No. 20 UCLA knows firsthand the value of depth. The Bruins' ability to go deep into the rotation proved a difference-maker the last time out, and will be a significant challenges for their next opponent, Saint Francis (Pa.), which visits UCLA on Friday.
UCLA (2-0) escaped a back-and-forth contest against Long Beach State on Nov. 9, winning 91-80, with eight different players logging at least 17 minutes and scoring between four and 17 points. Reserves Chris Smith, David Singleton and Jules Bernard came off the bench to combine for 28 points.
"We always have guys, no matter what group is in, that are ready to pick up the intensity, the energy, whatever it is that we need on the court," Smith said in the postgame press conference.
Through its first two games, seven Bruins are averaging 17.5 minutes of playing time or more, eight are averaging five points or more, and four are getting between 6.5 and 13.5 rebounds per.
Turnovers have also been evenly distributed throughout the UCLA roster through its first two games, with six players contributing at least three to the 30 total the Bruins have committed thus far.
"(Long Beach State) came at us hard and we didn't handle it very well," UCLA coach Steve Alford said in the postgame press conference. "I think through film and some practice, we'll be better next time."
Saint Francis (1-1) visits Pauley Pavilion for the first-ever matchup between these programs, kicking off a three-game stretch of road games against nationally ranked opponents. The Red Flash traverse the country to face No. 7 North Carolina on Monday, then take on No. 16 Virginia Tech on Nov. 24.
"Guys like Keith (Braxton) and Jamaal (King) want to compete against the best players," said Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel in his press conference following an 80-62 win over Morgan State on Nov. 9. "It's a great measuring stick for our program to see where we are; to see individually, as players, and as a group, where this program is coming and where we can take it."
UCLA will be the second currently ranked opponent Saint Francis has faced on the young 2018-19 campaign. The Red Flash opened on Nov. 6 with an 82-67 loss at Buffalo, which vaulted to No. 25 in the most recent poll following an overtime win Nov. 9 at West Virginia.
Saint Francis' veteran backcourt of the junior Braxton and senior King paces the Red Flash with 38 and 35 points, respectively, through the first two games. Braxton also has 22 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
That contribution on the offensive glass should factor into Friday's outcome. Saint Francis comes in ranked 25th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage per KenPom.com metrics, while UCLA ranks 22nd in percentage of offensive rebounds allowed.
Overall the Bruins have outrebounded their opponents by 12 rebounds per game, and that proficiency on the boards is owed in no small part to 7-foot freshman center Moses Brown, who has 27 rebounds in his first two collegiate games.
"Initiating going for the rebounds and just knowing where the ball is going to go before -- not letting the ball come and (then) go get it," Brown described as his approach on the glass.