GAME NOTES: A spot in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament championship game hangs in the balance, as the second-seeded UCLA Bruins go up against the sixth- seeded Stanford Cardinal on Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
UCLA, which certainly didn't end the regular season on a high note, losing to Washington State (73-55), got the postseason started off in style. The second- seeded Bruins rolled over Oregon, 82-63, to claim some revenge for a loss in the Pac-12 title tilt from a year ago.
Stanford earned an important win in the quarterfinals, which might have done much more than just propel it forward in this tournament. The Cardinal finished off third-seeded Arizona State in convincing fashion to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume' and improve to 21-11 overall.
This will serve as the rubber match between these two teams. In the regular season, UCLA rolled to a 91-74 victory at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 23, but a month later, Stanford returned the favor with an 83-74 triumph at Maples Pavilion. That decision ended a four-game win streak for the Bruins in the series, which they lead by a 139-92 margin.
With Stanford clinging to a 31-30 lead early in the second half, it appeared as if the Cardinal were in for a real fight with Arizona State. However, Stanford went on an 18-6 run to go up by 13 and never looked back, pushing their lead to as many as 24 down the stretch.
Stanford is a solid offensive team, netting 74 ppg on 46.6 percent shooting. Chasson Randle (19 ppg) is at the forefront of the scoring effort, netting 48.8 percent of his field goal tries as the third-leading scorer in the conference. He finished with a game-high 21 points in the win over Arizona State. Dwight Powell (14.2 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.3 apg) does a little bit of everything out of the post, providing scoring, rebounding and passing. Anthony Brown (13. ppg) can also fill the basket, and Josh Huestis (11.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg) is an imposing force down low.
Jordan Adams scored 15 points to lead five players in double figures for UCLA in its win over Oregon on Thursday. The Bruins shot at a 56.6 percent clip, including 8-of-16 from 3-point range, and they enjoyed a 17-9 scoring edge off of turnovers.
UCLA is always a tough team to slow down, as it ranks 11th in the country in scoring (82 ppg), while placing among the top-20 in both assists (17.3 apg) and field goal percentage (.488). Kyle Anderson (14.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.6 apg) leads the way as one of only four players nationally that is averaging at least 14 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. Adams (17.5 ppg) is the team's leading scoring, and Zach LaVine (10.6 ppg) and Norman Powell (10.8 ppg) add additional firepower. All four got in the mix against Oregon, with Adams leading the way, LaVine netting 14 and Anderson chipping in 11, while Powell took a backseat, scoring nine points on just 3-of-5 shooting.
The knock on UCLA has been its inability to get up for big games in recent years. The Bruins certainly made a statement to the contrary against Oregon on Thursday. With the amount of talent they have, a focused Bruins squad could be in for more than one win this weekend.
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