UCLA clinches fourth losing conference record in 14 years

Less than two weeks ago, Steve Alford publicly held on to hope. He talked about UCLA’s ability to make a late run, to bolster a resume that had become thinner and thinner since the turn of the new year.

Now, finally, the Bruins seem to have run out of time. A 79-70 loss at Stanford on Saturday clinched them a losing conference record — just the fourth time this has happened in the post-Wooden era. All four occurrences have come in the last 14 years.

UCLA’s path to an NCAA Tournament berth will almost certainly require them to win the Pac-12 Tournament. Judging from the type of basketball these Bruins (15-14, 6-10) have played as of late, however, and that seems like a Sisyphean task.

At Maples Pavilion, UCLA showed little sign that it can fix the problems that have haunted the team all season. It allowed the Cardinal to shoot 61.2 percent from the field, their highest mark of the season. Only one other Pac-12 team — Oregon — had allowed Stanford to clear even 48 percent.

Much of the damage was done inside. Sophomore forward Michael Humphrey scored 24 points, just two points shy of the career high he set against Washington State earlier this month. The 6-foot-9 big man helped give Stanford a 32-18 scoring edge in the paint, corralling four of his team’s nine offensive boards.

UCLA, on the other hand, stayed within striking distance thanks in large part to their efficiency from beyond the arc. With 6:22 left on the game clock, point guard Bryce Alford hit a 3-pointer that cut the Bruins’ deficit to 64-62. At that point, they were 10 of 19 from long range, accounting for nearly half of their made field goals. They proceeded to miss their last four attempts.

Alford shook off his road shooting slump, finishing with 20 points, while fellow guard Isaac Hamilton and center Thomas Welsh chipped in 19 and 11, respectively. No one else cracked double digits.

Senior Tony Parker, whom Steve Alford recently moved into the starting lineup in an attempt to spark his performance, didn’t score his first bucket until more than halfway through the second half. He only grabbed three rebounds in 19 minutes, and shot 4 of 10 from the free throw line.

After being billed as a key piece for the Bruins heading into his final collegiate season, the 6-foot-9 former McDonald’s All-American has yet to truly blossom. After recording six double-doubles in his first nine games of the season, he is averaging just under 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game — essentially duplicating his numbers from a year ago.

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  • Steve W

    Fire Alford. Enough is enough

  • UCLA = Lost Cause U

    Any chance on that contract extension??? Ahahhhhaaa!!!!!

    • JustOwns

      Whoa, a Bozo U roller.

    • Xtracrazy32

      Because of that, I think it is going to be too hard to fire Alford. Get ready for one more season of Steve Alford!

  • airtech1

    Does Dan G. have some kind of dirt on the UCLA administration? This is the guy that needs to be shown the door–fast. He makes J. Buss look like Jerry West. Get rid of the AD, Alford and clean house before you set the bball program back another decade.

  • gotroy22

    Beating KY and Gonzaga was Fools Gold- they suck too.

    • 88 Straight

      At least SC is peaking for the post season!

      • The Cadre Must Go!

        USC was picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 this year… one team is overachieving, while the other is clearly underachieving……

        • 88 Straight

          Oh, we know UCLA has been underachieving. UCLA basketball is a joke under Alford.

          And we know SC won both games. SC fans have been crowing quite loudly about a team that is tied for 6th and falling. I am not sure SC is actually overachieving. SC has good talent but has lost 5 of 6. Can they right the ship in time?

          • The Cadre Must Go!

            After the last couple of painful seasons, combined with low expectations for this season and sweeping our crosstown rivals, I think a little bit of crowing shouldn’t offend anyone. There are positioned right where they belong, IMO..MIddle of the pack..there certainly is some good talent, but they lack consistency, maintaining their intensity and depth. With another decent recruiting class ,and if the freshman stick around for another year, they stand a good shot at being a top 15 team, which would have been laughable to even think about 2 years ago. To answer your question, I have some serious concerns and doubts about them righting the ship in time. This is where leadership will be crucial.

  • Xtracrazy32

    This team has a lot more talent than there record indicates! I wonder if they have quit on Alford, just like what happened at the end of the howland era.

    • guest

      The players didn’t quit on Howland. His last year, they were the PAC12 champions. If Jordan Adams didn’t break his foot, the Bruins would’ve had a better tourney result. The problem was the recruiting well had dried up.