UCLA doesn’t need a wake-up call for its wake-up call.
The Bruins are learning hard and fast the harsh realities of the Pac-10 season, as just a day after beating Washington State at Pauley Pavilion, 80-71, they are preparing for conference-favorite Washington, which needed overtime to survive at USC on Wednesday, 73-67.
“We’re the only BCS conference in the country that plays Thursday-Saturday, Wednesday-Friday,” head coach Ben Howland said on Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “It’s just harder. It’s harder for everybody. I was going to bed at 1 in the morning, and 36 hours later, we have another game.
“The Huskies could present a bigger difficulty for UCLA, given their overall offensive strength. While the Cougars were top-heavy with the Pac-10’s leading scorer in Klay Thompson (22.6 points per game) and key backup Faizel Aden (16.3 ppg), Washington’s scoring distribution trickles down to the far end of the bench.
The Huskies sport one of the conference’s most electric scoring guards in Isaiah Thomas (15.3 ppg) and get consistent production from forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning (14.2 ppg) and Justin Holiday (12.5 ppg), but 10 players average more than five points through 12 games.
“They have a number of players,” Howland said. “They can play big, which is how they start, then they can go smaller when they go (Darnell) Gant or (Justin) Holiday to the four. They have a lot of depth in the backcourt, and the thing that’s really impressive is how they can shoot the three.”
UCLA predictably let Thompson and Aden get theirs on Wednesday – Thompson leading all scorers with 26 points and Aden adding 19 – but the Bruins limited all other Cougars. Forward DeAngelo Casto had eight points, forward Brock Motum five, and point guard Reggie Moore had just five points after scoring 24 last season at Pauley Pavilion.
“I thought our play against Reggie Moore was fantastic,” Howland said. “He only had five points; that is really stunning. We did a really nice job. I feel really good about that win last night because I have a lot of respect about that team and what they’ve already done this season.”