No. 5 Arizona Basketball kicks off final LA road trip against UCLA

Jan 20, 2024; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Pelle Larsson (3) shoots a basket against
Jan 20, 2024; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Pelle Larsson (3) shoots a basket against / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES, CA – Traveling to Southern California for the last time as a Pac-12 member, No. 5 Arizona Basketball (23-6, 14-4) takes on UCLA (14-15, 9-9).

One last dance! Facing each other one last time as Pac-12 foes, No. 5 Arizona Basketball will take on UCLA on Thursday evening for a final showdown with the UCLA Bruins.

And returning to the hardwood, the Wildcats should have a tough challenge as they take on the talented, but inconsistent Bruins team in Westwood.

Coming in, UCLA has tons of talent but for whatever reason, things have not gone well this year for the Bruins, and regardless of their record, we expect a fight in this one when these two teams square off.

Hopefully, we see Arizona come and ready to go in this one, and should the Wildcats bring the focus and take care of business, they shouldn't have too much trouble against the Bruins!

Getting to know the details about Arizona Basketball’s opponent, the UCLA Bruins.

Team: UCLA Bruins

Conference: Pac-12 Conference

Current Record: 14–15 (9–9)

Head Coach: Mick Cronin. Entering his 21st season as a head coach (5th with UCLA), Coach Cronin is currently 113–51 (67–28) with the Bruins with three NCAA Tournament appearances, two Sweet 16 finishes, and a Final Four appearance in 2020-21. 

Before arriving in Westwood, Mick was head coach at Murray State (2003-06) where he was 69–24 (42–10) with two NCAA Tournament appearances. After that, he had a long stint with Cincinnati, coaching the Bearcats to a 296–147 (135–87) record from 2006-19 with 11 Tournament appearances (9 NCAA). Overall, he is 478–222 as a head coach. 

2022-23 Record: Finishing the 2022-23 season with a 31–6 (18–2) record, the Bruins ended their year with a Sweet 16 loss in the NCAA Tournament to 3rd-seeded Gonzaga in a close battle.

So, as Arizona Basketball takes on UCLA, here is how you can watch and follow our Wildcats!

Arizona Basketball vs UCLA Information and Details:

Date: Thursday, March 7, 2024

Time: 7:30 P.M. MST / 6:30 P.M. PST

Television: ESPN

Location: Pauley Pavilion – Los Angeles, CA (12,829)

Spread: -9.0 Arizona (Don’t forget to sign up with Caesars Sportsbook or DraftKings to enhance your overall betting experience)

Overall Series Record: 60-49 UCLA. Sadly, this will be the last time these two teams meet as Pac-12 foes in what has been a fierce and competitive rivalry. Dating back to as early as 1922-23, these two programs have battled on the hardwood, in recruiting, etc. for quite some time, creating one of the most unique rivalries in college basketball. 

Currently, UCLA owns a 60-49 advantage; however, Arizona has won five of the last six meetings. Sadly, this will be the last time they meet inside Pauley Pavilion as conference rivals.

Last Meeting: Meeting three times last season, Arizona split the regular season matchups against the Bruins, but it was the Wildcats who got the last laugh, beating UCLA 61-59 to win the Pac-12 Tournament title. 

Arizona Basketball Game Preview:

Arizona scored two huge wins against Arizona State and Washington last week but now isn't the time to get complacent. If the Wildcats hope to win the Pac-12 Conference outright, they will likely need to sweep this week against the Los Angeles schools.

Coming in, Arizona should have the advantage against the Bruins, but as we saw the last time these two teams played, UCLA has the talent to win, plus, you never know what can happen in rivalry games.

Despite their record, the Bruins have a lot of skill and talent, and to me, it just depends on which UCLA team decides to show up in this one.

Largely led by freshman guard Sebastian Mack and sophomore big man Adem Bona, the Bruins have a nice, one-two scoring punch, averaging 12.8 points, and 12.2 points respectively.

Beyond them, Lazar Stefanovic and Dylan Andrews have come along nicely this year as well, and together, they account for over 70 percent of their production.

Offensively, the Bruins are not a prolific scoring team by any means, averaging just 66.2 points per game. And playing at a slower pace, the Bruins are not a great shooting team either, shooting just 41.7 percent from the field, including 31.8 percent from three. 

However, where they excel the most is on defense. This is a group that is holding opponents to 65.5 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting. 

While Arizona should have the advantage overall, we expect the Bruins to give the Cats a fight again in this one, so look for UCLA to try and slow this one down and make it ugly.

And if Arizona is to win, they will need to bring the effort and intensity, and not let UCLA get hot from the field to start like they did the last time they met.

Hopefully, the Wildcats will be ready to go in this one and begin their LA trip with a big win over the Bruins. Tip-off for Thursday's game against UCLA is set for 7:30 P.M. Tucson time, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Next. Pac-12 Basketball Power Rankings: 'Cats rolling to No. 1 seed, Colorado/Utah on the cusp, UCLA slips. Pac-12 Basketball Power Rankings: 'Cats rolling to No. 1 seed, Colorado/Utah on the cusp, UCLA slips. dark

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