UCLA figures to be in the zone against Oakland

Don’t be surprised if the UCLA basketball team plays a fair amount of zone defense against Oakland on Tuesday night.

The Bruins, who dropped two places to No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25 this week, started out in man-to-man against Drexel in the season opener but had to switch as the game wore on.

“In stretches, it was really good,” Coach Steve Alford said of the zone. “And it kind of saved us.”

While UCLA has length, there have been doubts about the team’s athleticism. Also, injuries are dictating strategy.

With senior Travis Wear and freshman Wanaah Bail missing from the lineup, the front line is thin. Against Drexel, center Tony Parker got into early foul trouble, which limited the opportunities for aggressive man-to-man play.

“Those aren’t excuses, it’s just reality,” Alford said. “We’ve got nowhere else to go on the bench.”

The zone figures to be a significant component until the team gets healthy.

“We’re just trying to find the correct defense that fits us best,” guard Jordan Adams said. “We’re still playing around with both.”

Oakland, located in Michigan, is coming off an 84-61 loss at No. 12 North Carolina in its first game of the season. Travis Bader scored 18 points for the Golden Grizzlies.

“We go from a building that’s got six national championship banners to one that’s got 11,” Coach Greg Kampe said. “Dean Dome to Pauley Pavilion.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 6:02 p.m. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.

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