First, UCLA Must Deal With the Sun Devils
UCLA, only four days away from its matchup with Oregon State, plays Arizona State tonight at Pauley Pavilion in a game that will have no impact on the Pacific-10 Conference race--unless the Bruins lose.
The Sun Devils are 3-10 in the Pac-10, but they broke a four-game conference losing streak by defeating USC, 69-62, at the Sports Arena Thursday night. Then they climbed out of the cellar and were replaced by USC, which lost to UCLA Saturday afternoon.
Even though his team could easily be looking ahead to playing Oregon State and not Arizona State, UCLA Coach Hazzard said the Bruins need to exercise some caution.
Hazzard said he wants to make it clear that the Bruins cannot take a victory over Arizona State for granted and just report to Corvallis immediately to decide the conference championship.
“Steve Patterson’s team cannot be overlooked,” Hazzard said. “It must be taken seriously. We’re in no position to start overlooking anybody anytime.”
The position Hazzard and the Bruins are in is first place. Arizona made sure UCLA would be there alone and without Oregon State when the Wildcats defeated the Beavers Saturday afternoon in Tucson.
The Bruins are 11-3 and have a one-game lead over 10-4 Oregon State. If the Sun Devils can pull off an upset, UCLA and Oregon State would be tied in the loss column when they play Thursday night.
After taking on Arizona State, UCLA begins its most important road trip of the season when the Bruins meet the Beavers in Corvallis. UCLA plays Oregon in Eugene Sunday afternoon.
UCLA is 5-4 on the road and the two Oregon schools are a combined 19-2 at home.
UCLA is 12-1 in Pauley Pavilion, where the Bruins are 40-8 in Coach Walt Hazzard’s tenure. . . . Prime Ticket will televise the UCLA-Arizona State game at 7:30 p.m. . . . The Sun Devils have made a change in their backcourt where 6-0 senior guard Bobby Thompson is now starting in place of 5-9 junior Arthur Thomas. Thomas still played 33 minutes in the USC game and had 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals. . . . Steve Beck, a second-team All-Pacific-10 player last season, leads the Sun Devils with a scoring average of 19.2 points. . . . The Bruins’ first road win of the year was against Arizona State, Jan. 8 in Tempe, where UCLA defeated the Sun Devils, 61-51.