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UCLA Bruins Game Preview & How to Watch

Washington travels to Pauley against a reeling UCLA squad

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 01 UCLA at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Sunday, 1/14/23

Tip-Off Time: 4:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Streaming: Pac-12.com/live

Radio: Huskies Gameday App, Sports Radio KJR

Location: Los Angeles, California

Betting Line: Washington Huskies -3

UCLA Bruins 2023-24 Statistics:

Record: 6-10 (1-4)

Points For per Game: 63.4 ppg (338th)

Points Against per Game: 65.0 ppg (27th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 101.7 (237th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 95.9 (43rd)

Strength of Schedule: 61st

UCLA Key Players:

G- Dylan Andrews, So. 6’2, 180: 10.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 37.1% FG, 25.8% 3pt, 77.3% FT

Andrews is one of the few players that was at least part of the rotation last year and he is scoring and assisting more with the bigger role but doing so much less efficiently. He never gets a rebound or steals/blocks so it’s a ton of empty calories.

G- Sebastian Mack, Fr. 6’3, 20: 13.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 37.4% FG, 25.0% 3pt, 77.3% FT

The true freshman was a mid-four-star recruit but is leading UCLA in scoring which says something about UCLA. He’s not a threat from the outside but is extremely good at getting to the free throw line driving to the basket. He also has been very impressive getting steals for a freshman.

G- Lazar Stefanovic, Jr. 6’7, 190: 9.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 32.7% FG, 29.0% 3pt, 82.9% FT

Stefanovic was known as a solid wing shooter at Utah but that particular skill has dropped off since getting to Westwood this fall. He has always struggled to score inside and is shooting less than 35% on 2-pointers. He’s a solid rebounder and doesn’t turn the ball over but his value drops off in a big way when he can’t shoot.

F- Berke Buyuktuncel, Fr. 6’9, 245: 6.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 37.0% FG, 26.7% 3pt, 59.4% FT

The true freshman from Turkey has already missed 6 games due to injury but started 4 of the last 5 for the Bruins. He’s a solid offensive rebounder but has really struggled on the defensive glass for someone that is 6’9 and also struggles to score the basketball although that has gotten slightly better in conference play.

C-Adem Bona, So. 6’10, 245: 11.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 58.4% FG, 64.3% FT

The one returning stud was supposed to be Bona and he has mostly done as expected. He’s an elite defensive player and a very good offensive rebounder. He just isn’t the type of low post scorer you can give the ball to and trust he’ll get the ball in the basket. He is just about all of UCLA’s rim protection so when he gets in foul trouble, things can get ugly.

The Outlook

My preseason projections had UCLA 8th in the Pac-12 and I’ll admit that I assumed I must have gotten something wrong. How could the Bruins be that bad? They were supposedly enrolling some stud international freshmen and surely some of the 4-stars that couldn’t find playing time behind the likes of Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jacquez would break out, right?

It turns out my model was overselling them. UCLA is coming off the worst loss for the program in 25 years falling 90-44 at Utah on Thursday night. They have now dropped 8 of 9 games including home contests to Cal State Northridge and California with the one win coming at Oregon State.

The problems have almost all been on the offensive end of the court. They just flat out can’t score the basketball. Four of UCLA’s 5 starters are shooting below 40% from the field and below 30% from 3-point range. That’s just impossible. They rank 325th or worse nationally shooting the ball on both 2’s and 3’s. They both hardly take any 3’s and can’t make them when they do put up a shot. UCLA has only scored more than 70 points once against a team that ranks better than 320th at KenPom.

It makes sense given UCLA’s problems scoring the basketball that they play at one of the slowest tempos in the country. The goal is to muck things up as much as possible and play quality defense with Adem Bona patrolling the rim. Opponents make just 47% of 2-point shots against the Bruins and Bona is top-30 in the country in block rate.

And it’s not like opponents just barrage UCLA with 3’s because of that. The Bruins run people off the 3-point line and funnel them in to Bona who can try to contest the shot. Braxton Meah looked the most like his self from last year as he has all season and will need to do so again to help Washington play even down low.

The Huskies blew late leads in each of their last 2 road games and I don’t exactly trust their decision making down the stretch. But how can you pick against the Huskies when they just lost by 41 more points to the same opponent that UW did two weeks ago? There’s a chance that blowout embarrassed UCLA so badly it motivates them to give their best effort of the season. It’s also possible that Cronin has completely lost the locker room and they are 100% checked out. I’m hoping for the latter.

Prediction

My record this year: 12-4 Straight Up, 5-10-1 Against the Spread

Washington Huskies- 74, UCLA Bruins- 63