(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
After dominating Oregon to snap a two-game losing streak, Arizona State heads to Los Angeles this weekend for a pair of games against UCLA and USC.
On Friday night, UCLA is the target. The Bruins (10-15, 6-8 Pac-12) opened conference play well, but have since lost six of their last 8 games to fall to the middle of the conference standings. They are currently on a two-game losing streak after dropping back-to-back games to California and Stanford last weekend.
Arizona State (22-4, 11-3 Pac-12) managed to right the ship with a big win over an athletic Oregon team after losing to Oregon State and Cal in heartbreaking fashion. Promise Amukamara and Katie Hempen led the way for ASU, scoring 16 and 13 points respectively. Sophie Brunner grabbed 10 rebounds in an effort that helped contain one of the nation’s best rebounders, Jillian Alleyne.
The Sun Devils are now in third place in the Pac-12 and a win tonight would move them into a tie for second place with Stanford.
Keys to the Game:
-Promise Amukamara to Shut Down Nirra Fields
Junior guard Nirra Fields has been the one of the leaders for this young UCLA team all season. She leads the Bruins in scoring with 14.1 points per game, rebounding with 5.2 per game, and steals with 2.4 per game. Promise Amukamara, Arizona State’s premiere wing defender, should draw the task of containing Fields for the majority of the night.
-Put Pressure on the Bruins Offense
UCLA has struggled to find their offensive flow this season, averaging only 64.7 points per game while shooting only 38.5% from the floor, both marks ranked 10th in the conference. While ASU’s scoring offense hasn’t exactly been stellar, the Sun Devils scoring defense is the best in conference only allowing 56.0 points per game. If the Arizona State can avoid letting UCLA get out in transition like Cal did and put pressure on the Bruins’ half court sets, the game could turn into a blowout.
Plain and simple, Arizona State has not been shooting well as of late. Over their past three games, the Sun Devils have shot just 37.6% from the floor, well under their season average of 44.2%. It’s seemed as if the shots that ASU is typically used to making just haven’t been falling in recent outings. There’s no way to really explain it, sometimes teams just get into a funk, but the Sun Devils will definitely be looking to be more efficient on offense tonight.
There’s no reason why Arizona State should lose this game. They’ve played extremely well on the road this season including a 6-1 road record in Pac-12 play and look to be back on track after the win over Oregon. With a top four seed in the NCAA tournament and a home regional within reach, this team should be more focused than ever. The Sun Devils should be able to dominate UCLA and win this game by double-digits.
Tip-off is at 8:00 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.