Men’s basketball expects fierce face-off with experienced teams Colorado, Utah
Freshman guard/forward Jake Kyman led UCLA men’s basketball with 20 points in the Bruins’ road loss to then-No. 12 Oregon on Sunday, hitting four 3s in the process. (Kanishka Mehra/Assistant Photo editor)
Thursday, 8 p.m.
Sunday, 2 p.m.
Jan. 30, 2020 1:59 a.m.
For the second time in five days, the Bruins will face a nationally ranked opponent.
UCLA men’s basketball (10-10, 3-4 Pac-12) will host No. 20 Colorado (16-4, 5-2) on Thursday evening and Utah (12-7, 3-4) on Sunday afternoon. The Buffaloes rank second in the Pac-12 behind only No. 11 Oregon, and they boast a similar veteran roster to the Ducks – who defeated the Bruins by more than 20 points Sunday.
“Every game is different, but you always have to try to learn,” said coach Mick Cronin. “As a coach, what did I not get done to make sure our guys could handle the pressure and the moment and what they’re going to throw at us? How do you do a better job and make sure your team improves and learns from it?”
Eleven players on Colorado’s 17-man roster are upperclassmen, including three of the four Buffaloes who have started 19 or more games. Of Oregon’s five players with 15 or more starts, four are upperclassmen.
In comparison, UCLA has had just one senior – redshirt guard Prince Ali – and one junior – guard Chris Smith – make more than two starts this season. Freshman guard/forward Jake Kyman said the Colorado veterans will be an advantage for the Buffaloes on Thursday.
“Experience is a really big thing,” Kyman said. “You look at all the NCAA teams that win, and there’s always a lot of experience on the team – it’s never just young guys.”
UCLA is 11-6 all time against Colorado but has dropped the last four meetings between the teams, with the Bruins’ last win coming Jan. 12, 2017.
The Buffaloes are led offensively by guard McKinley Wright IV, who is averaging 13.4 points and 5.2 assists per game this season. Colorado has two other players averaging more than 10 points per game, including guard/forward Tyler Bey – who also is tied for leading the Pac-12 with 9.1 rebounds per game.
“Bey is high-energy, high-motor – he’s touching the glass every possession,” said redshirt sophomore forward/center Jalen Hill. “I’ve got to match his energy and make him match mine, and see whose energy is better. He’s a strong post, defensively very good, so we’ve got to challenge that.”
Utah will enter the weekend riding a two-game winning streak after defeating both Washington schools at home this weekend. Ute forward Timmy Allen ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 19 points per game, in addition to his team-high 7.6 rebounds per game.
UCLA has dropped its last three contests with Utah, including a one-point loss in February 2019 that came on a buzzer-beater from then-Ute guard Parker Van Dyke.
The Bruins’ first tipoff of the weekend will be Thursday at 8 p.m. against the Buffaloes.
“(The Buffaloes) know what they’re doing – what they want on offense, what they want other teams to do on defense,” Hill said. “We’ve got to come prepared.”