Can UCLA get a marquee win against No. 9 Gonzaga?

UCLA hosts No. 9 Gonzaga tonight at 7:05 p.m., the first part of a tough five-game stretch that will tell everyone a lot more about what type of team Steve Alford has on his hands.

Kenpom.com currently projects the Bruins losing all five: to the Bulldogs (44% win probability), No. 1 Kentucky (12%), Alabama (44%), Colorado (44%) and Utah (27%). The latter four games are all away from Pauley Pavilion.

» Can UCLA handle Gonzaga’s big men, Przemek Karnowski (7-1, 288) and Domantas Sabonis (6-10, 231)?
» Mark Whicker looks back at UCLA’s memorable Sweet Sixteen win over Gonzaga in 2006, the last time the two teams met.
» Freshman Kevon Looney has been a consistent force inside for UCLA, and is one double-double short of the national lead.

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VIDEO: Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s guards, rebounding

Steve Alford talked to the media before UCLA’s Tuesday practice, touching on Isaac Hamilton’s play, keeping guards out of foul trouble, and Kevon Looney’s rebounding prowess.

The Bruins host UC Riverside at 8 p.m. tomorrow, their last game before facing top-10 teams in Gonzaga and Kentucky.

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UCLA holds off Long Beach State in 77-63 win at Pauley Pavilion

UCLA moved to 4-0 on a 77-63 win over Long Beach State, but allowed the 49ers to get within five points with 3:00 left on the clock. Norman Powell and Bryce Alford combined for 41 points, while Kevon Looney logged his third straight double-double. Here’s the game story from Chris Trevino, who filled in at Pauley Pavilion tonight.

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UCLA basketball teams announce signing classes

UCLA has officially signed five-star forward Kevon Looney, one of the gems of the 2014 class.

“Kevon is one of the best players in the country in this class,” coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “He is extremely skilled and versatile. Most importantly, he’s a winner.”

The Bruins also inked Hungarian native Gyorgy Goloman, a little-known forward also sought by Davidson, Richmond and New Mexico. Alford’s statement called him “one of the best passing big men we have seen in years.”

Looney sent his national letter of intent to UCLA this morning, while Goloman did the same yesterday.

UCLA women’s basketball also signed its first-ever No. 1 recruiting class Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 11/12/13 Answers

Q: For basketball, the early signing period starts this Wednesday. Any update since five-star forward Kevon Looney verballed?

A: Hungarian big man Gyorgy Goloman officially signed his letter of intent today, and Looney is expected to send his in Thursday morning. Four-star 7-footer Thomas Welsh will decide between Cal, Stanford and UCLA any day now. Justise Winslow might also make a decision by Nov. 20.

Q: How big of a blow and an impact did losing left tackle Torian White and running back Jordon James have on the team and our offense? Continue reading

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Isaac Hamilton’s appeal denied, will sit out season

The limbo ended, but not in the way UCLA had hoped.

Five-star guard Isaac Hamilton’s appeal to play immediately has been denied, the school announced Thursday. The former St. John Bosco standout will sit out the 2013-14 season and play the following year as a sophomore.

Originally signed with UTEP, Hamilton broke his national letter of intent and instead enrolled at UCLA. He loses a year of eligibility for reneging on his NLI, but is allowed to continue practicing with the team. Continue reading

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Five-star forward Kevon Looney commits to UCLA

UCLA pulled off its first major coup of the Steve Alford era on Halloween, landing five-star power forward Kevon Looney.

Not only is the Milwaukee native rated the No. 13 player in the country by Rivals.com, he also fulfills a major need for the Bruins. Last season, UCLA had the worst rebounding margin in the Pac-12.

The 6-foot-9 power forward should start immediately when he arrives for the 2014-15 season. Continue reading

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Basketball notes: Bruins behind in defense, rebounding

– Steve Alford said UCLA has been doing a lot of work using 15- and 20-second shot clocks, and is ahead of where they should be on offense — albeit turning the ball over too often. However, the team is behind defensively, especially on the backboard.

“Our two best rebounders have probably been Kyle (Anderson) and Tony (Parker),” Alford said, adding that the team has been much better on the offensive glass.

The Bruins were last in the Pac-12 last year with a -1.6 rebounding margin.

– Five-star power forward Kevon Looney was on campus for the last of his five official visits. He will announce his decision on Oct. 31, with Duke being the favorite. Continue reading

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