For UCLA, there is considerable work to be done with six regular-season games remaining.
The Bruins, 11-13 overall and 6-6 in the Pac-10, had the luxury of knowing that an NCAA tournament invitation was set aside for them each of the last five seasons. This season, UCLA will have to be able to string together at least three consecutive victories in three days to win the Pac-10 tournament.
The Bruins have only one three-game winning streak this season, and that spanned 10 days.
With USC ineligible because of self-imposed sanctions, only nine teams will play in the Pac-10 tournament. UCLA is in sixth place, but if it drops to eighth or ninth, that would force it to play an extra game in the tournament.
But the Bruins have issues that might make winning difficult.
"The biggest thing for us is not turning the ball over," Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday. His team had 20 turnovers in a 68-64 loss to USC on Sunday.