GAME NOTES: The Arizona State Sun Devils take aim at a third straight victory on Sunday, as they visit the UCLA Bruins for a Pac-12 Conference affair at Pauley Pavilion.
The Sun Devils have already been in Los Angeles for a few days, after routing USC at the Galen Center on Thursday, 79-60. The win was the second straight and sixth in the last seven games for Arizona State, which is 13-3 overall, which includes a 3-0 mark in true road tilts, although they return home for a major test against top-ranked Arizona next.
It is the same Arizona squad that UCLA lost to this past Thursday, as it hung with the Wildcats for a while before finally succumbing in a 79-75 decision. The loss ended a three-game win streak for the Bruins and was their first at home in 11 tries this season. They head out on the road for their next two games against Colorado and Utah.
UCLA knocked Arizona State out of the Pac-12 Tournament last year with an 80-75 victory in the quarterfinals. The Bruins have won six of the last seven meetings with the Sun Devils, and lead the all-time series by a convincing 63-18 margin.
Jordan Bachynski posted a double-double consisting of 20 points and 12 rebounds in Arizona State's recent win over USC. The Sun Devils limited the Trojans to 36.1 percent shooting and also forced 16 turnovers, while hitting 46.4 percent from the floor themselves.
The Bruins are very familiar with how productive Bachynski (12.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 4.8 rpg) can be. Last season, the 7-foot-2 center scored 22 points in two of the three bouts with UCLA, while grabbing 15 rebounds in the duel at Tempe. Bachynski has been even more of a force this season, especially on defense as he leads the nation in blocks. The bulk of the scoring still comes from guards Jahii Carson (18.6 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Jermaine Marshall (15.1 ppg), who form one of the more lethal backcourt duos in the conference. Carson poured in 18 points against USC, while Marshall struggled to get 10 on 3-of-10 shooting.
UCLA trailed by 13 (68-55) with just over six minutes left to play against Arizona, but rallied to take a lead with a 15-1 run down the stretch. However, the Bruins then fell victim to a 7-0 run from the Wildcats, which they never recovered from.
Jordan Adams (18.3 ppg) is one of the top scorers in the Pac-12, but he had real trouble getting off his shot against Arizona, netting just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. With their leading scorer struggling, the Bruins did not look like themselves offensively. For the season, they are ranked in the top-10 nationally in scoring (86.3 ppg), assists (18.5 apg) and field goal percentage (.518). Kyle Anderson (15.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 6.5 rpg) is the next best option, and his versatility can not be understated. Anderson finished with a line of 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against Arizona. Zach LaVine (12.2 ppg) and Normal Powell (10.7 ppg) have also proven themselves to be solid scoring threats for the Bruins.
Bachynski makes it difficult for teams to get points in close to the basket. While that advantage was obviously helpful against USC, it may not be so decisive against UCLA, especially if Adams can find his shooting touch.
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