San Diego vs. UCLA Preview


Fresh off a hard-fought loss to San Diego State, the San Diego Toreros continue their toughest portion of their schedule with a trip to face the UCLA Bruins. The game against the Aztecs may have been the highest ranked non-conference opponent San Diego will face this season, but the Bruins carry the most name recognition. It’s a wonderful opportunity to garner some attention on the West Coast to be facing such a well known opponent.

UCLA Bruins (6-2) vs. San Diego Toreros (4-4)

When: Sunday, December 7th at 4:00 PM Pacific

Where: Pauley Pavilion (Los Angeles, CA)

Video: Pac-12 Network

Live Stats: StatBroadcast


The Toreros are facing a quick turnaround for the UCLA game coming off a big game against San Diego State on Thursday. Fortunately both games are close to home as the Toreros only had to travel across town to face the Aztecs and now only have to head a few hours up the freeway to visit the Bruins.

The Toreros played a competitive game against the Aztecs in a very tough environment, but they never seriously threatened the bigger and more athletic Aztecs. Johnny Dee was the only Torero to hit double figures, and his game-high 16 points wasn’t enough as the Toreros lost their ninth straight game to the Aztecs in a 57-48 defeat.

The Bruins are coming off a blowout 73-45 win over Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday. They dropped out of the top 25 this week after losing two of their three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis the week of Thanksgiving. They are working on rebuilding momentum after that trip as they prepare for a big matchup against Gonzaga on December 13th in Los Angeles. The game against the Toreros is the second in a four game homestand that concludes with that game against the Bulldogs.


San Diego

Johnny Dee (20.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG)

Chris Anderson (9.0 PPG, 8.4 APG)

Thomas Jacobs (7.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG)

Brett Bailey (4.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG)

Jito Kok (8.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 BPG)


Norman Powell (17.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.4 SPG)

Bryce Alford (17.1 PPG, 7.1 APG)

Isaac Hamilton (11.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG)

Tony Parker (11.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG)

Kevon Looney (13.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.78 BPG)


San Diego: Chris Anderson – He was our player to watch in the San Diego State game, and we said if he had an off night the Toreros had no chance with the way he controls the offense. Sure enough had an abysmal game with zero points on 0-15 shooting, and the Toreros struggled. The assists numbers are always there, but with little inside presence and no consistent scorers outside of Dee, it’s imperative that Anderson gets going. He needs to be scoring in double digits and putting up 8-10 assists in games like this one to even think about the Toreros having a chance at the upset.

It’s also worth watching Duda Sanadze. A lot of added pressure has been put on Anderson and Dee with his struggles. Sanadze has been battling plantar fasciitis since seemingly the beginning of the season, and he missed the San Diego State game. Having him back and doing well chances things a lot, so if he is sluggish our out completely guys like Anderson will need to really step up.

December 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Kevon Looney (5) controls the ball against the Cal State Fullerton Titans during the first half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA: Kevon Looney – The Toreros have a lot of trouble with bigger teams due to their lack of size. Dominant post players with good rebounding ability are a nightmare matchup for San Diego, and they are going up against one of the best they will see all season in Kevon Looney. He is averaging a double-double this season, and he will without a doubt have a big game and help the Bruins easily out-rebound the Toreros.

The goal for San Diego isn’t to stop him necessarily, just keep him from having a big game. If they can cut down his scoring numbers that will be a big help, and the defense of Jito Kok will be a big factor. The Toreros will gladly let Kok regress into his old self of having no offense and just quality defense if it means slowing down Looney evevn a little bit.



While the shots weren’t falling against San Diego State, the Toreros did a good job of not being intimated by a superior opponent. They didn’t show fear of the bigger Aztecs or the raucous crowd, and had their shots started falling they were playing well enough to be in that game. They need to take some of that fearlessness and confidence into this game against the Bruins, because it will be a very similar game. They will be dealing with a large crowd and a bigger, more talented team just the same way they did when playing the Aztecs.

In that way, this games comes at a perfect time. They are fresh off a big game against a similar type of team, so they can use what they learned and improve upon it with the game still very fresh in their minds. In some ways going into another tough game so soon is bad, but in reality this could be perfect timing for an upset.


The difference in these two offenses is striking. The Toreros have just one player averaging double-digit points as they choose to go with a balanced offense. A whopping 14 of their 15 players are averaging at least one point or more per game, and that’s because all 14 of them have been seeing regular minutes in most games. The upside is that it gives the Toreros a lot of options, but the downside is that nobody is doing a very good job of being a consistent scorer forcing Bill Grier to keep rotating players and changing the looks he gives the opponent.

UCLA meanwhile has a very consistent and talented starting five. Every single one is averaging double figures, and as a result the only consistently employ three reserves who don’t contribute much. Like any good UCLA team they are top-heavy with elite players, and it will be impossible for the Toreros to stop all of them.

This is why defense will be so important. The Toreros aren’t going to score much, and the Bruins have the potential to score a ton. The goal will be to at least slow UCLA down and hope enough shots are falling that they can stay in the game. As we mentioned Kok stopping Looney inside will be big, as the preference will be to limit him and Tony Park inside. Better to force the scorers to shoot from the outside and hope they go cold. If the Toreros can get into a shootout, that’s the way they have a shot. Matching them jumper for jumper with their accurate shooters is the strategy San Diego must employ, and that will start with some lockdown defense.


The Toreros need help, plain and simple. Dee cannot do this alone, and Anderson is still not a consistent enough scorer. Guys like Kok and Thomas Jacobs have shown flashes of brilliance, but they seem to run very hot and cold the same way Anderson does. And even if they all get it going at the same time, it’s still not enough to beat a very talented and consistent team like the Bruins.

San Diego needs to pull out all the stops and hope a big group of guys have big games. Many guys have potential, but it’s a matter of it all coming together. We are still waiting for breakout performances from freshman like Marcus Harris and Vasa Pusica as well as veterans like Brett Bailey and Brandon Perry. If the Toreros get the upset, expect someone from that group or another one of the deeper rotation players to have played a big part in the win.

If the whole roster besides Dee and possibly Anderson or Jacobs or Kok is still contributing little to nothing, the Toreros have no chance. The Bruins are a lock to have 3-5 players in double figures, so the Toreros need at least that many guys to do the same to have a chance. Unfortunately unlike the talented Bruins, that’s a big reach for the Toreros. In fact San Diego has had three or players hit double-digits in only half their games so far this season, and never have they had five or more players reach double figures. Considering the Bruins have five players who consistently hit double figures every single game, this will be an uphill battle.


More from West Coast Convo

The Toreros had a better shot to beat San Diego State than they do UCLA despite the Aztecs being the higher ranked team. The Aztecs might be a better team, but the Bruins have better individual players. They will get at least 2-3 dominant performances while the Toreros will likely continue to struggle to find consistent contributors. Dee will score, Anderson will dish assists, and beyond that the Toreros may not get much else. They are a resilient team and and should hang around for a while, but talent will prevail and the Bruins should end up cruising to victory after pulling away sometime early in the second half.