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UCLA, Arizona share struggles and young lineups

UCLA and Arizona, meeting at Pauley Pavilion for a Pacific 10 Conference game this morning, share a few similarities.

Two programs with a history of winning. Two programs toiling through the early season with 6-7 records.

And two lineups that rely heavily on underclassmen.

“Obviously they’re playing a lot of young guys and they’re going to get better,” UCLA Coach Ben Howland said.

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Arizona’s starting lineup includes freshmen Solomon Hill and Derrick Williams, who averages 15 points and 6.5 rebounds. But the Wildcats also have a senior, Nic Wise, at the essential position of point guard.

“He really makes that thing go,” Howland said. “He really does a good job of pushing the ball.”

Defensively, Arizona has employed a variety of zones and traps this season, but UCLA expects to face man-to-man defense most of the time.

Wake-up call

Today’s game presents a logistic problem for two reasons.

The Bruins had little time to prepare, convening for stretching, a video session and walk-through, and free-throw practice Friday morning. Then came another walk-through in the evening.

“We’ve just got to come back and play,” guard Jerime Anderson said. “It’s just part of the deal.”

Howland shifted practice this week to an earlier hour to prepare for an unusual 10 a.m. tipoff. The coach noted that his team’s season opener against Cal State Fullerton started at 9 p.m.

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“A lot of times, TV dictates when the games are played,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to adjust to it.”

Best wishes

Drew Gordon, the talented but temperamental forward who abruptly left UCLA early this season, has found a new home at New Mexico.

The 6-9 sophomore chose the Lobos after visits to Notre Dame, Nevada Las Vegas and San Diego State.

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“It had everything he was looking for, the style of play they run, the type of offense,” his mother, Shelly, said. “He was looking for a team that really needed his athleticism and his speed and his size.”

By enrolling immediately, Gordon could be eligible to play by midway through next season.

Informed of Gordon’s decision, Howland said: “We wish him the best.”

Health matters

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Senior forward James Keefe showed no ill effects from returning to action against Arizona State on Thursday.

Keefe played 12 minutes, recording three rebounds, a point and an assist.

Freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt has been battling stomach flu, Howland said, but is expected to play today.

david.wharton@latimes.com

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