UCLA (20-7, 10-4) vs. ASU (20-8, 9-6)
Tipoff: 8:30 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/AM 570
At a glance: UCLA had one of its worst games of the season against Arizona State, a 78-60 laugher in Tempe
Tucson that sucked all the goodwill from the Bruins’ upset of Arizona. Many players said they’re still using that game as motivation, similar to the way they did Sunday in avenging their home loss to USC.
ASU has been inconsistent, but needs a win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. Ben Howland said this week he expects the Sun Devils — projected as one of the last teams out of the field of 68 — to play with that sort of desperate attitude. Arizona State dominated the UCLA on the boards last month, posting an absurd +20 margin. The team will look to do something similar Wednesday night after being outrebounded by at least 13 in two of its past three games.
Point guard Jahii Carson is the conference’s second-leading freshman scorer after Shabazz Muhammad, but — like the UCLA star — hasn’t been at his best lately. Utah and Washington had success this month forcing him to drive into big men, both limiting the 5-10 guard to below 33 percent from the field.
Players to watch: Jordan Bachynski had the game of his life last time out against UCLA, dropping 22 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks on the Bruins in the blowout. He hasn’t come close since. Inconsistent all season, the 7-foot-2 center has grabbed more than three rebounds in just three of his past eight games. Fellow 7-footer Ruslan Pateev even started in his place against Washington last week.
Plenty of eyes will be on UCLA’s Tony Parker as he comes off an eight-point first half at USC, and how he does against Bachynski should help measure his ability to contribute down the home stretch.
The matchup between Carrick Felix and Muhammad is also worth watching. Felix is ASU’s most important player, and abused the Bruins in the paint for 23 points and 11 rebounds. He’s also one of the conference’s better defenders, and could frustrate Muhammad as the freshman nears full recovery from pink eye.
ASU STARTING LINEUP:
C – Jordan Bachynski, 7-2, 250, Jr., 9.4 pts, 6.4 reb, 2.7 blk
F – Jonathan Gilling, 6-7, 219, So., 9.6 pts, 6.5 reb, 2.9 ast
F – Carrick Felix, 6-6, 197, Sr., 14.3 pts, 8.0 reb, 1.5 stl
G – Evan Gordon, 6-1, 187, Jr., 11.0 pts, 2.8 reb, 2.1 ast
G – Jahii Carson, 5-10, 175, Fr., 17.5 pts, 3.1 reb, 5.0 ast