during games and other coverage, follow our deputy editor on Twitter @KimDoss71.