No. 7 Arizona vs. No. 3 UCLA MBB game preview


Marison Bilagody

Kerr Kriisa (25) and Bennedict Mathurin (0) celebrate after a shot made by the Arizona men’s basketball team in McKale Center on Jan. 29. The University of Arizona beat ASU 67-56.

Ryan Wohl

Date: Thursday, Feb. 3

Time: 6:00 p.m. M.S.T

Location: McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona

Where to watch: ESPN

Season record: Arizona (17-2), UCLA (16-2)

The Arizona men’s basketball team lost their first matchup against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in L.A. on Jan. 25, and will look to get revenge on Thursday, Feb. 4.

The Wildcats had one of their worst shooting performances of the season when they faced off against the Bruins. Having Kerr Kriisa finish 0-9 didn’t help. As a team, Arizona ended the game shooting 31% from the field and 25% on the 3-point line.

Kriisa had his worst game as a Wildcat. Adding four turnovers to the game made it hard for them to come back in the first half.

Since then, Arizona has beaten their rival ASU by 11 points, but the offense still wasn’t clicking like normal. The Wildcats shot the ball even worse from deep in this game, finishing 13% on 3-23 shooting from the 3-point line.

Bennedict Mathurin has had a tough stretch over the past few games and that continued against ASU. He was 0-8 on 3-point shots and could not get anything to fall, adding to the rest of the team.

“[Mathurin] needs to stay aggressive. He needs to stay confident,” head coach Tommy Lloyd said. “He’s a really good player. He’s really important to our team, and he’s having a great season.”

Azuolas Tubelis has been battling to come back from a sprained ankle the past three games and hasn’t looked like the player that has been seen throughout the first half of the season.

Lloyd said Tubelis is still not back to 100 percent and they are slowly working him back.

“I appreciate him continuing to work through this. It shows a lot for his character. I mean, he’s sacrificing, you know, whatever personal stats, minutes, everything,” Lloyd said. “You’re talking to an all-conference player doing that. So that says something about his character and what we’re trying to build as a program.”

RELATED: Arizona MBB gets back on track at home vs ASU

At the start of the season, the crowds in McKale Center were not up to par with what Wildcat fans were used to seeing in Tucson but that looks to be changing.

“I thought the ASU crowd was great. Even the weeks the mountain schools came here they were good,” Lloyd said. “So you know, you’re expecting a great crowd and it’s one of what makes this community so special as the way they support the team.”

Although Arizona has been on a rough offensive stretch the past few games, Christian Koloko has continued to bring energy and explosiveness on both ends of the floor. He has scored 42 points combined throughout the last three games while averaging three blocks and 11 rebounds.

“We’re going to continue to grow, continue to game plan game to game and try to put our team in the best position to win,” Lloyd said. “But overall, I’ve been happy with the events and think we have a chance to continue to be one of the elite defensive teams in the country.”

The Bruins were 47% from the 3-point line during their first matchup while having all five of their starters scoring nine or more points.

UCLA’s best player, Johnny Juzang, tested positive for COVID-19 after playing Arizona and has now been cleared. Another one of their best offensive players is Jaime Jaquez Jr., who will be a game-time decision.



If Juzang is unable to play tomorrow, it will become a totally different game. Juzang is the Bruins’ best offensive player and is a scorer that they have. He is the centerpiece of their offense and led them in scoring with 15 points last game.

Freshmen five-star prospect, Peyton Watson, has recently seen an increased role for UCLA and will see more minutes if Juzang cannot play. He is averaging seven points, five rebounds and two steals throughout the past three games.

Arizona is ranked second in the country in adjusted tempo possessions per 40 minutes, while UCLA is ranked 171st in that category according to

This is the Wildcat’s clear advantage over the Bruins. Controlling the tempo and pace will favor Arizona and that needs to be the priority for Lloyd come Thursday night.

The first game between these two teams didn’t live up to the hype of the two top 10 schools facing off but the story is to be continued on Thursday.

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