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February 2, 2008
MORE: Head-to-Head Breakdown
Warning: The contents of Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night will be highly combustible. Do not attempt to watch without protective goggles and oven mitts.
If the hottest player in college basketball at the moment isn't UCLA's Kevin Love or Darren Collison then it's Arizona's Chase Budinger. The Wildcats are riding a four-game winning streak, including takedowns of Washington State and USC, largely on the play of their 6-foot-7 sophomore forward. Budinger has topped the 20-point mark in each of the four games, including 29 Thursday night in an 80-69 triumph over the Trojans.
Budinger is shooting 52.5 percent (32 of 61) during the stretch, including 48.5 percent (16 of 33) from 3-point range, and averaging 24.3 points. More importantly, he and freshman sensation Jerryd Bayless are developing together.
"We're starting to find each other's hot spots and where we like the ball," Budinger told Rivals.com. "Each game we're getting better together."
So are Collison and Love. The junior point guard and the freshman center have been nearly unstoppable the past three games. Collison is averaging 23 points and six assists and shooting 67.7 percent (21 of 31) during the stretch. Love is averaging 20.7 points and 16.3 rebounds in the three games and is shooting 69.7 percent (23 of 33).
The game is on national TV (9 p.m., EST). It should be sizzling. Here's a closer look at the Wildcats-Bruins matchup:
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.