UCLA has some of the most impressive wins of any college basketball team. It has defeated Kentucky, Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., and, most recently, Arizona.
UCLA also has turned in some of the most baffling performances of any team in the Pac-12 Conference. It was stomped by Washington State last weekend. It lost to Wake Forest. It played Long Beach State and McNeese State to closer games than necessary.
UCLA's record is great against the best teams in the country. UCLA's record is not so great against teams closer to average.
So which is the real UCLA?
Thursday's win over Arizona may have been one of UCLA's most significant, but Saturday's game against a competitive, but not elite, Arizona State team could be more revealing.
"What I'll use is Saturday as a barometer, because here we go again," UCLA Coach Steve Alford said. "I want to see where our energy is, where our enthusiasm is, where our excitement is, because we didn't get that last weekend."
Alford thinks last weekend's loss to Washington State was an aberration. His team played without intensity, and paid for it. Any nonconference inconsistency, he said, resulted from UCLA's brutal schedule.
The difference, guard Aaron Holiday said, is mostly on defense.
"I know we're going to score on offense, so we've just got to get stops," Holiday said.
UCLA's inconsistency, several players said, is a symptom of defensive effort. Fix that, they said, and they'll play every team like they did Arizona.
"It's just coming out to play hard every time and being enthusiastic, no matter the scene, no matter where we are," forward-center Tony Parker said. "If we play at a high level with energy, that type of attitude … it's going to be hard to beat us."
UCLA NEXT UP
vs. Arizona State
When: 2 p.m., Saturday
Where: Pauley Pavilion.
On the air: TV: Pac-12 Networks; Radio: 570.