Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats will look to duplicate their Thursday night success as they host the UCLA Bruins in a Pac-12 Conference bout Saturday at the McKale Center.
Arizona won for the third straight time Thursday when the Wildcats took down conference foe USC, 87-57. It was the third game in a row where the Wildcats won by at least 24 points. Arizona is now 11-2 against Pac-12 competition, and owns a perfect 14-0 record on its home court in 2014-15 and sports a 35-game homecourt winning streak overall.
UCLA saw a two-game win streak come to an end on Wednesday with a tight 68-66 defeat at the hands of Arizona State. The Bruins fell back to 8-6 against league foes, and will have to overcome a dismal 2-7 record on the road if they want to take down the Wildcats.
UCLA has a handle on the all-time series with Arizona, 53-38. This meeting will be the only one between the programs in this regular season. The last time these squads met was in the Pac-12 championship game last season, where UCLA won, 75-71.
Arizona State owned a three-point lead over UCLA with time winding down, but an Isaac Hamilton layup for the Bruins with eight seconds left cut the UCLA deficit to one. An ASU free throw with seven seconds remaining gave the Sun Devils a two-point advantage, and Hamilton's game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer didn't connect. Norman Powell led the way for the Bruins with 16 points. Bryce Alford and Kevon Looney chipped in with 14 points apiece. Hamilton contributed 13 points for the Bruins in the narrow loss.
UCLA possesses one of the better offenses in the Pac-12 this season, as the Bruins head into the weekend averaging 71.3 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting. The team is led by the senior guard Powell, who is netting 16.0 ppg to check in at sixth in the conference. Alford isn't too far behind, adding in 15.4 ppg with a team-best 141 assists on the season. Looney (12.5 ppg with a team-best 9.7 rpg), Hamilton (10.3 ppg) and Tony Parker (10.3 ppg) rounds out a group of five double-digit scorers for the Bruins this season. Outside of the team's starting lineup, there isn't much production for UCLA, which allows opponents to net 68.2 ppg.
Arizona played an extremely well-rounded game against USC on Thursday night, as the Wildcats walked away with a 30-point victory for their 11th win in conference play. The Wildcats connected on 47.7 percent of their shots from the floor, and held the Trojans to just 31.6 percent shooting in the contest. Six Arizona players scored in double figures in the win, led by 15 points and nine rebounds by Kaleb Tarczewski. Freshman Stanley Johnson added 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson chipped in with 12 and seven boards, while Brandon Ashley and Parker Jackson-Cartwright each tallied 11 points. T.J. McConnell closed out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and seven assists in just 19 minutes on the floor.
Johnson is projected to be a high lottery pick in the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft, but before that happens he's doing everything he can to get his Wildcats as far into the postseason as possible. With five games left in the regular season, he leads the team in scoring at 14.5 ppg, adding in a team high-tying 6.7 rpg. Ashley ranks second on the squad in scoring with 11.6 ppg, and Hollis-Jefferson checks in at third with 11.5 ppg and as the other player adding in 6.7 rpg. McConnell (9.8 ppg) is on the cusp of the double-digit scoring mark, adding in 6.0 apg to tie the conference lead with Washington's Nigel Williams-Goss. Arizona ranks second in the conference in scoring with 76.3 ppg, and is third in the league allowing only 59.2 ppg to opponents.