UCLA (16-4) at Arizona State (15-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wells Fargo Arena (10,754) -- Tempe, Arizona. Television: FSN, MSG+. Home Record: UCLA 11-2. ASU 12-2. Away Record: UCLA 3-0, ASU 2-1. Neutral Record: UCLA 2-2, ASU 1-1. Conference Record: UCLA 5-1, ASU 4-2. Series Record: UCLA leads, 61-17.
GAMES NOTES: The UCLA Bruins will roll into Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night, fresh off a win over No. 6 Arizona, to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in a Pac-12 matchup.
UCLA went into the McKale Center, where Arizona had yet to lose this season, and looked unconcerned en route to a convincing 84-73 victory over the sixth- ranked Wildcats. The Bruins are now 16-4 through the first 20 games of the season, while posting a 6-1 mark against league foes. That conference ledger has the Bruins just a half-game back of No. 16 Oregon for the top spot in the standings. UCLA, which has won all three of its true road tests, will be home for three straight after this contest.
Arizona State got more than it bargained for against USC on Thursday, but managed to survive with a 98-93 victory in overtime. With the win, the Sun Devils bounced back from a two-game slide and improved to 15-4 overall on the season. In league play the Sun Devils are 4-2 which puts them in a three-way tie for third place with Arizona and Washington. The Sun Devils are 12-2 at Wells Fargo Arena this season but will play their next two on the road against Washington State and Washington.
In the last two seasons UCLA has earned series sweeps against Arizona State. That falls in line with the historical trend as the Bruins have dominated the all-time series with a 61-17 mark against the Sun Devils.
UCLA trailed for just the first 53 seconds against Arizona but after taking a 3-1 lead never trailed again en route to the 11-point victory. The Bruins led by as many as 16 points in the contest and turned in a 47.8 percent shooting effort, while holding Arizona under 40 percent.
Shabazz Muhammad (18.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) continued his torrid freshman season by pouring in 23 points against Arizona. The 6-foot-6 swingman looked unfazed in a hostile environment against a ranked opponent, as he scored more than 20 points for the ninth time this season. Aiding Muhammad was Jordan Adams (15.2 ppg), who has been no stranger to piling up points as well. Travis Wear (12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is the third member of the team scoring in double figures, while Larry Drew (5.9 ppg, 8.2 apg) has been stellar at the point leading the conference in assists by nearly three per game. Kyle Anderson (9.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.6 apg) is a player that doesn't get a ton of headlines but his production across the board is invaluable.
Arizona State led for the majority of the second half but was never able to pull away against USC. The Sun Devils had a five-point lead with 18 seconds remaining but a missed free throw by Carrick Felix opened the door for the Trojans, who forced overtime on a buzzer beating 3-pointer. In the extra session the Sun Devils nailed a pair of triples and then hit 7-of-8 shots from the free-throw line to pull out the victory.
Muhammad hasn't been the only freshman playing at a high level in the Pac-12. Jahii Carson (17.5 ppg, 5.1 apg) has been sensational in just his first season with the Sun Devils. The 5-foot-10 guard ranks in the top five in the conference in both scoring and assists. Felix (14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg) has also been producing with his ability to score and rebound. The 6-foot-6 swingman has racked up six double-double on the season and has failed to score in double figures just twice. Evan Gordon (11.1 ppg) and Jordan Bachynski (9.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) provide addition depth in scoring, with Bachynski also anchoring the defense as the Pac-12's leading shot blocker (4.2 bpg).
Two of the best freshmen in the Pac-12 and the country as a whole for that matter square off in this contest. Carson and the Sun Devils have yet to prove it can hang with the top of the Pac-12 though with losses already this season to Arizona and Oregon. On their home floor the Sun Devils will be tough to deal with, but UCLA will ultimately win out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 76, Arizona State 73
01/26 10:33:55 ET