After breaking back into the national rankings the UCLA Bruins will head to Beasley Coliseum for a Pac-12 Conference tilt with the Washington State Cougars on Wednesday night.
In the first three weeks of the season UCLA was a top-15 team but they fell out of the top-25 at the end of November. UCLA then resurfaced in the top 25 in mid-January but was ousted the following week. After winning four-straight contests, including a 74-69 win over then-No. 11 Arizona the now 23rd-ranked Bruins regained their spot in the national rankings. UCLA has also risen up the Pac-12 standings and is now tied with No. 19 Oregon at 12-4 for the conference lead with just two games to play.
Washington State is on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. The Cougars have lost eight-straight games to fall to 11-18 overall. That includes the Pac-12's worst league mark (2-14). Washington State's only conference victories came against Oregon State and Utah who are each just a game ahead of the Cougars in the conference standings. Washington State ends the regular season on Saturday against USC.
There has been zero parity in this all-time series. UCLA has won 102 of 116 total meetings including each of the last eight matchups. The Bruins grabbed a 76-62 victory at Pauley Pavilion earlier this season.
In its win over Arizona, the Bruins took a 5-4 lead with 17:09 remaining in the first half and never trailed again. They led by as many as 14 points behind 18 points from Shabazz Muhammad. UCLA forced 16 turnovers and 11 steals and outscored the Wildcats 32-26 in the paint.
The offensive end of the floor has posed no problem for the Bruins this season. UCLA ranks at the very top of the Pac-12 in scoring (76 pg), assists (17.2 pg) and field-goal percentage (.463). Each of those marks is among the top 50 in the country including their assists total which ranks fifth nationally. Muhammad (18.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) is one of most versatile scorers in the conference and has largely lived up to the hype in his freshman season. Jordan Adams (15.0 ppg) is a fantastic scorer in his own right. Kyle Anderson (10.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.7 apg) is a matchup nightmare for teams with his height (6-foot-9) and versatility. Larry Drew II (7.3 ppg, 7.8 apg) leads the Pac-12 in assists, while Travis Wear (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) adds some more offensive punch.
Washington State led by five points midway through its battle with Washington but a 17-4 run from the Huskies sank the Cougars. The Cougars did shoot 51.2 percent from the field, while hitting nine shots from long range in the game but were also guilty of 18 turnovers. That led to a 25-7 deficit in points off takeaways.
Not only have the Cougars been on the opposite end of the spectrum record-wise in comparison to UCLA, they have also been there in offensive efficiency. The Cougars are ranked 11th in the league in both points (63.8 pg) and field-goal percentage (.425) and are last in the league in rebounds (32.9 pg). Brock Motum (17.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg) paces the Cougars offensively and is the third leading scorer in the Pac-12. DaVonte Lacy (10.5 ppg) and Royce Woolridge (10.2 ppg) are each decent scorers though neither has been particularly prolific. The offensive effort from the Cougars has lost some punch recently with Mike Ladd (11.4 ppg) missing the last five games with left knee irritation.