When: Thursday, 12 p.m. PT
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: AM 570
Scouting the Bruins: Top-seeded UCLA enters the tournament having won five of its past six games and seven of its past nine en route to the Pac-12 regular season title. It was the 31st conference title for the Bruins and the fourth in the past eight seasons. The Bruins led the conference in scoring (75 points per game) and field-goal percentage (45.8), but those numbers are down to 68.8 and 42 percent over the past four games. Shabazz Muhammad, a freshman All-American and conference co-freshman of the year, is averaging a team-best 18.3 points for UCLA. Point guard Larry Drew II continues to run the offense effectively and set the UCLA single-season record for assists (239) Saturday in the regular-season finale. Jordan Adams is averaging 15.2 points and should have some extra motivation after getting snubbed in the all-conference voting. Kyle Anderson is averaging close to a double-double over the past four games, but scored only eight points on 4-of-13 shooting (30.7 percent) in two games on the Washington trip last week. Travis Wear appeared to regain form after missing significant time with a foot injury. He played 31 minutes and scored 10 points against Washington. Those were his most minutes played since Feb. 7, and his most points since Feb. 14.
Scouting the Sun Devils: Arizona State stumbled to the regular-season finish line with four consecutive losses and six losses in its last eight games, but bounced back with a nice 89-88 overtime victory over Stanford Wednesday in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament. The late-season slide by the Sun Devils removed them from the NCAA tournament bubble, and they are now in the unenviable position of needing to win the conference tournament to make the big dance. A player such as conference co-freshman of the year Jahii Carson should help. He’s averaging 18.3 points and had a career-high 34 on 14-of-22 shooting Wednesday in the tournament opener against Stanford. Carson is averaging 23.5 points in his past four games. Wing Carrick Felix, a second-team all Pac-12 selection, is averaging 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds and had 19 and 12 against Stanford. The Sun Devils are the No. 2 shooting team in the conference at 45.7 percent, but they are last in the conference in free throw shooting at 61.7 percent. The latter stat could haunt them at this time of the year when games tend to be close down the stretch.
The series: UCLA leads the all-time series, 62-18. They split two regular-season games this season with each team winning at home. The Sun Devils handed UCLA its largest margin of defeat this season in a 78-60 ASU victory Jan. 26 in Tempe. The Bruins defeated the Sun Devils, 79-74, in overtime Feb. 27 at Pauley Pavilion. The teams have not met in the conference tournament since UCLA’s 79-78 semifinal victory in 1990. Their only other conference tournament meeting was the second round in 1987, which UCLA won, 99-83.