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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hoops Analysis: Bruins hope third time is the charm

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nic Wise iced the game in double-overtime with a layup with just over one second left to beat the USC Trojans 86-84 Saturday in McKale Center. It was Senior Day for the Cats as Nic Wise played his last game in McKale.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Nic Wise iced the game in double-overtime with a layup with just over one second left to beat the USC Trojans 86-84 Saturday in McKale Center. It was Senior Day for the ‘Cats as Nic Wise played his last game in McKale.

Since the Arizona men’s basketball team swept UCLA a week ago, the Bruins now know the odds of a Wildcat win in a third game are a lot higher.

One of the toughest things to do in college basketball is to beat a team three straight times in a season. The Bruins will try to avoid a Wildcat trifecta today at 1 p.m.

“”It is difficult to beat a team three straight times in a row, but we have great familiarity with them,”” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “”We respect them a great deal, there isn’t a big difference between the two teams.””

There will be one big difference for the Bruins that they didn’t have last Thursday: starting freshman center Reeves Nelson will play today after missing the last four games with a eye injury. Nelson is averaging 11 points and shooting 63.3 percent from the field.

“”Reeves Nelson is one of the most talented young players in our conference,”” Miller said. “”He gives UCLA that option on the block, he’s a physical player that can get to the free throw line, and he makes them a better team on offense and defense.

“”He’s a physical and aggressive player that I think all coaches would love to have on their team.””

Though Arizona beat the Bruins in the last two meetings, the Wildcats are aware that UCLA has had almost a week to learn from its mistakes in the first two games.

“”I know they’re watching a lot of film,”” said freshman Derrick Williams. “”We’ve beat them twice, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to beat a third time, but hopefully we can beat them one more time.””

In the first game, the Bruins slowed down the Wildcats for the first half with their zone defense, but Arizona was able to come back from a 14 point deficit in the second half and seemed to figure out the zone. The Wildcats know that getting down in this game isn’t a smart decision.

“”We need to come out strong. Every game this season we’ve started slow and had to bring ourselves back in the game,”” Williams said. “”We were down 14 last time and came back and won, but we can’t afford to do that this time.””

Each team would have to win the Pac-10 Tournament this weekend to even think about the NCAA Tournament, and this will probably be a game that comes down the stretch.

“”It’s about who will be the best (today). I don’t think we’re that much better than UCLA,”” Miller said. “”The game could go either way, we’re not the team that’s saying we’ve beaten them twice (so) it’s going to be easy.

“”We expect a hard fought game, we know UCLA has a lot pride just like us,”” he added.

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