UCLA has gotten the better of Pac-10 rival Arizona over the last two seasons.
The fifth-ranked Bruins look for a fifth straight victory in the series when they try to spoil the No. 19 Wildcats' home finale on Saturday.UCLA (22-3, 11-2) swept three meetings against Arizona (17-8, 8-6) last season and held on for a 73-69 victory on Jan. 20.The Bruins ended an eight-game losing streak in Tucson with an 85-79 victory last season that also ended their four-game slide in the series.UCLA, which is 4-3 on the road, is one-half game ahead of No. 10 Washington State for first place in the conference. The Bruins realize that Saturday's game and a trip to face the Cougars on March 1 will go a long way toward determining the champion."We haven't been a particularly good road team," guard Arron Afflalo said. "We have to do a better job keeping our composure and staying poised when we don't have the support system behind us."Afflalo has been a big reason why the Bruins have enjoyed recent success against the Wildcats. The junior guard is averaging 20.8 points while shooting nearly 60 percent over the last four meetings.It's been a far different story for Arizona senior point guard Mustafa Shakur in those games. Shakur is averaging 13.0 points and 7.3 assists this season, but he has averaged just 6.3 points and 4.3 assists over the last four matchups against the Bruins, shooting only 25 percent.Shakur and fellow senior Ivan Radenovic will be honored in a ceremony after their final home game. Forward Kirk Walters is also a senior, but is expected to receive a medical redshirt after playing just three minutes this season."It's been great," said Shakur. "I've had a lot of support here over the four years."The Wildcats have dropped three of their last four home games after committing 16 turnovers in an 80-75 loss to USC on Thursday. The Trojans shot 50.8 percent, becoming the third visiting opponent in the last four games to make at least half its shots at McKale Center."The biggest thing for us now is to get ready for Saturday," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "We cannot do anything about this. I thought the crowd was fantastic and they have been great all year long."They could not have worked harder for us than they did tonight. But now, we just have to take care of the basketball on the court to get a team like UCLA."Afflalo scored 24 points as UCLA posted a 67-61 victory at Arizona State on Thursday. Point guard Darren Collison returned after missing last Saturday's loss at West Virginia with a shoulder injury and scored a career-high 18 points.UCLA coach Ben Howland wasn't happy that his team forced only nine turnovers and allowed the Sun Devils to shoot just under 48 percent."We've just got to play better," Howland said. "When you're a top-10 team, you're going to get everybody's best shot."The Bruins also won despite a scoreless effort from forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who has just three points while shooting 1-of-12 shooting over his last two games. Mbah a Moute averaged 13.3 points over the Bruins' three previous games.