UCLA adjusts to shooting in cavernous NRG Stadium

UCLA arrived in Houston last night, and shot around for about an hour or so this morning at NRG Stadium. Formerly known as Reliant Stadium, the football venue can seat up to 80,000 people — absolutely dwarfing any other place the Bruins have played this season.

Will that set-up affect how players shoot?

“You get to go out there and you see how big the stadium is,” said point guard Bryce Alford. “The scoreboard is huge. The court is elevated. All that stuff. It’s what you dream of when you’re a kid, playing in a venue like this. …

“You got to get used to the shooting. It’s definitely different, but they’ve done a great job of making the background darker. There’s black (canvas) behind both hoops. So, I don’t think it will be too much different than shooting in a normal gym.”

In case you missed anything, here’s a roundup of our UCLA-Gonzaga coverage so far this week: Continue reading

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VIDEO: Bryce Alford talks about win over SMU, goaltending call

Point guard Bryce Alford was the hero in UCLA’s 60-59 win over SMU to start the NCAA Tournament, scoring 27 points and hitting 9 of 11 from beyond the arc.

The sophomore made four 3-pointers in the last 3:40, but his last one got some help in the form of Yanick Moreira’s goltending.

“It’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me in the game of basketball,” Alford said.

Alford now holds UCLA’s single-season record for made 3-pointers with 88, one head of the 87 that Arron Afflalo had in 2007.

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Was the goaltending call correct in UCLA’s win vs. SMU?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UCLA beat SMU, 60-59, today in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64. The Bruins finished the game on an 8-0 run — with those last three points coming when Yanick Moreira got called for goaltending on Bryce Alford’s long 3-point attempt.

Did officials make the right decision?

From the NCAA men’s basketball rules book, this is Rule 9, Section 17, Article 3:

Goaltending occurs when a defensive player touches the ball during a field-goal try and each of the following conditions is met:

1. The ball is on its downward flight; and
2. The ball is above the level of the ring and has the possibility, while in flight, of entering the basket and is not touching the cylinder.

From what I saw live and from looking again at the footage, Alford’s shot looked like it was about to hit the rim. Moreira then jumped up and tipped it before it did, however, which resulted in the call. The shot didn’t look like it had the “possibility … of entering the basket,” but the officials also could have applied a basketball interference rule. The latter only requires that Moreira touched “the ball while any part of it is within the cylinder that has the ring as its lower base.”

Here was what official Sean Hull said after the game: “The call is goaltending and isn’t reviewable. We gave the rule number and the article. Why we went to the monitor was to determine if the basket was a three or a tow. Under two minutes by rule, we have a directive to do that. At the table it was confirmed that it was a three, and we put the ball back in play.”

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UCLA survives against SMU thanks to Bryce Alford, goaltending call

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For about nine minutes, UCLA’s season looked dead. Bryce Alford somehow powered it back to life.

In a wild 60-59 win against sixth-seeded SMU on Thursday afternoon, the Bruins took a 10-point lead in the second half, gave up 19 unanswered points — and then survived on a flurry of 3-pointers by their sophomore point guard.

Alford scored a game-high 27 points, hitting an absurd 9 of 11 on 3-point attempts. He had four treys in the final four minutes — and didn’t even technically sink the one that counted the most.

With 13 seconds left, Alford launched a shot from the left arc, one that looked on track to hit the front of the rim. But SMU big man Yanick Moreira jumped up and tipped the shot too early. He was called for goaltending, and the points counted.

The Mustangs had a chance to come back, but point guard Nic Moore missed back-to-back attempts from beyond the arc. The clock expired, and the Bruins mobbed Alford at midcourt. Continue reading

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