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UCLA Bruins Game Preview and Open Thread

Hec-Ed hosts a point guard battle of the likely numbers 1 and 2 picks in the 2017 NBA Draft

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday 2/4/2017

Tip-Off Time: 7:30pm PST

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: Komo 1000

UCLA Statistics:

Record: 20-3 (7-3)

Points For per Game: 92.3 ppg (1st)

Points Against per Game: 77 ppg (268th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 124.6 (1st)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 102.9 (133rd)

UCLA Key Players:

C- Thomas Welsh, Jr. 7-0, 245: 10.7ppg, 8.3rpg, 0.8apg, 56.5% FG, 93.8% FT

Welsh is one of the more frustrating match-ups in the conference. He's a tremendous shooter but his range doesn't extend all the way to the 3-point line so he'll kill you with mid-range jumpers. Yet, he's still 7 feet tall and can hurt you at the basket if you don't give him space. He's also 7th in the country in turnover rate so he's not going to make a mistake once he touches the ball.

T.J Leaf- , Fr. 6-10, 225: 17.0ppg, 8.9rpg, 2.7apg, 63.7% FG, 64.2% FT, 47.7% 3pt

Leaf was the 13th ranked recruit coming into the season and he may just be the 13th best player in the country of any age. He's 17th nationally in offensive efficiency and is also an elite rebounder and shot blocker. Leaf only takes a couple of three-pointers per game but makes almost half of him so he has to be guarded all the way out to the arc.

G- Isaac Hamilton, Sr. 6-5, 195: 14.9ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.0apg, 45.8% FG, 83.3% FT, 36.9% 3pt

Hamilton leads the Bruins in field goal attempts so his scoring numbers are slightly inflated. On most teams he'd be a fine go-to-guy but on this loaded UCLA team he's probably better suited as the 4th option.

G- Bryce Alford, Sr. 6-3, 185: 16.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.2apg, 47.7% FG, 80.2% FT, 45.1% 3pt

The coach's son is back again as possibly the most dangerous shooter in the Pac-12. Last season, he had less help but lit up the Dawgs for 28 and 30 points in their two games. His scoring numbers are all up and assist numbers are down now that he has a true point guard to play next to. This is likely what David Crisp's final form will look like his senior year.

G- Lonzo Ball, Fr. 6-6, 190: 14.8ppg, 5.8rpg, 8.0apg, 53.8% FG, 65.3% FT, 42.2% 3pt

Ball has been every bit as impressive as Markelle Fultz in their freshmen seasons although in very different ways. Fultz actually has both a better assist and turnover percentage than Ball despite the raw counting stats. But Lonzo is a much more efficient scorer, particularly inside the arc. He completes the quartet of Bruins who rank in the top-50 nationally in offensive efficiency.

The Outlook

UCLA's offense is close to unprecedented. It is absolute scorched earth. The only team since began tracking in 2002 with a higher adjusted offensive efficiency is the 2015 Wisconsin team that lost in the NCAA title game. However, that team played at the 2nd slowest pace in the country and methodically ground out possessions until they got the absolute perfect look. Instead, UCLA's offense is a fast paced killing machine. They're 6th in the country in possession length and always take the highlight play over the extra pass.

UCLA is 3rd in the country in 3-point percentage, 2nd in 2-point percentage, and 15th in turnover percentage. They're almost bulletproof. If they have any weaknesses at all it's that they don't draw fouls very often and they don't secure second chances very well. That last point is a lot less important when you have a team making over half of their attempts for the season. There's only been one game this season in which they were held to under 80 points and it was in a loss to USC last week when the Bruins only put up 2 more points than the Dawgs did against the Trojans.

Despite the offensive superlatives, the defense is the reason that UCLA isn't going to make the Final Four and probably not the Elite Eight this season. The Bruins largely follow the same blueprint as the Huskies. Try to score as quickly as possible, then save your energy until you're on offense again. The relative height advantage UCLA enjoys at each position means they are decent at defending the rim but they're very susceptible at giving up the extra pass to get a wide open look from beyond the arc.

The core difference between the Washington and UCLA defenses is that UCLA has been instructed not to foul and so they're willing to give up easy baskets rather than risk testing their limited depth. And with such a great offense, UCLA is more than happy to try to outscore you. The only chance the Huskies have in this game is if UCLA has a collective awful shooting night. The Bruins were 6 of 20 from deep in the loss to USC and it may need to be something like 5 of 25 tonight for UW to stay in it. Every NBA scout in the country will be in attendance for this one and they're likely to see plenty of points from both sides but a few more from UCLA


Washington Huskies- 85, UCLA Bruins- 96