The Bruins did it again.
On the biggest stage with the brightest lights, UCLA dispatched Ohio State in a gritty hard fought game by a score of 86-73. OSU provided a great measuring stick game for the No. 2 Bruins. They’ve checked all the boxes early in the season and has exceeded all expectations. Non-conference wins at Kentucky, against Michigan and Ohio State has bolstered their early resume and set the Bruins up for success in March. Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf and both Alfords have lead the team to this 12-0 start.
Leaf showed the nation how good he really is with an outstanding string of performances which, earned him Pac-12 conference player of the week. After finally getting national attention, Leaf has been touted as one of the most underrated players in the nation with Ball getting all the attention on the UCLA team. Not to mention, he shoots his shot with Taylor Swift, I see you Leaf, I see you. I like Leaf as this underrated player though. My biggest fear with this Bruin basketball team is them realizing how good they really are. They need to go into the conference play as they did entering the season, trying to show the world just how good they really are.
But, bigger things are ahead for the Bruins. Conference play begins December 28 against Oregon in Eugene. This will be the Bruins second true road test of the season and they cannot take Oregon lightly. Oregon opened up the season as a top 10 team in the nation. After a few early season hiccups, they’ve finally come around and are playing like the team they were projected to be before the season. Coming into the season, the Bruins must have had this game circled. Oregon and Arizona are the only two threats in the Pac-12 to take the conference title away from UCLA. Steve Alford has a lot going for him and his team. The Bruins will have a six-day rest between the Oregon and Western Michigan game which, gives the bruins plenty of time to game plan for the Ducks. All this time will allow players to rest and come into the game at 100%.
The Ducks will be the only major test for UCLA in the coming days as they travel to Corvallis to play Oregon State two days after their game against Oregon. Weird things happen in Corvallis but, UCLA is much more talented than the Beavers and should be an easy game. That being said, I expect both Oregon and Oregon State to play the Bruins close but UCLA will win both games in the end. I am excited to see how this young team reacts to an away conference game. Ball and Leaf have to show up along with Bryce Alford and the big men down low. Predictions for the scores will be: 89-80 against Oregon and 93-82 against Oregon State.