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February 2, 2008

Bruins to host Cats

UCLA freshman Kevin Love didn't struggle to adjust to the college game early this season, but he's been even more impressive lately. The same can be said for Arizona freshman Jerryd Bayless.

Love and the fifth-ranked Bruins go for their sixth straight win over Bayless' Wildcats when the freshman standouts meet for the first time in a Pac-10 matchup at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.

Love had 22 points and 13 rebounds in his first NCAA game, and has scored at least 11 points in each of his first 21 to help the Bruins (19-2, 7-1) take the Pac-10 lead near the halfway point of conference play.

The 6-foot-10 center has been even more productive in his last five games, posting a double-double in each contest and averaging 21.4 points and 15.0 rebounds while shooting 63.3 percent from the field.

Love had 20 points and 10 boards and went 9-for-11 from the field as UCLA cruised to an 84-51 win over Arizona State on Thursday.

"It was one of those nights where we really played together," he said.

Bayless had 18 points and five assists in his collegiate debut, and ranks third in the Pac-10 with 19.3 points per game.

Though he was held to 10 points in Arizona's 80-69 win at Southern California on Thursday, the 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 20.8 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 55.6 percent from the field during the Wildcats' four-game win streak.

Arizona (15-6, 5-3) hasn't won more than four straight conference games since a seven-game run Feb. 3-24, 2005.

The Wildcats will put their current win streak on the line against the Bruins, who have won the last five meetings in the series - their longest run against Arizona since they won 11 in a row 1979-84.

UCLA has a good chance at extending that streak if it can continue its hot shooting. The Bruins are shooting 51.6 percent from the field in their seven conference wins, including 52.5 percent in three games since being held to 33.3 percent in a loss to Southern California on Jan. 19. They shot a season-high 58.5 percent Thursday in their most lopsided Pac-10 win of the season.

"I just thought our play was exceptional tonight," said UCLA coach Ben Howland, whose team shot 31-for-53, including 8-for-12 from 3-point range. "I told the team afterward that's the best we've attacked the zone in my five years here, by far."

The UCLA defense also stepped up, holding Derek Glasser to 13 points - more than five below his season average.

"That was one of the best defensive jobs we've done all year on a team's leading scorer," Howland said. "I thought Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Russell Westbrook both did a great job. Everybody is connected. It was all good.

"Now, we've got to bounce back here and get ready for a very tough opponent."

This game will be Arizona's fifth against a ranked team, all in the top 10. Arizona is 2-2 in those games, including a 76-64 victory over then-No. 6 Washington State on Jan. 24.



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