UCLA Bruins at (17) Arizona Wildcats (-11.5)
The Arizona Wildcats (19-5, 7-4 Pac-12) have a huge matchup against USC this Sunday, but the team can’t get caught overlooking tonight’s tilt with the stumbling UCLA Bruins (13-10, 4-6 Pac-12) when they clash at the McKale Center in a late PAC-12 matchup (8:00 PM Eastern).
Arizona has won three straight coming into this game, and currently have the third-best record in the Pac-12 at 7-4, behind only Oregon (9-2) and USC (7-3). Despite that, the Wildcats rank ahead of the Trojans in the AP Poll.
With 22 points and 15 rebounds from Ryan Anderson, the Wildcats earned a third straight victory by beating the Washington Huskies, 77-72, last Saturday. Anderson’s 22-point effort came just days after he put up 31 in a win over Washington State.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been focusing on the details with our bigs and the little things we can get better at individually have helped us be successful,” Anderson said to the Associated Press after the win against the Huskies.
Anderson leads Arizona with 16.2 points per game, but the supporting cast has chipped in nicely, as well. Seven Wildcats are scoring at least 8.0 PPG, which has the team, as a whole, averaging 81.2 points per night, 24th in the nation.
UCLA should be no match for Arizona in their own house: the Wildcats are 14-2 at home this season, while the Bruins have lost four of the last six games, including a 19-point setback against USC last Thursday.
“We came out slow and it really hurt us,” the Bruins’ Aaron Holliday told the AP after the loss. “We’re down nine and we couldn’t get into a flow. I felt like we played defensively pretty well. We just kept missing shots. They’d get misses, turnovers and easy buckets.”
UCLA is 4-6 against PAC-12 opponents; they’re averaging a solid 79.3 points per game for the year, but surrendering a concerning 77 per night. The team has posted some impressive wins on the year, including an 87-84 win over this same Wildcats squad, an 87-77 win over Kentucky, and a 71-66 win over Gonzaga.
But those all came much earlier in the season and the Bruins have taken a few wrong turns since then. Given that Arizona has generally dominated UCLA at home recently (5-2 SU in the last seven) and has been a solid bet as a home favorite (8-2 ATS in the last ten), roll with the Wildcats.
Pick: Arizona (-11.5).
(Photo credit: Bradjward (Originally uploaded to Flickr. Photo has been cropped.)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/].)