Date: Saturday, 2/2/19
Tip-Off Time: 1:00 pm PT
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Seattle, Washington
Betting Line: Washington -7.5
UCLA 2018-19 Statistics
Record: 12-9 (5-3)
Points For per Game: 78.8 (47th)
Points Against per Game: 74.9 (240th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106 (125th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.6 (63rd)
Strength of Schedule: +4.44 (58th)
UCLA Key Players
C-Moses Brown, Fr. 7’1, 245: 11.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 65.0% FG, 35.4% FT
The 5-star freshman has been what he was expected to be. A physical freak who can rebound, block shots, and dunk with authority. What he can’t do is shoot worth a lick as he has attempted just 3 shots outside the paint all season and is making barely over one-third of his FTs. He leads the country in offensive rebound percentage so there’s a chance Brown has a huge game against the zone.
F- Jalen Hill, Fr. 6’10, 235: 3.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.3 apg, 60% FG, 61.5% FT
Hill is one of three 6’9+ forwards who all play about 20 minutes per game but he has been the most efficient and is the best rebounder. But he’s also the rawest offensively and really doesn’t attempt a shot unless it’s a dunk. Still, Hill is the only UCLA player other than Brown who is liable to completely destroy the Huskies on the offensive glass.
G- Kris Wilkes, So. 6’8, 215: 17.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, 45.4% FG, 33.6% 3pt, 63.8% FT
Wilkes turned down the NBA last offseason and has taken a larger role in the offense although his efficiency has stagnated. He leads all players in Pac-12 play by taking 32.8% of his team’s shots when he’s on the floor so expect a lot of Wilkes shooting the ball. He’s 8/13 on the season shooting from around the free throw line so Wilkes is UCLA’s obvious candidate to lurk in the high post.
G- Prince Ali, Jr. 6’4, 195: 10.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 44.5% FG, 36.6% 3pt, 69.2% FT
The only upperclassman in the rotation, Ali has returned from injury to put up solid numbers as the only UCLA starter shooting better than 35% on 3-pointers. Weirdly, Ali shoots 56.5% on 3-pointers from the left wing and just 30% from everywhere else so Thybulle will need to track him while he’s on that left wing even if it’s a few steps behind the line.
G- Jaylen Hands, So. 6’3, 180: 11.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.6 apg, 40.1% FG, 30.7% 3pt, 72.5% FT
Hands had the unenviable task of replacing Lonzo Ball as UCLA’s 5-star PG despite his play style being much more scoring-oriented. Give Hands credit for working on his distribution as he’s increased his assists per game by 4(!) despite only playing an extra 5 minutes per game (although his turnovers are also up 1.5 per game). Playing more on the ball has hurt his efficiency and his 3-pt percentage is down nearly 7% from last season and is below 30% in Pac-12 play.
UCLA Shot Chart
UCLA will probably be the best team the Huskies have seen this season of hitting that free throw line jumper. Having Matisse Thybulle lurking to swat you from behind tends to affect a shot but if the Bruins can succeed in that area then their offense may be able to put up points despite spotty shooting from beyond the 3-pt line.
Anytime you’re playing a team that fired their coach mid-season at home you should probably be expected to win. The Bruins axed Steve Alford following home losses to Belmont and Liberty (the latter by 15 points) but was it really necessary to do it when they did? Belmont is up to 68th in KenPom and Liberty is 58th. No, UCLA shouldn’t lose to those teams but it’s not like they lost to Santa Clara (looking at you USC).
UCLA went on a mini-run to start conference play after the firing but it included a miracle comeback plus the easiest week available in the conference, hosting Cal and Stanford. Since then they’re 2-3 and have just one Pac-12 win against a team in the top half of the conference standings. You want some more anti-UCLA fodder? I know you do. The Bruins are just 2-6 away from Pauley Pavilion this year (at Wazzu on Wednesday and at Oregon which required a 10-0 run in the final minute to force OT). They are also 3-9 against top-100 teams at KenPom.
The talent is definitely there but youth mixed with terrible coaching isn’t a great recipe for success. UCLA is the 350th ranked team in the country in experience as they have 0 seniors on the team and just 1 junior in the rotation. Unsurprisingly given that information they play at one of the fastest tempos in the country, are 344th in FT percentage, and last in the conference in getting the ball stolen. Sometimes the physical advantage overwhelms you but UCLA makes a lot of stupid mistakes and don’t do the little things to win games.
On offense the Bruins are pretty meh. They don’t shoot a great percentage from beyond the arc or at the free throw line, their starting center doesn’t have a post-up game, their starting point guard can’t run the pick and roll well, and they turn the ball over too much. The only thing propping them up is their size which allows them 2nd chances for easy putbacks and their athleticism which lets them get out in transition. They’re also in the 95th percentile on unguarded catch and shoot opportunities and just 30th percentile when contested. Play fundamentally sound defense against them and they will have trouble scoring.
The Bruins will largely run out a zone on defense which lets them use their elite length (2nd nationally in effective height) to contest shots even though they aren’t nearly as cohesive in the zone as Washington. The defense has been particularly effective since conference play started as UCLA is 2nd behind UW in conference-only defensive efficiency. They aren’t nearly as good at getting takeaways but they are much better at preventing offensive rebounds. In terms of preventing extra possessions they largely cancel out.
If the Husky offense we’ve seen over this 10-game winning streak shows up again then Washington should be able to roll. My one concern in this game (which you should be able to guess) is the possibility that UCLA just demolishes Washington on the glass which still allows them to gain a possession advantage despite committing a lot of turnovers. The Bruins will also push the ball at every opportunity on offense. If the Huskies aren’t making shots then they won’t be able to get the zone set before UCLA is attacking and that plays into UCLA’s gameplan. But there’s no way I can pick against UW in this one. Especially since there will be several top 2020 and 2021 football recruits at the game in what should be a sellout and one of the most raucous crowds Hec-Ed has seen in the last 5+ years.
Washington Huskies- 75, UCLA Bruins- 66
Keep up with the game in the comments below. You can also follow me for all your UW Men’s Basketball News and Game Updates @UWDP_maxvroom