UCLA vs. Arizona Prediction, Game Preview

    UCLA vs. Arizona prediction and game preview. The Bruins look to deal the Wildcats their first Pac-12 loss when they meet in Los Angeles on Saturday.

    January 20, 2017

    UCLA vs. Arizona prediction and game preview. The Bruins look to deal the Wildcats their first Pac-12 loss when they meet in Los Angeles on Saturday.

    UCLA vs. Arizona Game Preview

    When: Saturday, Jan. 21 – 4 p.m. ET
    Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles.
    TV Broadcast: CBS

    UCLA has won six in a row since losing on a last-second shot at Oregon on Dec. 28, and it has won easily most of the time. The Bruins had to survive an 83-82 contest at Utah last Saturday, but they routed Arizona State, 102-80, on Thursday. Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf get most of the attention, but Isaac Hamilton stole the show against the Sun Devils with 33 points while draining nine 3-pointers.

    Arizona has been even better, winning its last 11 games since falling to Gonzaga on Dec. 3. The Wildcats are 17-2 despite not having Allonzo Trier, who hasn’t played this season because of a failed PED test. Freshman Lauri Markkanen has been the catalyst and is coming off a 23-point effort in Thursday’s win over USC.

    UCLA Wins If …

    … Leaf and Thomas Welsh can contain Markkanen down low. Welsh and Markkanen are both 7-footers, but Markkanen has more talent, and Leaf will have to make up the difference by helping out defensively. If they can neutralize Markkanen, the Bruins should be able to stagnate Arizona’s offense.

    On the other end, UCLA needs to continue the same strategy, which is to go to the hot hand. Last time it was Hamilton, and maybe this time it’ll be Bryce Alford. Either way, Ball will find whoever is hitting while getting into the mix himself.

    Arizona Wins If …

    … it can force Ball into mistakes. The standout freshman doesn’t make many and ranks ninth in the nation with a 3.49-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Putting some pressure on Ball wouldn’t be the worst idea so long as the Wildcats can contain him and not let him dribble through it.

    Obviously Markkanen will be the main threat offensively, but fellow freshman Rawle Alkins getting back on track would help out a great deal. Alkins is shooting only 28.2 percent from the field over his last four games and needs to break out of his slump if the Bruins shut down Markkanen.

    Matchup To Watch

    Ball vs. Kobi Simmons

    Bot teams rely a lot on youth, and these two freshmen are big parts of the engines power each. Simmons doesn’t have the numbers Ball does – Ball ranks second in the nation in assists per game with 8.2 – but he’s got plenty of talent. A head-to-head matchup should be exiting to watch.

    Betting Odds

    Spread: UCLA -4
    Over/Under: No line as of post

    UCLA vs. Arizona Prediction

    Arizona has been great without Trier, and it’ll be even more dangerous should he suit up as he hopes to soon. But going against Ball, Leaf, Hamilton and Alford at home just doesn’t seem wise. UCLA will expose some of the Wildcats’ flaws and win going away.

    UCLA vs. Arizona final score prediction: UCLA 84, Arizona 74

    MORE: College Basketball Weekend Primer – Best Games, Best Bets


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