PAC 12 Basketball Preview: UCLA Bruins at California Golden Bears

UCLA Bruins at California Golden Bears
Haas Pavilion – Berkeley, California
Saturday, December 31, 2011, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: FSN
Opening Line: Cal -7
Current Total: Cal -6 1/2
Opening Total: 128 1/2
Current Total: 128 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cal -300 / UCLA +250
Current Money Line: Cal -260 / UCLA +220

California is a 6 point favorite at home against UCLA Saturday in Pac 12 action.

The 7-6 UCLA Bruins opened Pac 12 play Thursday night at Stanford. The Bruins lost 60-59 to snap a 5 game UCLA winning streak. Now the Bruins take on the 11-3 California Golden Bears in Berkeley Saturday afternoon. The Golden Bears beat USC Thursday night 53-49 in their PAC 12 opener.

UCLA was a pre-season top 20 team, under coach Ben Howland, but haven’t lived up to expectations. The Bruins started off the season 2-5 before the 5 game winning streak with the only wins coming over Chaminade in the Maui Invitational and Pepperdine. UCLA also has wins over Penn, Eastern Washington, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and Richmond. The Bruins have losses to Loyola Marymount, Middle Tennessee St, Kansas & Michigan in Maui, and Texas.

California was also a top 25 team in the pre-season poll under coach Mike Montgomery. The Golden Bears have losses to Missouri in Kansas City, and at San Diego St and UNLV. All three teams are currently ranked in the top 25. Cal has wins over UC Irvine, George Washington, Austin Peay, Georgia, San Jose St, Weber St, and UC Santa Barbara. UCLA leads the series against Cal 132-98. The Bears have won 3 of the last 5 against the Bruins, including 76-72 last February in Berkeley.

UCLA is outscoring opponents 68-63 this season. The Bruins are shooting 44.3% from the field, including 34.2% from 3 point range. UCLA makes 66.2% of their free throws. The Bruins average 35.5 rebounds, and have a rebounding margin of +2.5. UCLA averages 13.8 assists, 10.9 turnovers, 7.4 steals, and 5.2 blocks a game. Bruin opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field including 39% from 3 point range. UCLA forces 13.8 turnovers a game.

UCLA guard Lazeric Jones averages 14.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2 steals a game. He leads the Bruins inscoring, assists, and steals. Jones shoots 42.6% from 3 point range. Forward Travis Wear averages 10 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks a game to tie for the team lead. Joshua Smith averages 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks a game to lead the team. Jerime Anderson averages 9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. Tyler Lamb averages 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists a game, and 1.2 steals a game. David Wear leads the team in rebounding with 6.3 a game and also scores 8.2 points a game. Guard De’End Parker is out indefinitely with a knee injury. He ahs only played in two games because of the injury. Star forward Reeves Nelson was kicked off the team for violating team rules. Last year, he averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds a game for the Bruins.

Cal is outscoring opponents 71-58 this season. The Golden Bears shoot 47.1% from the field, including 42.5% from 3 point range. The Bears are 7th in the nation in 3 point percentage. Cal makes 73.9% from the free throw line.  The Golden Bears average 36.7 rebounds a game, and have a rebounding margin of +8.9. Cal averages 15.8 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 4.8 steals, and 3.2 blocks a game. Cal opponents are shooting 38.8% from the field, including 32.3% from 3 point range. The Golden Bears force 12.6 turnovers a game.

California guard Allen Crabbe averages 15.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. He shoots 44% from 3 point range. Jorge Gutierrez is averaging 13.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals a game to lead the team. He makes 47.6% from 3 point range. Justin Cobbs averages 12.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists to lead the team, and 1 steal a game. Cobbs makes 65.2% of his 3 point attempts. Harper Kamp averages 9.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Richard Solomon leads the team in rebounds with 6.9 a game and blocks with 1.4 a game. Solomon is out until Mid-January with a foot injury. David Kravish averages 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a game. Forward Christian Behrens and guard Alex Rossi are both out indefinitely.

Cal is 7-5 against the spread and the total is 2-10 this season. UCLA is 5-7 ATS and the total is also 5-7 this season. Cal has covered the last 4 against UCLA and the over is 4-1 in the last 5. The road team is 13-5 in the last 18 games in the series. The Bruins are 5-1 ATS in Pac 10/12 games, 4-1 overall, and 2-5 after a cover. The Golden Bears are 6-1 ATS at home, 13-3-1 in Saturday games, and 7-2 in after allowing 50 points or less.

UCLA hasn’t lived up to expectations this season, and part of the reason is the cloud created by the Reeves Nelson situation. Cal has 3 losses to 3 very good teams. I see the Bears winning a close defensive struggle against UCLA.

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