The UCLA Bruins (0-1) will face the Cal State University Bakersfield Roadrunners (1-1) Friday night at 7:30 in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will be attempting to get their first win of the year after the disappointing double overtime loss to Cal State Fullerton on Monday night.
Bakersfield is a sound team that has played some good basketball already this year. They lost their opener to Santa Clara, 84-81, in a game that went down to the last shot. Santa Clara is a good team and is coached by former Bruin assistant Kerry Keating. In their second game the Roadrunners defeated Utah Valley 58-51. Both games were played in Bakersfield.
Bakersfield is coached by Keith Brown in his fifth season as head coach. This is the program's third season as a NCAA Division I program. Brown's teams always play sound defense and this year is no exception.
The leading scorers for the first two games have been 6-4 forward Trent Blakley who is averaging 19 points per game (ppg) and powerful 6-6 forward Santwon Latunde who is averaging 18 ppg. Latunde, weighing nearly 260 pounds, is very strong in the paint and is averaging 12 rebounds per game (rpg). In the Bakersfield scheme he is essentially playing as a power forward and sometimes a center. Blakley at 6-4 is more of a perimeter player and is a very good shooter with three point range.
The other starters for the Roadrunners are highly regarded 6-3 freshman Stephon Carter averaging 10.5 ppg, 6-3 junior Donavon Bragg 8.0 ppg and 6-2 point guard Bryan Emanuel averaging 4.0 ppg.
Bakersfield has a definite lack of height and this is something the Bruins should take advantage of. A strong rebounding effort will be necessary to defeat the Roadrunners.
We anticipate that the Bruins will have the following as the starting line-up: Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee, Michael Roll, Nikola Dragovic, and Drew Gordon. We also expect to see much more of Reeves Nelson and Mike Moser who coach Howland believes should have had more minutes Monday night.
In addition to rebounding well the Bruins will need to shoot the ball much better. Even with an advantage on the boards, 31% shooting is not going to win the game. The Bruins will be facing a team that has a chance to obtain a milestone victory against an elite program. Bakersfield will play even better than they did against Santa Clara.
Our best guess is that the Bruins will also play much better and win this game going away. However, if UCLA doesn't dominate the boards and shoot the ball significantly better, Bakersfield will have a good chance to head back over Tejon Pass with a victory they will never forget.