The Huskies split a pair of games against Arizona and show signs of new hope following their horrific downward spiral in four straight losses. The Bruins of UCLA have been streaky, much as the Dawgs, but overall are performing much better and have the advantage of several stellar freshman players with big time potential.
Most recently, the Bruins upstaged the Arizona Wildcats on their own court in an 11 point whooping that not many saw coming despite UCLA’s recent hot streak. Sadly, for the Bruins, they have suffered a few let downs as of late including a somewhat embarrassing 4 point overtime loss to rival USC. However, the Bruins are still in contention for the title after the Oregon Ducks dropped a pair of games against the Bay Area schools and are certainly motivated to continue their dominance of the Dawgs in the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins are a freakishly large team for college, even at the DI level. Their roster currently sports 4 players standing 6-10 and even have 6-9 Kyle Anderson, a guard. Size at the guard like that just isn’t common, even at the NBA level.
Shabazz Muhammad has exploded entering the conference season after early season setbacks due to NCAA eligibility issues. A few games was all it took to shake off the rust and since that time is now averaging nearly 19 points per game along with 5 rebounds and nearly 43% from behind the arc. At 6-6 225lb, Muhammad is a tough, physical guy with range and strength to blow past or through his defenders.
6-9 235lb Kyle Anderson is freakishly tall for a guard and presents a very tough match-up in the backcourt for UW. Anderson leads the Bruins in rebounds per games with 9 a night and nearly 10 points a game. While his inside presence is indeed strong, his outside game leaves a bit to be desired and is currently hitting less than 20% of his long range attempts.
The Wear twins, David and Travis, both stand at 6-10 230lb. Travis averages about 8 minutes more a game than his brother and is generally considered the better player of the pair. Together the duo combine for 20 points and 11 rebounds a night. Both are capable of playing physical ball at the rim, but Travis excels in extending the defense and hitting a few 3′s.
The other explosive freshman on the Bruin roster is 6-5 220lb Jordan Adams who is averaging an amazing 15 points, 4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. The kid is a stat sheet stuffer and on any other team he would easily be considered a star freshman, yet he has the misfortune to be playing alongside a guy who may very well end up as the number 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
The Huskies will have to mend their defensive issues that had led to their 4 straight defeats and build on the successes they found in the early conference season and the games against the Arizona schools. Hitting free throws and limiting second chance opportunities will be critical if the Dawgs want to steal a win on the road. The Huskies cannot afford to commit 15-20 turnovers against the Bruins, a high scoring and skilled team that can easily take advantage of poor ball control.
If the Huskies want to bolster their NCAA resume and have a chance at breaking the bubble and earning an at large bid to the big dance, time and opportunities are running out. At this point in the season, one has to imagine that wins over UCLA, UA, and UO are a must if the Dawgs have a chance to earn an outside shot at an at large big. Only 4 such chances remain and my personal best guess is that 2 wins plus winning the remainder of the games will give the Dawgs a low seed, but a bid none the less.