Murry Bartow said the Bruins would stick to zone defense.
“Right now, we just think we’re better in the zone,” said the interim coach. “If you look at our numbers, we’ve just been much better in zone than we have in man.”
UCLA men’s basketball (12-10, 5-4 Pac-12) will host Colorado (12-9, 3-6) in Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday night. After allowing Washington to shoot 45.8 percent from 3-point range on Saturday, the Bruins will continue to play zone defense against the Buffaloes, who are shooting a conference-low 32 percent from deep.
Despite the lackluster shooting numbers, Colorado sits at No. 5 in the conference in points per game, and Bartow said that the Buffaloes are a worthy Pac-12 opponent.
“I think they are (better than their record),” Bartow said. “It’s a good Colorado team, Tad (Boyle)’s a great coach and does a great job with their team, so we’ll just have to play well.”
Colorado came to Pauley last year and handed UCLA one of its two home losses of the season, also beating the Bruins in Boulder, Colorado, a month later.
Redshirt junior guard Prince Ali – who was a starter in one of those two games – said UCLA needs to learn from last season and not overlook Colorado’s talent again.
“I don’t think their record was great last year and they swept us,” Ali said. “We’re in a league where if we play well, we can beat anybody, and if we don’t play well, we could lose to anyone, so we can’t take any game for granted.”
Colorado is fresh off a 22-point victory over preseason favorite Oregon, with guard Tyler Bey leading the charge with 27 points in 27 minutes. Bey – who is averaging 12.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game – went a perfect 9-of-9 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
Even in the blowout victory, however, the Buffaloes went just 3-of-20 from long range, and Bey didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer. It was the fourth time Colorado won a game this season while shooting under 30 percent from 3, while UCLA only has one of those victories.
Singleton vying for more playing time
Freshman guard David Singleton has just three turnovers in the Bruins’ nine conference games – and Bartow has taken notice.
“Number one, he’s our best shooter,” Bartow said. “We are trying to get (Singleton) more minutes, but there’s other guys in that 10-man rotation I’m trying to give more minutes to.”
Ali – who is also a 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard – said Singleton’s presence off the bench has been huge for UCLA.
“(Singleton’s) been playing well. He’s a nice spark off the bench, efficient, sniper, works hard,” Ali said.
Ali and redshirt junior forward Alex Olesinski are the two oldest Bruins on the roster, and Olesinski also praised the freshman’s shooting ability so early in his career.
“(Singleton) can shoot the lights out, so he’s been a big get for us and he’s been playing really at a really high level,” Olesinski said.
Singleton is not expected to crack the starting lineup Wednesday when UCLA tips off against Colorado at 6 p.m., but Bartow said he will continue to play him alongside sophomore guard Jaylen Hands in the backcourt moving forward.