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UCLA plays well as a team when it’s leading, but as we saw in the Bruins’ game against Alabama, they have plenty of work to do in playing under duress.
Although UCLA took an early lead in the game, the Crimson Tide enacted a full-court press that overwhelmed the Bruins and forced them to make a series of costly turnovers that allowed Alabama back into the game.
Coach Alford noted after the game that it was good experience for UCLA in handling a press, but the team will have to quickly adapt to intense defensive pressure early in Pac-12 play.
UCLA will face one of the best defensive teams in the country, Arizona (6th in the nation in points allowed per game: 56.7%, as of press time), in its second conference matchup.
The Bruins face not only the physical challenge of pressure but its mental counterpart as well.
As evidenced in the Bruins’ losses to Missouri and Duke, they tend to play ineffective basketball when they are down in the second half, particularly with less than five minutes to play.
In key, game-defining moments, UCLA will need to rise to the occasion and play composed instead of scrambling like they have in games past.