UCLA Bruins vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 16th 2023

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Either Ohio State or UCLA will rebound from a tough loss when they clash in Atlanta on Saturday.

The young Bruins (5-3) were in a tight contest at Villanova last Saturday before the Wildcats went on a late run to propel them to a 65-56 victory.

Ohio State (8-2) was cruising toward what would have been its eighth straight win last Saturday but blew an 18-point lead in the second half to drop an 83-80 decision to Penn State.

“I think the biggest challenge for us has been our group understanding the importance of sustaining an effort and focusing for longer stretches of time regardless of where the score is,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “We know college basketball, teams are going to make runs, especially when they’re at home. That’s the reality. But what can we do to control it? We can certainly be more on point with our focus, our concentration and our effort in the midst of those situations.”

UCLA coach Mick Cronin said a factor in the Villanova setback was losing guard Dylan Andrews due to cramping with about eight minutes left and the Bruins up by four. The sophomore guard is a part of the 12 first- or second-season players on the roster.

“We’re just not tough enough right now,” Cronin said. “Our margin for error isn’t what it has been. We’re the youngest team in the country playing a team (Villanova) that’s maybe the oldest team in the country. We can’t have those kind of mistakes.”

Andrews will be available Saturday.

For the Buckeyes, Holtmann said Thursday that guards Scotty Middleton (ankle) and Roddy Gayle Jr. (ankle, wrist) are day-to-day. He also said he’s encouraged they’ll be ready by game time.

The Buckeyes will need them to help crack a stout UCLA defense that has kept every opponent under 72 points (58.8 average).

“Probably as good of a defensive team as we’ll play all year, certainly the best defensive team we’ll have played up until this point,” Holtmann said. “I think UCLA is a bona fide (NCAA) Tournament team.”

–Field Level Media

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