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ASU Men’s Basketball: UCLA preview

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

The Arizona State Sun Devils, coming off of their biggest win in conference play, look to extend their success at home against the UCLA Bruins.

ASU defeated the No. 23 USC Trojans 74-67 at home in its last game thanks to a strong second-half surge and strong defense. The Sun Devils took the lead after a 10-2 run to start the second half and never trailed again.

Sophomore guard Tra Holder led the way for ASU, scoring 20 points. His 20-point game was the seventh time he reached the mark this season.

Junior forward Savon Goodman also had an excellent game for ASU, scoring 17 points and adding six rebounds.

The win against USC was their fourth win in Pac-12 play and a confidence booster for a Sun Devil team that still sits at 11th in the conference.

UCLA, on the other hand, is in a bit of a slump after dropping four of its last five games in conference play. The Bruins lost a close road game to No. 17 Arizona in their last game and have struggled to defend against Pac-12 opponents.

At 4-7 in the Pac-12, UCLA is sitting tied for 10th and its chances of making the NCAA tournament are fading fast. Any chance of salvaging their season starts with a win against ASU in Tempe.

Keys to the Game

Stopping the offensive flow

The main area that UCLA excels in is scoring through assists. The Bruins are tied for the conference lead with 16 assists per game. They pass the ball as well as any team in the conference.

To beat the Bruins, ASU will have to exhibit the type of defensive performance they put on against USC. In that game, the Sun Devils forced 17 turnovers and limited the Trojans to just 67 points for the game.

Clogging passing lanes and being active on defense will be key for stopping the excellent passing of the Bruin offense.

Knock down shots

In their losses this season, ASU has struggled to shoot the ball well enough to win the close games. Although they sit as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the Pac-12 by percentage, the Sun Devils are second in made three-pointers.

ASU has taken 45 more three-pointers than any other team in the conference and they live by it more than any other factor on the court. Should their shots fall, ASU is a tough team to beat.

It will be up to the Sun Devil guards to create open looks for other players and knock down their open shots in the game. Holder and sophomore guard Kodi Justice both shoot above 40 percent and will have to shoot well against UCLA to grind out a win.

Grabbing defensive boards

The way that UCLA generates a portion of their offense is through crashing the offensive glass. They average 13 offensive rebounds per game and this helps them generate a good percentage of their 79 points per game.

Keeping the Bruins from gaining second-chance points would significantly help to lower their point total in the game. Maximizing possession gives the Sun Devils more chances to score and limits opportunities for UCLA.

Getting defensive rebounds can also help the Sun Devils push the ball and gain transition points on the break. A strong inside presence and securing the glass will play a big role in the outcome of the game.

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