UCLA vs. Arizona: What to Watch

UCLA (21-7, 11-4) vs. No. 11 Arizona (23-5, 11-5)
Tipoff:
6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: ESPN/AM 570

At a glance: Both Arizona and UCLA need a win to boost their chances at a Pac-12 Championship. Oregon currently sits in first place at 12-4, and has road games left against Colorado and Utah. The Ducks, who now have point guard Dominic Artis again, likely won’t drop both.

As it stands, the Bruins can still claim a share of the conference title as long as they win out. Oregon’s head-to-head tiebreaker will give them the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament assuming UCLA finishes with the same record.

Arizona clearly isn’t the same team it was in the preseason; its scoring margin (+5.0) is still tops in conference play, but rebounding margin (+3.1) has slipped to third. Its defense has also been a sieve lately, even as the starting lineup has changed. Sean Miller ripped into his team after it allowed 52.2 percent shooting in the second half of a 73-56 win over Washington State. The message didn’t stick. Four days later, the Wildcats allowed USC to shoot over 60 percent in an 89-78 loss at the Galen Center.

Players to watch: Former sixth man Kevin Parrom has started the past four games for the Wildcats, and is averaging 11 points and 6.3 rebounds over that stretch. He’s been particularly hot from beyond the arc, 8 of his 12 attempts in the last two games combined. His move into the starting lineup has bumped Solomon Hill to the four-spot — something UCLA coach Ben Howland said was a difficult matchup.

Assist-to-turnover ratio has been lackluster for the Wildcats all season at just 1.0, and senior guard Mark Lyons had zero assists in January’s 84-73 loss to UCLA. (It was also one of the few games this season in which the Bruins won the rebounding battle.) Larry Drew II had nine assists for the Bruins then, and should be able to do the same this time around. That he shot 52.5 percent through February may attract some extra defensive attention too in his last game at Pauley Pavilion.

Travis Wear is probable after missing two games with a sprained foot, but UCLA freshman Kyle has piled in the stats in his stead. The point forward has strung together three games in double figures, including a career-high 21 on Wednesday against ASU.

ARIZONA STARTING LINEUP:
C – Kaleb Tarczewski, Fr., 7-0, 255, 6.5 pts, 5.6 reb, 0.6 blk
F – Solomon Hill, Sr., 6-7, 220, 13.9 pts, 5.3 reb, 2.6 ast
F – Kevin Parrom, Sr., 6-6, 220, 8.4 pts, 5.0 reb, 1.9 ast
G – Mark Lyons, Sr., 6-1, 200, 15.2 pts, 1.9 reb, 3.1 ast
G – Nick Johnson, So., 6-3, 200, 11.4 pts, 3.6 reb, 3.2 ast

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