UCLA Basketball: How Bruins Stack Up Against Duke at Each Position

Robert PaceContributor IIIDecember 18, 2013

UCLA Basketball: How Bruins Stack Up Against Duke at Each Position

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    The biggest game in UCLA's season is only a day away.

    After losing their first game of the 2013-14 season to Missouri two weeks ago, the Bruins have set their sights on redeeming and repositioning themselves as one of the nation's premier teams.

    Fortunately, they have a solid opportunity to do so when they take on No. 8 Duke for a prime-time showdown in Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

    Even though it's merely a nonconference game, it would be a significant victory for UCLA, which is stacked up against current No. 1 Arizona in the Pac-12.

    As the anticipation until the big game mounts, here's a look at how UCLA stacks up against Duke at every position.

Point Guard

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Kyle Anderson/Quinn Cook

    Anderson and Cook have a similar influence on their team's offenses but couldn't be more dissimilar in their style.

    Both are guards have a knack for creating shots for themselves and their teammates, but Duke's Cook is more of a traditional point guard, while Anderson is a uniquely equipped point guard at 6'9".

    Cook's quickness would seem to give him an advantage over Anderson, but Anderson's length and shot-blocking ability negates that apparent advantage.

    Advantage: UCLA



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    Jordan Adams/Jabari Parker

    This has the makings of a must-see matchup.

    Adams is UCLA's best all-around player, and Jabari Parker is one of the best players in the nation.

    Parker is listed as a forward, but he is a de facto guard who can pretty much do it all on offensive end and from just about anywhere past the half-court line.

    Adams is a dynamic scorer as well and an excellent defender, but his size (6'6", 220 lbs.) disadvantage against Parker (6'8", 235 lbs.) might play a role.

    Advantage: Duke


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    Norman Powell/Tyler Thornton

    Tyler Thornton hasn't averaged more than four points per game in any of his four seasons at Duke, yet the Blue Devils' head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, continues to start him and give him over 20 minutes per game.

    The main reason Coach K keeps Thornton in the starting lineup is because he's a great defender, good facilitator and rarely turns the ball over.

    Norman Powell, on the other hand, is a much greater offensive contributor while also being great on the defensive end.

    Advantage: UCLA


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    Travis Wear/Rodney Hood

    Travis Wear may have two years of experience and two inches on Rodney Hood, but that doesn't entail any advantage for him over the 6'8" sophomore.

    Wear, who recently started the first game of his senior season in UCLA's most recent win over Prairie View A&M, is still getting into playing shape after missing a few weeks recovering from appendicitis.

    However, what does play in Wear's favor is Hood's frequent carelessness with the ball, which yields at least a couple of turnovers per game.

    Advantage: Duke


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    David Wear/Josh Hairston

    A statistically scant offensive player much like Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston has also remained in the starting lineup in his senior season.

    Despite his offensive shortcomings, Hairston is an above-average, persistent defender with catalytic energy.

    David Wear is essentially the opposite of Hairston. He plays a bigger role in UCLA's offense than Hairston does in Duke's, but Wear doesn't add any boosting energy to the team.

    Although Wear has two inches on Hairston (6'8"), Hairston fares well against taller defenders, in part due to his burly frame at 235 pounds.

    Advantage: Duke


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    Zach LaVine, Bryce Alford, Tony Parker/Andre Dawkins, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson

    Both teams have some talented main bench players, but UCLA has the best bench player of both teams and one of the best in the nation in Zach LaVine.

    UCLA also has an excellent talent in Bryce Alford manning backup point guard for the Bruins. However, they are weak in the frontcourt with sophomore Tony Parker's struggle to develop.

    Freshman center Wanaah Bail will take on more minutes as he continues to learn the system, but for now, UCLA's go-to big off the bench will be Parker, which puts it at a disadvantage against Duke.

    Although the Blue Devils have one of the best outside shooters in the nation coming off the bench in Andre Dawkins, UCLA's freshman bench guards, LaVine and Alford, have a much bigger influence on their team and can shoot from distance.

    Advantage: UCLA