Oregon St.-UCLA Preview
The Beavers ended a 13-game losing streak to the Bruins last season but are winless in Pac-12 play entering Thursday night's matchup at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA (14-3, 4-0) has won nine straight to move back into the rankings at No. 24 after dropping out following losses Nov. 19 to Georgetown and Nov. 25 to Cal Poly.
Oregon State (10-6, 0-3) is on a three-game losing streak, just as it was going into these teams' lone matchup last season before winning 87-84 at home for its first victory over UCLA since March 10, 2005.
"We know Oregon State is going to come in here and play really well," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "Starks and Nelson are a very good backcourt, and they're very dangerous, they're both capable of scoring 25 points in a given game.
"And then Collier, who we really like inside, he's strong, he hurt us, they beat us last year so we're going to be very motivated against Oregon State."
UCLA twins Travis and David Wear combined for 32 points on 16-of-22 shooting in last season's meeting, but their post defense was lacking against Collier and Brandt - who is out for the season with a torn right ACL.
The Bruins big men should enjoy an even bigger advantage Thursday since Beavers forwards Eric Moreland and Victor Robbins are suspended.
"We'll be short-handed on Thursday for hopefully the last time ever and then those guys will be back on Saturday," coach Craig Robinson said.
Oregon State is off to its worst start in conference play since going 0-18 five years ago. The Beavers have dropped 16 of 18 conference road games entering their first Pac-12 trip of the season.
"They're coming off three losses and they've all been at home so they'll probably be happy to be on the road," Howland said.
UCLA is the conference's highest-scoring team at 78.5 points per game while Oregon State is fourth at 75.7. These teams yield the most points in the Pac-12, with the Beavers allowing an average of 69.4 and the Bruins 68.1.
Playing at its usual quick tempo figures to be a challenge Thursday for Oregon State, which used eight players in Saturday's 80-70 loss to then-No. 4 Arizona.
"They are playing more like we are playing this season so they are playing up and down," said Robinson about UCLA. "So what we want to do is make sure that we being short-handed can last with them going up and down."
Collier, who had 13 points and a career-high 15 boards against the Wildcats, is shooting 53.5 percent to rank among the conference leaders. He's ahead of Travis Wear, who is at 50.9 percent after making 11 of 17 attempts for a season-high 23 points in Saturday's 78-75 win at Colorado.
UCLA boasts two of the best freshmen scorers in the country in Shabazz Muhammad (18.2 points per game) and Jordan Adams (16.4). The production of both is down in conference play with Muhammad at 14.8 and Adams at 12.3.
The Beavers, who have dropped eight straight at Pauley Pavilion, have lost 33 of 34 against ranked foes and haven't beaten one on the road since 1985.