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March 3, 2011Matchup: UCLA Bruins (21-8, 12-4) vs. Washington Huskies (19-9, 10-6)
Tip: Thursday, 6:00 PM at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle, WA.
TV, radio: Thursday's game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with Miles Simon, Dave Flemming, and Sean Farnham. The game can be also heard on the radio on KJR 950-AM.
Coaches: Lorenzo Romar, Washington (ninth year); Ben Howland, UCLA (ninth year).
Series: UCLA leads the all-time series 91-38, but the Huskies won earlier this season against UCLA in the second conference game of the season, 74-63, in Los Angeles.
About the Huskies: The Huskies are coming off their first home loss of the season, dropping Sunday night's game to cross-state rival Washington State. Washington is looking to bounce back and finish the regular season on a winning note, but the Huskies will have the tough task of playing UCLA and USC to finish out. UW had one of its worst offensive performances of the season against the Cougars on Sunday, shooting less than 34 percent from the field, and committing 16 turnovers. The Huskies could use the help of junior guard Scott Suggs, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, but did practice on Tuesday. Suggs leads the Pac-10 in 3-point shooting percentage at 45.5 percent on the season, and his presence on the perimeter could open things up for Isaiah Thomas, who has been the main threat on offense for the Huskies. UW needs to keep its hopes of making the NCAA tournament alive this week, and a win over the Bruins on Thursday night would go a long way in stating their case to the tournament selection committee.
About the Bruins: UCLA enters Thursday's game tied for first place in the Pac-10 with Arizona. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats in their last meeting, 71-49, and seem to be playing their best basketball right now. UCLA failed to crack the top 25 this week by only a few votes, but its recent performance suggests this team is going to be a force in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins are led by forward Reeves Nelson, who averages 14.0 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game. Malcolm Lee has been a consistent scoring threat on the perimeter for UCLA, averaging 13.3 points per game, and Tyler Honeycutt may be the most talented of the bunch. Honeycutt is averaging 12.8 points per game, and has been drawing the attention of NBA scouts with his superior athleticism. Former Kentwood big man, Joshua Smith, has improved much throughout his freshman year and is now averaging double figures with 10.8 points per game with 6.2 rebounds.
Projected starters for UCLA:
G Lazeric Jones 6-0 187 Jr. Chicago, Ill. 9.9 ppg, 3.7 apg
GMalcolm Lee 6-5 200 Jr. Moreno Valley, Calif. 13.3 ppg, 2.1 apg
CJoshua Smith 6-10 305 Fr. Seattle, Wash. 10.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg
FTyler Honeycutt 6-8 188 So. Las Angeles, Calif. 12.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg
F Reeves Nelson 6-8 235 So. Modesto, Calif. 14.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg
Projected starters for Washington:
G Isaiah Thomas 5-9 185 Jr. Tacoma, Wash. 16.9 ppg, 5.8 apg
GC.J. Wilcox 6-5 190 Fr. Pleasant Grove, Utah 7.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
C Aziz N'Diaye 7-0 260 So. Dakar, Senegal 5.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Justin Holiday 6-6 185 Sr. Chatsworth, Calif. 11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg
F Matthew Bryan-Amaning 6-9 240 Sr. London, England 16.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg
UDubSports.com pick: Washington, 80-78.