UCLA Basketball: Biggest Keys for Bruins to Win Pac-12 Conference Title

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UCLA Basketball: Biggest Keys for Bruins to Win Pac-12 Conference Title
Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

It's Final Four or bust for the 2012-13 UCLA Bruins this season and for good reason. 

The arrival of freshman sensation Shabazz Muhammad has brought the promise of a deep NCAA Tournament run and revived national championship hopes. The Bruins entered the season ranked 13th in the country and are off to a 3-1 start this November. 

But in order to ensure they'll be dancing this coming March, the Bruins will need to outclass the rest of their conference rivals.

Here we'll highlight the biggest keys for UCLA to win the Pac-12 Conference this season.

 

Offensive Efficiency

Harry How/Getty Images

UCLA is off to a strong offensive start in non-conference play this season, but that will have to continue up and through the Bruins' conference schedule. 

The Bruins are shooting nearly 46 percent from the field through their first four games this November, but only 31.7 percent from the beyond the arc. Quite frankly, 20-for-63 shooting from long distance isn't going to get it done for Ben Howland's crew.

Freshman guard Jordan Adams will need to reel in his 3-point attempts as the season wears on. Adams has already attempted 25 3-pointers in four games, shooting the long ball at a 32 percent clip and bringing the team's offensive efficiency down.

UCLA shot 40.9 percent from the field as a team in its loss to Georgetown on Monday after shooting 48 percent in its first three wins.

The Bruins currently rank 105th in the nation in field goal percentage. 

 

Focus on the Road

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The Bruins will have to be better on the road against the rest of the Pac-12 this winter if they are to seriously challenge for the conference throne.

UCLA went just 3-6 away from home against the Pac-12 last season, finishing 11-7 overall in the conference. If the Bruins can avoid another brutal start to the conference season then they will be the hands-down favorite to win the Pac-12 in my eyes. 

The talent on this team is undeniable and the potential is sky-high.

So far in non-conference, the Bruins have dropped their one game outside of Los Angeles, losing to unranked Georgetown at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 

Remain Dominant on the Boards

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

UCLA is off to a strong start on the backboards this fall, ranking 23rd in the country and averaging slightly more than 44 rebounds per game.

The Bruins' success on the glass has been sparked by freshman Kyle Anderson and twin forwards Travis and David Wear, who have combined to account for nearly 50 percent of UCLA's 177 rebounds in four games this season.

Ben Howland's team will have a tremendous advantage on the boards moving forward, and will need to pound Pac-12 rivals like Arizona on the glass in order to give them more room for error in big conference games, especially on the road. 

You can't teach size, but UCLA has it. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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