GAME NOTES: Two teams looking to make up ground in the Pac-12 Conference square off at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night, as the UCLA Bruins play host to the Stanford Cardinal.
Steve Alford's Bruins are coming off a tough road loss at Utah this past weekend (74-69), ending a brief two-game win streak and dropping the team to 3-2 in league play. UCLA returns home however, where it has gone an impressive 11-1 this season, the lone loss coming against league-leading and No. 1 ranked Arizona (79-75) a couple of weeks ago.
Johnny Dawkins' Cardinal enter this contest on a bit of a roll, bringing a three-game win streak with them. Stanford dropped its first two conference affairs, but has moved to 3-2 in the Pac-12 with victories over Oregon (82-80), Washington State (89-48) and most recently, Washington (79-67).
UCLA holds a 138-91 series advantage over Stanford and has won eight of the last 10 meetings, including a season sweep a year ago.
The Cardinal found their offensive rhythm early on and continued it through the game, shooting .542 from the floor in both halves in upending Washington last time out. Chasson Randle had a huge game, connecting on 11-of-15 from the floor and 10-of-13 from the free-throw line to lead all scorers with 33 points. Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis provided plenty of support, as both recorded double-doubles in the win. Powell posted 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Huestis tacked on 13 points and 10 boards himself.
Stanford has been a highly efficient team on the offensive end all season long. The Cardinal come into this contest averaging 77.0 ppg, doing so on .491 shooting overall, including an impressive .407 from behind the arc. Randle leads the charge, shooting .522 from the floor and .420 from 3-point range, en route to a hefty 19.5 ppg, good for third in the conference. Powell (14.2 ppg), Antony Brown (13.2 ppg) and Huestis (10.9 ppg) continue a deep scoring pool for Stanford. Huestis and Powell are a potent one-two punch on the glass, hauling in 8.0 and 7.6 rebounds per game, respectively.
The Bruins know a thing or two about filling up the basket at a high rate as well. UCLA ranks 11th nationally and second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 84.4 ppg. The team is fifth in the nation in field-goal percentage (.502), while holding positive margins in rebounding (+4.4) and turnovers (+4.4). Jordan Adams leads a quartet of double-figure scorers for UCLA with 17.4 ppg. Kyle Anderson however, is perhaps the most versatile player in the league, with the ability to score (15.5 ppg), rebound (8.9 rpg) and distribute (6.5 apg) at will. Zach LaVine has been a huge asset off the bench, netting 12.6 ppg, while Norman Powell (10.7 ppg) has also found plenty of opportunities to contribute as well.
Anderson did his best to lead UCLA to victory at Utah on Saturday, but his career-high 28 points weren't enough in a five-point loss. The Bruins almost erased a 17-point second-half deficit, reducing it to just two points late, but couldn't overcome the Utes. LaVine finished with 15 points, while Adams checked in with 11 for the Bruins in the setback.
Stanford has shown to be a solid road team this season, but winning at Pauley Pavilion is never easy. This should be a highly entertaining game, but in the end, the homecourt advantage tips the scales in the favor of the Bruins.
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