The 23rd-ranked UCLA Bruins take aim at a share of the Pac-12 title as they close out the regular-season with a showdown with the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Ben Howland's Bruins are tied atop the league standings with Oregon at 12-5 with just a single game left on the docket. UCLA certainly made things tougher on itself this week with a stunning 73-61 road loss at Washington State, ending a four-game win streak for the team, which looks to win its fourth regular-season title under Howland. With a win here, the Bruins will beat out the Ducks for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Washington isn't playing for a conference crown, but there is still seeding in the tournament left to be determined, as the Huskies could come in anywhere from fifth to the eighth seed when the smoke clears this weekend. UW has certainly done its part of late to earn a higher seeding, winning three straight games coming into the season finale, including a 65-57 decision over USC this week.
UCLA has won the last two meetings and holds a sizable 93-40 advantage in the all-time series, but Washington has won eight straight against the Bruins at home. UCLA is seeking the regular-season sweep after earning a hard-fought 59-57 victory at home on Feb. 7.
Big man Travis Wear has been sidelined the last few games with a foot injury and is listed as doubtful for the finale. However, twin brother David has filled the void in the starting lineup, averaging 8.8 points and 7.5 rebounds over the last four games. Still, this is a UCLA squad fueled by the freshmen trio of Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson, who account for 55 percent of the team's offense. Muhammad has certainly lived up to his billing coming in, leading the Bruins in scoring at 18.1 ppg. Adams can also fill up the basket at 15.1 ppg, followed by Anderson's 10.1 ppg. Larry Drew II (7.3 ppg) has certainly proved to be a vital piece to the puzzle at the point, ranking first in the Pac-12 in assists (7.8 apg).
The Bruins fell behind by 11 points at halftime against Washington State and were unable to dig themselves out over the final 20 minutes. Adams led three Bruins in double figures in the loss with 18 points. Muhammad added 14 points to the cause, while Norman Powell came off the bench to tally 10.
The Huskies were nip and tuck with USC for much of the contest this week, but distanced themselves by going 17-of-18 from the free-throw line in the second half. Scott Suggs continued his torrid pace with a team-high 18 points. Jernard Jarreau added 12 points off the bench, while C.J. Wilcox finished with 11 points. Aziz N'Diaye struggled offensively going 1-of-9 from the floor with just two points, but he did grab a game-high 11 rebounds.
Wilcox leads the way offensively for Washington this season at 17.1 ppg, but Suggs (11.9 ppg) has really stepped up his play of late, averaging 19.0 ppg over the last three games. Abdul Gaddy rounds out the team's top scorers at 11.0 ppg and also serves as the team's top distributor (4.3 apg). On the season, Washington is averaging 67.8 ppg, on a modest .435 shooting.