9-3 and in second place in the Pac-12 conference, one game behind the Arizona Wildcats
Despite all the complaining and the criticism from pundits and even in Bruin Nation that this team has too much trouble putting two good halves together,
Despite the lack of respect that the polls have shown in not ranking this squad, even though their record is similar – and in some cases better – than many squads ranked in the AP top 25, and…
Despite the continued lack of overwhelming support from fans as the only time Pauley Pavilion has approached their over 12,500 capacity has been for the Arizona and USC games, while other traditional programs sell out their arenas for even the lowliest opponents,
You cannot overlook the fact that for the second straight year and third time in the last four seasons, this UCLA Bruin basketball program have won 20 games, courtesy of two solid wins at Pauley Pavilion this past weekend, 92-74 over Colorado on Thursday and 80-66 over Utah on Saturday.
No matter how one slices it, 20 wins is never anything to sneeze at, and any college hoops squad that reaches that milestone must be considered a good one.
It was a team effort in both victories as four Bruins, led by Kyle Anderson‘s 22 points, scored in double figures in the win over Colorado while Anderson’s ten rebounds and
Jordan Adams‘ 24 points led Steve Alford’s team against Utah, which earned them sufficient revenge for the loss they suffered to the Utes in Salt Lake City.
And most importantly, UCLA clearly established themselves as the number two team in the Pac-12 as they now trail second-ranked Arizona by one game.
So far, my pre-season predictions regarding this team, that they would win between 20 and 25 games, seems to be right on the mark at this point.
Actually, it has been a good race in the conference as Arizona State, who scored a double overtime win over their cross-state rivals in a game that should be pegged as an instant classic, and California are right behind the Bruins in the standings at 8-4, with the Sun Devils needing only one victory to reach their magic 20-win mark.
With three weeks and six games left to go in the regular season before the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, UCLA has some work to do as they will spend this coming week in the Bay Area.
The Bruins will face two tough teams as they try to put some distance between them and the Golden Bears in front of a hostile crowd at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley this Wednesday night, then journey to Maples Pavilion this Saturday to play a 7-5 (16-8 overall) Stanford Cardinal team.
And to be honest, the pundits and fans that have lamented the fact that UCLA hasn’t put two good halves together aren’t wrong as they overwhelmed Colorado and Utah in the second half of the past two games come out ahead.
If these Bruins can play a complete game, they will have a great chance to achieve a crucial road sweep over their NorCal foes, not to mention put themselves in great shape for the rest of the season and the postseason.
If not, then the results will be the same as they were during their last two road trips, a split where they played badly in their loss.
Which they can’t afford to do of they want to have a chance at their second straight Pac-12 title.