Stanford, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 23rd-ranked UCLA Bruins will try to remain hot when they tangle with the Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-12 Conference clash at Maples Pavilion.
UCLA has quietly been advancing on fourth-ranked Arizona in the Pac-12 title chase. An impressive road victory against California (86-66) on Wednesday was the seventh win in the last eight games for the Bruins, who are 21-5 overall and just a game back of the Wildcats in the conference standings (10-3). They will play their next two games at home against Oregon and Oregon State.
Stanford finds itself more toward the middle of the competitive Pac-12, with an 8-5 mark in league play, which has it tied with Arizona State and California for fourth place. The Cardinal have won four of their last five games, including key victories against the Sun Devils, who they face next time out, and the Golden Bears.
These teams are nearly a month removed from their last meeting. That contest did not go well for Stanford, which was routed in a 91-74 final at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA has the upper hand in most of its Pac-12 rivalries, and this one is no different, as the Bruins lead by a 139-91 margin.
Although UCLA shot 56.9 percent from the floor, including an 8-of-16 showing from beyond the arc, the most impressive part of its recent win over California was the effort it put forth on defense. The Bruins held the Golden Bears' leading scorer Justin Cobbs to only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting, while forcing more than twice as any turnovers (13) as they committed (six).
It is rare to mention UCLA's defense ahead of its offense. The Bruins are an extremely potent group when it comes to putting points on the board. They rank in the top-10 nationally in scoring (83.2 ppg), field goal percentage (.497) and assists (17.6 apg). The versatile Kyle Anderson (15.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.8 apg) is the leader of the group, topping the Pac-12 in assists and ranking fifth in rebounds. He flirted with a triple-double in the win over Cal, totaling 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Jordan Adams (17.5 ppg) is the best pure scorer on the roster, and he is coming off a 28-point effort against the Golden Bears. Adding depth are Norman Powell (11.1 ppg) and Zach LaVine (10.4 ppg).
Stanford also had an easy time on Thursday night, as it blasted visiting USC, 80-59. The Cardinal only connected on 40.6 percent of their shots from the floor, but they held the Trojans to just 36.2 percent, while forcing 18 turnovers and committing only seven.
The Cardinal do not post the same type of flashy offensive numbers as does UCLA, but they are netting a respectable 75.4 ppg while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor -- ranking sixth in the Pac-12 in each category. Chasson Randle's (18.5 ppg) efforts this season could be classified as potent, however, as he is fourth in the conference in scoring. He struggled with his shot against USC (4-of-15), but got himself to the free-throw line enough times to tally 18 points. The real strength of the team is on the inside, where Dwight Powell (15 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.8 apg), who is one of the best passers from the paint, and Josh Huestis (10.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg) set up shop. Anthony Brown (13.3 ppg) is also a productive member of the squad.