Conference play is getting rolling nice and early, and the Bruins will open things up with a home matchup against the physical Buffaloes.
WHO: UCLA vs. Colorado
DATE: Wednesday, Dec. 1
TIME: 6:36 p.m. PT
LOCATION: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Pac-12 Networks – Ted Robinson (play-by-play), Bill Walton (analyst)
STREAMING: fuboTV – Get 7-day Free Trial
RADIO: AM 1150, Sirius Ch. 146, XM Ch. 197, SXM App 959 – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
SPREAD: UCLA -13.5 (-110), Colorado +13.5 (-110)*
MONEY LINE: UCLA (-901), Colorado (+600)*
OVER/UNDER: O 139 (-110), U 139 (-110)*
UCLA is the No. 5 team in the country according to both the AP and Coaches Polls, sliding down from No. 2 after losing to Gonzaga on Nov. 23. Colorado did not receive votes in either poll and was picked to finish sixth in the preseason Pac-12 media poll.
The Bruins went 22-10 last season, including an 11-1 record at home. Dating back to the start of the 2016-2017 season, they are 71-13 at home. UCLA finished off last season by making a run from the First Four to the Final Four, narrowly losing to then-undefeated Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater in overtime.
The Buffaloes went 23-9 last season, including a 6-6 record on the road. Over the past four seasons, they are 16-32 on the road. Colorado was a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament last year and lost in the Round of 32 to No. 4 seed Florida State.
UCLA is off to a 6-1 start to this season, losing to No. 1 Gonzaga after opening the season 5-0, then recovering with a road win over UNLV. The Bruins are averaging 84.3 points per game and allowing 67.6.
Colorado is 6-1 so far in 2021, beating Montana State in overtime, New Mexico and Maine before losing to Southern Illinois, then recovering with wins over Duquesne, Brown and Stanford. The Buffaloes are averaging 78.9 points per game and allowing 69.0.
The Bruins opened the year with all five starters and the whole bench returning from last year's Final Four team, but reserve big man Mac Etienne suffered a season-ending right knee injury in practice and forward Cody Riley sprained his left knee Nov. 9 and is out for at least one more game. Leading scorers Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Jules Bernard and Tyger Campbell are all returning to carry the load, with Jaylen Clark, David Singleton and Jake Kyman coming off the bench, Rutgers center Myles Johnson transferring in during the offseason and five-star freshman wing Peyton Watson joining the fray as well.
Juzang is the top scorer so far this season with 17.4 points per game, while Jaquez and Bernard are averaging 15.6 and 14.6 a night, respectively.
Big man Evan Battey is the leading man for the Buffaloes, as he averages a team-high 14.9 points per game to go along with 4.6 rebounds at 6-foot-8 and 262 pounds. Taking over for NBA-bound point guard McKinley Wright is Keeshawn Barthelemy, who has been elevated from a bench role and is averaging 14.6 points and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 50% from 3-point range. Forward Jabari Walker is their third double-digit scorer at 13.9 points per game, also putting up 9.3 rebounds a night, while forward Tristan Da Silva and guard Eli Parquet make up the rest of the starting five.
Most notably, Colorado ranks No. 3 in the country in free throws made and No. 5 in attempts.
Mick Cronin is now in his 19th season as a head coach, and he has an all-time record of 412-194 with 12 NCAA tournament appearances across stints at Murray State, Cincinnati and UCLA. Tad Boyle is in his first year as a head coach, and he has an all-time record of 291-186 with five NCAA tournament appearances across stints at Colorado and Northern Colorado.
UCLA is 14-7 against Colorado head-to-head, but they lost the most recent matchup 70-61 in Boulder. The Bruins are 3-1 against the Buffaloes under Cronin.
*Odds via SI Sportsbook