Fresno State (5-6) at UCLA (8-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: New Pauley Pavilion (13,800) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Fresno State 2-3, UCLA 6-1. Away Record: Fresno State 3-3, UCLA 0-0. Neutral Record: Fresno State 1-1, UCLA 2-2. Conference Record: Fresno State 0-0, UCLA 0-0. Series Record: UCLA leads, 6-0.
GAMES NOTES: The UCLA Bruins will look to extend a season-long win streak on Saturday night when they host the Fresno State Bulldogs in an intrastate duel at the New Pauley Pavilion.
Instead of extending a winning streak, Fresno State will be trying to put a stop to a losing skid after the Bulldogs lost their third straight in a 58-51 decisions to UC Irvine last Saturday. With the loss the Bulldogs dropped below .500 (5-6) for the first time this season. Fresno State has split its first six games on the road including a win over Cal Poly, which took down UCLA earlier this season. Fresno State will play a primer against Sonora State in its next contest before a showdown with nationally ranked San Diego State on Jan. 9.
Rumors of UCLA's demise may have been exaggerated. The Bruins, who tumbled out of the national rankings earlier this season have gotten back on track with wins in their last four games, including an 89-70 rout of Long Beach State on Tuesday. With the win the Bruins are now 8-3 overall, including a 6-1 mark in the renovated Pauley Pavilion. UCLA will play its next three games at home including its Pac-12 opener against California on Jan. 3.
Although both of these programs reside in the Golden State, this will be only the seventh meeting between them. UCLA has won the previous six matchups with the last one ending in a 110-89 victory during the 1990-91 season.
In yet another low-scoring affair, Fresno State couldn't muster enough offense to take down UC Irvine. The Bulldogs hit a miserable 25.5 percent of their field goal attempts including a 3-of-16 effort from beyond the arc. Fresno State was outscored 26-16 on points in the paint and 20-7 on second chance points. The Bulldogs did manage an edge in points off turnovers (21-11). Allen Huddleston scored a team-high 12 points for Fresno State but turned the ball over five times.
By holding the Anteaters to 58 points the Bulldogs kept an opponent below 60 points for the sixth straight game and eighth overall. Fresno state is limiting foes to the 12th fewest points per game (55.8) in the nation on an even 40.0 percent shooting. The Bulldogs also allow only 8.7 assists per game which is the seventh best mark in the country. For all their defensive strengths, the Bulldogs have not been able to figure it out on the offensive end. Fresno State is scoring only 58.3 points per game on 37.8 percent shooting. Like it's competition Fresno State hasn't moved the ball well with the team second to last nationally in assists (8.5 pg). Huddleston (11.7 ppg) has been the only consistent double-figure scorer for the Bulldogs. However Huddleston has not been efficient, as he nets only 35.8 percent of his field goal attempts. Tyler Johnson (9.0 ppg) is the second option, while Kevin Foster (6.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) leads on the glass.
The Bruins were steady in the 19-point victory over LBSU. UCLA shot at a 58.9 percent clip in the game. UCLA also had a 16-5 edge in points off turnover and a 31-26 advantage on the boards. Jordan Adams was the standout performer in the game, scoring 24 points.
UCLA has had no trouble putting points on the board, ranking 25th in the nation in scoring (78.5 ppg), while ranking in the top 35 in field goal percentage (47.5). Getting the ball to open shooters has been the key for the Bruins who hand out 17.8 assists per game, the ninth best mark nationally. Running the offense is Larry Drew (6.1 ppg, 8.4 apg), who while not a scorer, has been one of the best distributors in the country. Drew currently ranks third in the nation in assists and has dropped at least nine in a contest six times, including three times with more than 10 assists. Talented freshman Shabazz Muhammad (17.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has gotten much of the attention and praise for UCLA as the team's top scorer, but Adams (15.7 ppg) has been just as vital to the Bruins' efforts. Travis Wear (10.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is a solid scorer when called upon. Kyle Anderson (8.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg) leads the team on the boards.
With how well Drew gets the ball to his scorers and the way Adams and Muhammad can put points up the Bruins will be able to handle Fresno State. The Bulldogs don't have enough offensive firepower of their own to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 77, Fresno State 60
12/22 10:46:28 ET