College Basketball Game Of The Week: No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 7 UCLA
A huge PAC-12 battle takes place on Tuesday night, Jan. 25 at 11:00 p.m. eastern time as the No. 3 Arizona Wildcats head to Pauley Pavilion to battle Johnny Juzang and No. 7 UCLA.
The original contest between these two teams was supposed to take place on Dec. 30, 2021, but was postponed at the time. Now, the wait will be worth it as these two top ten teams will battle each other twice over the next two weeks.
UCLA was able to defeat Arizona in all five of its last matchups. Two of those victories were last year in the regular season in two tight battles. UCLA leads the all-time series against Arizona by a 61-44 margin.
So with UCLA having the advantage recently, what will have to happen for the higher-ranked Wildcats to defeat the Bruins.
The Wildcats are off to a hot start this season with only one loss on their season so far coming to No. 19 Tennessee at the time. Additionally, this team has only played another ranked game this season against Michigan who has had a very underwhelming season at this point.
In their only loss of the season, the Wildcats struggled to take care of the ball with 17 turnovers in the game compared to Tennessee's 13.
UCLA defensively won’t force many turnovers, but they are precise with its possessions this season as they rank No. 15 in the nation in assist-turnover ratio. If the Wildcats are not careful with the ball, they can find UCLA is starting to build a lead on them with its offense.
This game will be a tough grinded-out game for both teams, but the main battle will be who can stop the other team’s top scorers.
For the Bruins, they will have to have all hands on deck as soon as Bennedict Mathurin steps out on the court for the Wildcats. He is averaging 17.5 points per game this year on 49.3% shooting from the field, as well as 38.6 from 3-point land.
Mathurin has five games this year with 25 points or more with a season-high of 30 against Illinois. Mathurin will have to look for this kind of scoring to carry his team to victory.
For the Wildcats, on the other hand, they will have to hold two players in check in this game: Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. Last year, Jaquez Jr. in the previous matchup between these two teams had 25 points in the game to lift the Bruins over the Wildcats. Jaquez Jr. may have figured out the Wildcats last year, but it’s a new year for both teams.
However, the Wooden Award watch list player Juzang is going to have the attention all over the court.
Juzang is averaging 18.3 points per game this year, but he is primed to break out any game as seen in last year’s NCAA tournament. Juzang hasn’t had to do all the scoring for his team to be a threat this year, he has more help around him with three other teammates averaging double digits this year.
Both teams are going to battle it out in this game, and the winner will get a rank-boosting win that could catapult them and the PAC-12 to the top of the rankings next week.
Dale Ostrander is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.