T-7: UCLA Bruins (10-8, 3-2 Pac-12) LW: 5
The UCLA Bruins have had a confusing, and relatively upsetting, season to say the least. Coming into the year, the hype was real, the talent was tangible and expectations were very high in Westwood.
After a demoralizing loss to Liberty on Dec. 29, the firing of coach Steve Alford brought a breath of fresh air into a stale locker room.
The new energy slingshot the Bruins into a three-game winning streak and showcased signs of life heading into the new year.
Kris Wilkes has been particularly effective putting the ball in the bucket since that loss. He’s averaged 16 points, six rebounds and two assists per game. While his efficiency hasn’t been great, his volume scoring has been vital to the mid-season push.
Since that three-game tango however, UCLA has once again slipped on the fast-break with a wide open layup just a few dribbles away.
Two straight double-digit losses has sent interim coach Murry Batrow on a search for the answers to make this turnaround official. Back-to-back 13-point losses to Oregon State and USC stopped their momentum and sent UCLA back into their familiar losing ways.
The road the doesn’t get any easier this week either. With Arizona State and UA headed to Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins are slated to take on two of the Pac-12’s hottest teams. This weekend could be a make-or-break for their 2019 conference season.