An unranked Pac-10 team from Washington already gave UCLA a scare at Pauley Pavilion this week. Now the injury-plagued Bruins host a conference foe from that state which also is among the Top 25.
The highest-ranked teams in the Pac-10 will square off on Saturday when UCLA tries to extend its home winning streak over Washington to 20 games.
The No. 11 Bruins (14-2, 3-1) struggled to knock off Washington State on Thursday, blowing nearly all of a 17-point lead in the second half before holding on to win 63-61. Arron Afflalo scored three of his 18 points in the final 28 seconds and UCLA survived when the Cougars’ Kyle Weaver missed a layup at the buzzer.
Two days after posting their 48th win in the last 49 meetings with Washington State at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins look to extend a 19-game home winning streak over Washington (13-2, 2-2). The 13th-ranked Huskies are 2-40 all-time at Pauley Pavilion and haven’t won there since Jan. 29, 1987.
Keeping that streak alive will be tough for UCLA considering it is battling so many health issues, something coach Ben Howland felt made Thursday’s victory that much more impressive.
“This is a great win for us with all the adversity,” Howland said, noting injuries to seven players.
Afflalo, averaging a team-high 18.9 points, is one of only two Bruins to start all 16 games. The sophomore guard is not 100 percent after suffering a hip pointer in last Saturday’s 61-60 win at Arizona State.
Point guard Jordan Farmar, slowed by a right ankle sprain, added 12 points Thursday but is shooting just 31 percent (14-of-45) over his last five games.
Farmar collided with Lorenzo Mata with 3 minutes remaining against Washington State. Five days after breaking his nose against Arizona State, Mata suffered what turned out to be a fracture in his knee and he will be sidelined for at least six weeks.
“We bumped knees and he got the worst of it,” said Farmar, averaging 13.4 points and 5.7 assists.
UCLA learned before Thursday’s game that sophomore forward Josh Shipp will miss the rest of the season because of continuing pain in his right hip. Former starters Cedric Bozeman and Michael Fey also are out, but 7-foot senior Ryan Hollins is expected to return Saturday after missing the last seven games with torn cartilage in his left shoulder.
Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has provided a strong presence in the paint in Hollins’ absence, averaging a team-high 8.7 rebounds for a UCLA team which has won 11 of 12 since an 88-80 loss to then-No. 11 Memphis on Nov. 23.
Unlike the Bruins, the Huskies have been healthy this season as four players have started every game and freshman Justin Dentmon has started all but one contest.
Washington bounced back from consecutive conference losses with an 86-77 win over Southern California on Thursday night. Brandon Roy had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Bobby Jones scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half for the Huskies, who beat Cornell in between losses to Arizona and Washington State.
“We already knew coming into the game that our backs were against the wall,” Jones said. “I mean, we were 1-2 in conference. You don’t want to start off conference play slow, then put yourself in a corner and force yourself to win five or six in a row. So it was a huge game.”
While the Huskies committed 28 turnovers, they used their quickness to outscore USC on the break and shot 50.8 percent (30-of-59) from the field. Washington also outrebounded USC 46-24.
Roy averages a team-high 19.4 points for the Huskies, who are scoring a conference-leading 89.7 points per game.