NO. 1: COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT:
UCLA vs. TULSA:
At Viejas Arena on San Diego State campus, Friday at approx. 7 p.m., truTV:
In the book, “The Bruin 100: The Greatest Games in the History of UCLA Basketball,” the contest that UCLA played against Tubby Smith’s Tulsa team in the opening round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament is ranked No. 17 of all time. Greater than the 1970 NCAA championship win over Jacksonville (which is No. 18), the 1967 NCAA championship win over Dayton (in at No. 19) and the 1972 NCAA championship win over Florida State (which is No. 20). Just not “great” in the way you’d think it would be. As author Scott Howard-Cooper writes, that was “the day the Bruins learned the exact location of Tulsa.” The Golden Hurricane’s 112-102 trouncing of the Bruins will have taken place most 20 years ago to the date when the two schools meet in the opener of the 2014 tournament in San Diego, and it provides a mysterious back story. Junior Ed O’Bannon said before the contest: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know Tulsa was in Oklahoma.” UCLA, which had been ranked No. 1 during the regular season when it started 14-0, had come into the tournament as a fifth seed and had to play this Midwest Regional contest against Tulsa in Oklahoma City, just 65 miles from their backyard. The Bruins trailed 46-17 at one point. It was 63-38 at halftime. It was the most points surrendered by a UCLA team in tournament play.
“It wasn’t a bad dream,” coach Jim Harrick said. “It was a nightmare.” As for O’Bannon, he had 30 points and 18 rebounds as UCLA cut the deficit to 12 with 12 minutes left, but the rally faded. It should be noted, UCLA did win the national title the very next year, as O’Bannon took charge. At least this current Bruins team, and coach Steve Alford in particular, should know that Danny Manning-coached Tulsa (21-12), winners of Conference USA, started this season 0-4 with double-digit losses to Wichita State and Creighton (their only games against a ranked opponent) then finished on an 11-0 run.
If the Bruins win, their second-round game Sunday would be against either Virginia Commonwealth or Stephen F. Austin. We could give an educated guess as to what city each of those schools are located, but our Mapquest app just shut down, thinking we were joking.
BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading “Play It Forward: March 17-23 on your sports calendar — That UCLA-Tulsa NCAA Tournament opener 20 years ago sets the stage for this Steve Alford-Danny Manning matchup” »