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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
First look: UCLA at Washington State

By Peter Yoon

What: UCLA Bruins (22-7, 12-4) at Washington State Cougars (11-18, 2-14)

When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. PT

Where: Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: AM 570

Scouting the Bruins: UCLA has won four consecutive games and six of its past seven and sits in a tie with Oregon for first place in the Pac-12 Conference standings. The Bruins are coming off of a home sweep of Arizona State and Arizona that all but punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament and kept them in contention for their first conference title since the Final Four team of 2008. Kyle Anderson, the Pac-12 Player of the Week last week, is averaging 16.8 points and 11 rebounds during UCLA’s four-game win streak -- far above his season averages of 10.3 points and nine rebounds. Larry Drew II is averaging 11 points and 8.8 assists during the streak while Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams continue to pour in the points with 18.8 and 17 points, respectively, over the past four games. Muhammad, one of the top 3-point shooters in the conference, has made 7 of 12 from long range during UCLA’s streak and Drew has made 7 of 11. The Bruins lead the conference in scoring with 76 points per game and are shooting a conference-best 46.3 percent, but are last in rebounding margin (-1.0) and have been out-rebounded in nine consecutive games. Forward Travis Wear is still battling a sprained foot and missed practice Monday after playing 17 minutes against Arizona on Saturday. He had missed the previous two games and his status for Wednesday is hopeful, coach Ben Howland said. David Wear, averaging 9.9 points and nine rebounds over the past three games, has filled in nicely for his twin brother.

Scouting the Cougars: Washington State occupies the bottom spot in the Pac-12 standings thanks to a current nine-game losing streak. That’s not to say the Cougars are a pushover. Of their 18 losses, 10 have been by seven points or fewer and five have been by two points or fewer. They took Gonzaga, now ranked No. 1 in the nation, down to the wire in a 71-69 loss in December and went to overtime with first-place Oregon before losing 79-77 on Feb. 16. They are 1-6 at home in conference games, but four of the losses have been by five points or fewer, so the Cougars know how to stay in games and it's only a matter of time before they finish one. Senior guard Mike Ladd, the team’s second-leading scorer with 11.4 points per game and third on the team with 5.9 rebounds per game, has missed the past five games with a knee injury and is questionable to play. Leading scorer Brock Motum continues to shine even in a down year and is third in the conference with 17.9 points per game while leading the team with 6.2 rebounds per game. Royce Woolridge had 36 points against Oregon and is averaging 19 over the past four games for the Cougars, who are 11th in the conference in scoring at 63.8 points per game and 11th in field goal percentage at 42.5 percent. The Cougars will slow the game with multiple defensive looks and are giving up only 63.4 points a game to rank No. 4 in the conference in scoring defense.

The series: UCLA leads the all-time series 102-14. The Bruins defeated Washington State 76-62 on Feb. 9 for their eighth consecutive victory over the Cougars. UCLA is 46-11 all-time against the Cougars in Pullman and has a current 19-game win streak at Washington State that began in 1994. Of those 19 UCLA victories, however, 10 have come by five points or fewer.

Quick quote: “Those of us that have been there know how many close calls we’ve had in Pullman here in recent memory,” Howland said of playing at Pullman. “I know and have tried to really impress upon our players that if we don’t show up and play our best, we are definitely putting ourselves in an opportunity to lose on Wednesday.”