After UCLA surgically dismantled the Runnin’ Utes on Thursday night, the Bruins return to the hardwood this evening with a national over-the-air broadcast on Fox against the Colorado Buffaloes. As Dimitri pointed in Thursday’s postgame article, the Bruins are currently playing like one of the best teams in the country.
On the other hand, the Colorado Buffaloes, tonight’s opponent, has been up and down. After sweeping the Oregon schools last weekend, they lost to Southern Cal on Thursday, 68-61. They have also lost to two of the worst teams in the Pac-12 — UC Berkeley and Washington. But the Buffs have beaten two ranked teams this season, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
So, Colorado can become a tough team to beat if the Bruins aren’t dialed in the way they were on Thursday night. Now, should that happen? Of course not. But, as Chris Berman was fond of saying, that’s why they play the games.
Let’s look at the Buffs’ starting five.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle will probably start a lineup consisting of three guards, a forward and a center.
Only two of the Buffalo starters are averaging in double figures. Sophomore guard KJ Simpson leads the Buffs with an average of 17.8 ppg. He also leads the team with 66 assists. Simpson has also taken 242 shots, the most on the team, but he isn’t as accurate as Tristan da Silva who is the other Buffalo averaging in double figures. The junior forward from Germany whose brother Oscar played at Stanford is averaging 14.9 ppg. Not only does da Silva have the second best shooting percentage on the team with 52.5%, the fact that he’s taken 200 shots means he’s the team’s most deadly shooter. He also leads the team in steals with 27.
While junior guard J’Vonne Hadley’s 55.6% shooting percentage is the best on the team, the fact that he has only taken 108 shots means that he isn’t as big of a threat as Simpson or da Silva. In fact, that is the reason why Hadley is only averaging 8.9 ppg. One stat which seems to show a reason why the Buffs have struggled is the fact that Hadley leads the team in rebounds with an average of 6.2 per game rather than forward da Silva or center Lawson Lovering.
The Buffs’ third guard is junior Nique Clifford. Clifford averages just 6.3 ppg, but it looks like he’s in the lineup for his defense. Clifford, who is 6’6” tall, is second on the Buffs in blocks with 12. Only Lovering has more.
Speaking of Lovering, the 7’1” tall center is only third on Colorado in rebounds with an average of 4.5 per game. When your big man is averaging just 3.8 ppg and not leading your team in rebounds, you may have a problem. At least Lovering leads the Buffaloes in blocks with 19.
Look for three backup guards to get plenty of playing time. Yale grad transfer Jalen Gabbidon averages 6.0 ppg. True freshman Javon Ruffin has been averaging 5.6 ppg. Junior Luke O’Brien is averaging 4.8 ppg. Each of these guys should see significant time this evening.
The bottom line here is that this game shouldn’t even be close, and it won’t be unless the Bruins come out flat.
Tonight’s game will be on Pac-12 Networks with Ted Robinson and national treasure Bill Walton calling the game. Personally, I’m not sure why you would want to turn down the volume and not listen to Big Red, but if you do, you can listen to Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray. Just be sure to right-click on it so that you can open up another tab and have it going while you chat in the comments below. Listen to today’s game online.
This is your UCLA men’s basketball vs. Utah Utes game thread. Here’s how to watch tonight’s game:
Opponent: Colorado Buffaloes (11-7, 3-4)
Series Record: UCLA leads, 16-7
When: 5:00 pm PT, Saturday, January 14, 2023
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Fox with Tim Brando and Jim Jackson
Live Stream: FoxSports.com and the Fox Sports app
Local Radio: AM 570 with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 108 and XM Ch. 198 (UCLA Call)
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
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