UCLA Bruins at Arizona State Sun Devils – NCAAM January 7

UCLA (7-2, 3-0) at Arizona State (4-3, 1-0)

  • Desert Financial Arena, Tempe, Arizona
  • ESPN
  • 7:30 pm PST/9:30 pm CST/10:30 pm EST

Series:

UCLA leads the all-time series 69-23 as the Bruins and Sun Devils split last season with both teams winning at home. The Sun Devils have won four out of the last five, including at 84-66 win in Tempe a year ago.

Vs. The Spread:

The Bruins are 6-3 ATS this season while Arizona State is 1-6. UCLA is 0-5-1 ATS in the last six game against ASU and the Bruins are 2-7-1 ATS when playing at Arizona State. The total has gone OVER in 12 of the Sun Devils’ last 18 games, but the OVER has been the play in four of the last five Sun Devils-Bruins matchups.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
UCLA -1 (-115) -120 145 (-110)
Arizona State +1 (-105) +100 U 145 (-110)

Last Time Out:

Jaime Jaquez, Jr., scored 14 points as all five Bruins starters hit double figures in a 65-62 win over Colorado in Westwood. The Bruins took a 44-38 lead midway through the second half and responded to numerous Buffaloes’ challenges throughout the rest of the game. It was an even battle, but the Bruins scored nine points off of nine offensive rebounds which was a major key to the victory.

Thursday night’s matchup with the Bruins will be Arizona State’s first basketball game in 22 days as ASU had a trip to the Washingtons called off due to Covid-19 protocols and they also had an earlier game vs. Utah postponed due to covid protocols within the Utes program. Arizona State dropped a 76-63 decision to UTEP on Dec. 16 which saw the Sun Devils go 1-for-18 from three and go scoreless for the last 5:34.

Bruins’ Chris Smith Shelved:

The Bruins announced before Saturday’s game that forward Chris Smith (12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) would missed the rest of the season due to a torn ACL in the win over Utah last Thursday. This thins UCLA’s rotation imperatively as four Bruin starters collected 33 or more minutes against Colorado while Jalen Hill came off the bench to play 21 minutes and he scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting. It looks like Hill will now start in the pivot and coach Mick Cornin will give more minutes to Jake Kyman and David Singleton in a 4-out, 1-in attack.

From the Den:

UCLA Bruins LogoUCLA was rolling offensively before Smith’s season ending injury as the Bruins were 11th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency which had the Bruins sitting with 113.6 points per 100 possession, per kenpom.com. The Bruins have had a slower average possession length of 18.7 seconds/314th.

Now it will be interesting to see the effect of the injury on the UCLA offense – and defense as well. Jaime Jaquez, Jr., is one of the more athletic players in the Pac-12 and will be key in creating matchups against the deeper Sun Devils who average 35.8 minutes of time from the bench. Point guard Tiger Campbell has been incredible with a 5-to-1 (65/15) assist-to-turnover ration as he averages 34.6 minutes per night.

Pitching Forks:

The triplicate of Remy Martin, Alonzo Verge, and Josh Christopher, the first McDonald’s all-American at ASU since James Harden, in the Arizona State back court is a tough matchup for generally anyone across the country and could be a major issue for the Bruins, who lack even more depth.

Christopher (16.9 ppg) and Martin (16.9 ppg) share scoring honors through the first seven games. Both players are shooting around 50 percent from the floor and they also get to the line where they both sit around 85 percent. Verge (15.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg) uses his quicks to create as well.

Where Arizona State’s defense is after a 22-day layoff remains to be seen. The Sun Devils were
Giving up 76.5 points per game while opponents were blistering the nets at a 45.6 percent pace. Their defensive effective field goal percentage is at 52.8 (263rd) while pace of play stands at 75 (possessions/per 100 minutes). Accentuating pace of play will be a major part of the Sun Devils’ game plan with their deeper bench and Smith’s injury. UCLA’s adjusted tempo is 65.2 possessions per 100 minutes – 342nd in the nation.

Winner: Arizona State (+1) 74, UCLA 70
O/U: Take UNDER 145

The Bets
Arizona State +1
-105
UNDER 145
-110
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.