Undefeated in conference play and looking to move back into the national rankings, UCLA is set to put its much-improved offense up against visiting Washington on Saturday.
The Bruins (10-2, 6-0 Pac-12) will enter off an impressive 91-61 victory Thursday over Washington State when the leaders of the conference shook off their tendency to play to the level of their opponent. UCLA has not gone 7-0 to open conference play since 1993-94.
Washington (1-10, 0-6) will enter the game off a brutal 95-68 loss Thursday at Southern California.
UCLA is 4-0 since the start of the new year, but Thursday was the first time the Bruins defeated an opponent by double digits in that time.
Known for their defense when they rallied late last season to get into NCAA Tournament contention, the Bruins are playing up their offensive efficiency this year. UCLA is third in the Pac-12 with 77.6 points per game and the 54 it scored in the first half Thursday was the most in two seasons under head coach Mick Cronin.
Five UCLA players scored in double digits against the Cougars led by Johnny Juzang with 17, while Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 16 each. The Bruins shot 64.5 percent in the first half and 54.1 percent for the game. Campbell had six assists, while Jalen Hill had seven rebounds.
"All I know is we play Washington on Saturday and all I care about is what they're good at," said Cronin, whose team opened the season No. 22 in the nation but dropped out of the rankings following the first week.
"Our record doesn't matter because, whatever it is, if you look at the next game, you're miserable. I know we haven't lost in the league. I don't know how many games we've played. I don't know our overall record. It's not even on the stat sheet so I don't know. I know Washington is trouble."
The Huskies enter on a seven-game losing streak and have only defeated Seattle University on Dec. 9.
Guard Erik Stevenson continues to be more assertive for Washington, following a season-best 27-point game last Saturday at California with a 16-point game against Southern California. He did not score in double digits his first nine games of the season.
While Stevenson's emergence is a welcome site, it is another area of the team that needs vast improvement. Head coach Mike Hopkins continues to search for more from his defense.
"We're small up top which causes a major problem," Hopkins said about starting two guards 6-foot-3 or under. "We're (also) trying to get bigger on the baseline because rebounding has been a problem. But the activity, the deflections, the disruptions are just not there like we're used to."
--Field Level Media