UCLA (18-7) at Stanford (15-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maples Pavilion (7,329) -- Stanford, California. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UCLA 13-3, Stanford 10-3. Away Record: UCLA 3-2, Stanford 3-5. Neutral Record: UCLA 2-2, Stanford 2-2. Conference Record: UCLA 8-4, Stanford 6-6. Series Record: UCLA leads, 137-91.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams still in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid will hit the hardwood on Saturday afternoon when the UCLA Bruins clash with the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion.
For the Bruins, a NCAA Tournament invitation is almost a certainty although they haven't helped their cause with losses in three of their last five games. A 76-63 rout at California on Thursday hampered UCLA, which features an 18-7 overall record and a 7-4 mark against league foes.
Stanford's NCAA Tournament hopes are going to rely heavily on their play in the last six games of the regular season and the Pac-12 Tournament. The Cardinal are just 15-10 overall, which while solid, won't impress the selection committee. A heartbreaking 65-64 loss to USC on Thursday took a winnable game away from the Cardinal who need as much as help as possible during the stretch run.
In the first go-around between these teams in early January, UCLA took a 68-60 victory on its home floor. It was the fifth win in the last six meetings for UCLA, although Stanford took the last matchup at Maples Pavilion. UCLA leads the lengthy all-time series, 137-91.
UCLA was absolutely dominated in the first half by California and a late rally came up short. The Bruins trailed 47-22 going into the break after shooting just 30.3 percent from the field while allowing the Golden Bears to put in 58.8 percent. The Bruins did hit seven triples in the second half but they were also outscored, 46-20, in the paint over the course of the game.
On paper UCLA is the best offensive team in the conference and one of the best in the country. The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in points (75.5 pg), assists (17 apg) and field-goal percentage (.461) with each of those among the 50 best marks in the country. However the Bruins have been less prolific of late, failing to reach more than 70 points in four of the last seven games, including the loss to California. Shabazz Muhammad (18.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) had his fewest points in eight games against California with 13 on 4-of-13 shooting. Jordan Adams (14.7 ppg) and Travis Wear (12.0 ppg) flank Muhammad as double-figure scorers, while Pac-12 assist leader Larry Drew II (6.7 ppg, 7.7 apg) and Kyle Anderson (9.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.7 apg) fill out the talented starting five.
Despite a massive game from Dwight Powell (17 points, 17 rebounds), the Cardinal came up short against USC. Stanford clawed its way back from a 14-point deficit during the second half and with a Powell jumper with 26 seconds left came within a single point. However the Cardinal was unable to take advantage of a pair of missed free throws by USC, as Chasson Randle's buzzer-beater attempt was off the mark.
Powell (15.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg) has been playing out of his mind lately. He has posted four double-doubles in the last five games, while topping 20 points twice. The 17 rebounds he had against USC were the most since Brook Lopez ripped down 15 during the 2008 season. Randle (13.7 ppg) is shooting just 38.3 percent from the field this season but is the second-leading scorer. Josh Huestis (10.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg) is actually leading the team in minutes played, while teaming with Powell to form a powerful duo on the interior. Stanford does not rank as favorably on the offensive end as UCLA. The Cardinal are sixth in the Pac-12 in points (69.6 pg), while shooting the worst percentage from the floor (.414) among league teams. Stanford is also in the bottom half in assists (12 apg) and rebounds (36.9 rpg).
With all the talent they have the Bruins should be a lock for postseason play. However there have been too many games where they just look out of sync and never recover. Stanford is a team desperate for wins right now and might be able to slip past the Bruins.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stanford 72, UCLA 69
02/16 10:32:11 ET