Arizona State (2-4) at Tulsa (4-4)- 1:00 p.m P.T.
ASU is coming off an 1-2 record in the Old Spice Classic tournament in Orlando, Fl, losing to Fairfield 55-44 in the first round and Depaul 68-64 in the final game. The lone win came against Wake Forest 84-65 in the second round of the tourney, which showcased an emergence of their sophomore wing player Kaela King to go along with the already consistent play of All Pac 10 second team performer in Trent Lockett. King averaged 23.5 ppg in the last two games and Lockett put up 18 points and 9 rebounds over the three. Tulsa is looking to end a two game losing streak. The last game was a nail bitter coming down to the final minutes against a instate rival Oklahoma State. The Golden Hurricanes will rely on their leading scorer and most consistent player Jordan Clarkson to lead them to victory. The sophomore point guard averages 15 ppg. Rebounding will be the biggest key of the game. Tulsa is one of the better rebounding teams in the country with a +11 differential in their fist eight games. Today will be too much ASU. The team is finally clicking and confidence is building. It will be a grind, but they will end up victorious
Texas (4-2) at UCLA (2-4)- 1:30 p.m. P.T.
Texas is a team with great guards. Longhorns lost a lot of fire power to the NBA draft in losing Jordan Hamilton, Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson. Guard play continues to be the story with this team after an easy win against North Texas 73-57 led by the scoring and dishing of highly touted freshman guard Myck Kabongo. Junior guard J’Covan Brown is picking up where he left off last year with his scoring. He is the teams leading scorer at 20 ppg. UCLA has struggled all year, even with an easy win against Pepperdine in the last game. Bruins have some great pieces in place with the transfer of the Wear twins from North Carolina joining a front court of Forward Reeves Nelson and Center Josh Smith. Scoring has been balanced. Only two Bruins are averaging in double figure scoring, but five players averaging eight or more points, Jerime Anderson 11.0 ppg, Travis Wear, 10.0 ppg, “Zeke” Jones 9.8 ppg, Tyler Lamb 8.8 ppg, and Josh Smith 8.2 ppg. This will be an interesting game. UCLA has size and length, but Texas has a team full of quick guards. UCLA struggles against teams with great guard play.
Oregon (4-1) at BYU (5-2)- 2:00 p.m. P.T.
Oregon players are starting to buy into Coach Dana Altman’s system, which is translating to success on the floor. In his second season, senior leaders E.J. Singler (12.6 ppg) and Garrett Sim (11.6 ppg) are leading the charge with double figures scoring on the season. With the addition of Sophomore Johnathan Loyd (10.0 ppg), the trio is responsible for 35 of the 74 points team averages per game. The last game against UTEP was a display of Loyd’s three point shooting ability. He made a career high six three point shots in a 24 point effort where Oregon was victorious. BYU is a team that loves the three ball. For those who can remember, the team with a player named Jimmer can flat out shoot. As a team the Cougars shot 41% from three with three different players shooting above 40% on the season, Charles Abouo (57.1%), Noah Hartsock (45.5%), and Brock Zylstra (41.4%). BYU also shoots above 51% in two point field goals. The offense will be too much for the Ducks to handle.
Northern Arizona (2-5) at Arizona (5-2) 3:30 p.m P.T.
Northern Arizona comes in to Tucson losing two in a row. The last of which was by the high scoring BYU Cougars who had a run away victory. In the season, the Lumberjacks have not had much luck on the offensive end. They are turning the ball over more than they force them. However, they have been successful out rebounding their opponent 40-35 per game. Freshman guard James Douglas is one of the bright spots of the program. He only averages 12.6 per game, but he has scored 14 points or more in four out of seven games. NAU will be reliant on him if they have a chance against Arizona. The Wildcats season has been very inconsistent. A young team is learning to grow up quickly because three freshman in the normal rotation. A hard fought road victory at New Mexico State University allowed Sean Miller to stumble upon a rotation that will give them the best chances of winning. Freshman guard Nick Johnson made his first start of the season scoring 19 points. The biggest play of the night was the emphatic dunk he made while drawing the foul. Arizona did not look back after that play. Jesse Perry also had a big game with 15 point and 12 rebounds. Tonight, Arizona will use this game as confidence builder because it should not be close in the end. I expect the Wild Cats to run away with the game by the second half.
Eastern Washington (4-2) at Washington State (3-4) 3:30 p.m. P.T.
EWU is coming off its first three game winning streak on the season. The Eagles are limiting mistakes, averaging 12 turn overs a game. A great key to being successful is limiting mistakes and not giving you opposition more opportunities to score. It also helps when you shoot well from behind the arc. Colin Chiverton (45.7%) and Cliff Colimon (41.7%) are both shooting about 41% from behind the arc. They make guard Jeffery Forbes job easier. Even Forbes is shooting an even 40% from three. Eagles make it extremely difficult for teams to play zone. The game outcome will often be determined by the three point makes. WSU is a deflated team trying to find life without first round NBA draft pick Klay Thompson. Junior guard Reggie Moore has taken more of a leadership role with the young team. Forward Brock Motum has put together a string of strong performances to show that he can be a force down low. Against the Cougars last opponent, Motum recorded his first double-double game of 11 points and 10 rebounds. WSU started strong and did not look back. The final score was 69-37. It is very tough to pick a winner for this game. Given that the game is being played in Pullman, WA, I give the slight edge to Washington State. Cougars feast off the crowd energy and become victorious in Interstate 195 battle.
Prediction: Washington State