We have a Southern California showdown with the No. 2 UCLA Bruins (11-0, 0-0) hosting the No. 6 USC Trojans (10-0, 0-0) at 8 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network.
With both teams being bitter rivals, undefeated and highly ranked, the Pac-12 couldn’t have asked for a better way to begin conference play than these two teams playing each another.
Will JuJu Watkins overwhelm UCLA?
We can talk Xs and Os until the cows come home, but this game’s success is ultimately predicated on JuJu Watkins. She is having one of the best seasons in all of basketball and the fact she’s a freshman is just baffling.
She’s averaging 26.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game and has had five games with 30-plus points this year. As long as Watkins is on the floor, USC can beat anyone on any given day and stopping her, or just slowing her down, should be priority one, two, and three for UCLA.
They have a sold-out house, Lauren Betts and Kiki Rice. The Bruins have to win at home and prove that they are the team to beat in the Pac-12. With five players averaging more than 10 points per game, they have plenty of offensive weapons to worry about compared to the Trojans, who are more star-centric with Watkins.
The game won’t be easy, but the Bruins have to win if they want to stay near the top of the AP poll and dominate the Pac-12. The conference has a lot of talent this year, but, if you consider your team the cream of the crop, these are the games you need to win.
Expect a close game between these two. Both are elite programs and watching Watkins attempt to dominate the Bruins on the road will be entertaining. Late game execution will be what this game will come down to. Can Watkins close out the Bruins on the road? Or, will UCLA take care of the basketball, have Lauren Betts grab big-time boards and hit free throws late to secure the home win?
No. 6 USC Trojans (10-0, 0-0) vs. No. 2 UCLA Bruins (11-0, 0-0)
When: Saturday, Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA
How to watch: Pac-12 Network