When BYU arrives in the hometown of Disneyland to face the UCLA Bruins, the Cougars will be bringing plenty of attractions of their own.
On a 10-0 start to the season, BYU brings to Tinseltown the reigning national player of the week in All-America Jimmer Fredette, a No. 16 national rating in the AP poll, a No. 5 ranking in the RPI and a No. 2 ranking in the latest Sagarin ratings.
Having dismantled the Arizona Wildcats 87-65 last Saturday, BYU looks to make it two in a row over the PAC-10 in the John Wooden Classic this Saturday in Anaheim.
It will be the first Wooden Classic without the legendary coach around, he passed away in June just four months shy of turning 100 years old.
The Bruins enter the game at 5-4, and have been inconsistent this season to say the least.
After nearly taking down No. 3 Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse a couple of weeks ago, they returned home only to drop a nine-point decision to Montana just three days later.
A Closer Look at UCLA
The Bruins have possibly the biggest front court the Cougars have seen to date this year. They are led in scoring and rebounding by 6'8" small forward Tyler Honeycutt, who averages 15.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Power forward Nelson Reeves in second on the team in scoring and rebounding at 13.8 and 8.3 respectively, while shooting an impressive 57 percent from the field.
Freshman center Joshua Smith is a load down low at 6'10", 305. The youngster has drawn comparison to Glen “Big Baby” Davis of the Boston Celtics and is pumping in just under 10 points per game and cleaning the glass for an average of 6.3 boards, all in just under 20 minutes a game.
The Bruins also rely a great deal on 6'9", 223 lb. forward Brendan Lane, who for the most part comes of the bench. He has actually logged more minutes on the floor that Smith and brings a strong presence on the defensive end of the court. He leads UCLA with 18 blocked shots this season.
If both Noah Hartsock and Chris Collinsworth are unable to go, the Cougars could find themselves in a difficult situation. With just Brandon Davies and James Anderson as available bigs on the inside, BYU could find itself very thin, especially if Davies continues his trend of picking up fouls.
At the time of this writing Hartsock has not been cleared to play Saturday, and word is that Collinsworth is not expected back until next Tuesday’s game against Weber State.
The Guard Line
As is the case with virtually any team the Cougars will face in the regular season, BYU has a definite advantage in the back court against the Bruins.
UCLA starts Lazeric Jones at the point and Malcolm Lee at shooting guard. At 6'0", 187 Jones may be too small to handle Jimmer, so don’t be surprise to see the 6'5", 200 Lee take his turn on Fredette defensively. Malcolm was tabbed as the most outstanding defensive player on the team last year.
Tyler Lamb backs up Lee, he also goes 6'5", 200.
Head coach Ben Howland likes to get reserve point guard Jerime Anderson on the floor with starter Lazeric Jones to go with a two point guard attack, however he may not be able to afford that luxury with Fredette in the game.
Defense is Howland’s Calling Card
Defensively Howland-coached teams like to get after you in a very active man-to-man defense. He has largely built his coaching reputation on his ability to get the most out of his players defensively. He expects his stars players to play just as hard the defensive end of the floor as they do on offense.
You can expect to see a strong effort to try to slow down Jimmer in this game. Howland has a track record of limiting the success of opposing star players.
Offensively the Bruins are not going to try to run up and down the floor with BYU. They like to get into their offensive sets, runs their plays and dictate tempo to some degree.
Without the services of their two starting forwards, the Cougars could find themselves in a real battle in this one. Expect the Bruins to play tough and physical and try to knock BYU off their game. The Cougs will need players like Charles Abuou, Kyle Collinsworth or Stephen Rogers to step up big time.
If this contest weren’t being played immediately following the New Mexico Bowl, their might be more BYU fans in the Honda Center than Bruin fans on Saturday. UCLA has average just over 6,500 fans at Pauly Pavilion so far this season.