UCLA basketball schedules December game against Kentucky

Even before UCLA’s season began, Steve Alford has insisted that he wants to schedule tough, marquee opponents going forward — something he had little control over his first season.

“I’ve never been somebody that’s hid from opponents,” Alford said more than three months ago.

After squeezing in a game against Duke last winter, he continues backing that up. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Bruins will face Kentucky in December at the United Center in Chicago. Continue reading

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How much do big winning streaks help? Steve Alford draws on his past to explain

Back in 1995, Steve Alford was a fledgling head coach at Manchester College. Just 30 years old, he guided the tiny Indiana school to 31 straight wins, a perfect record blemished only when the Spartans lost to Wisconsin–Platteville in the Division III national title game.

As he prepares to take UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008 — and a first for him since 1999 — standing in the way tonight is a Stephen F. Austin squad that has won 29 straight. He remarked on the similarities between the Lumberjacks and the first program he ever coached. Continue reading

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Basketball roundup: The Wooden family, coaching parallels, and 1994

The NCAA tournament’s round of 64 officially starts today, so hopefully you all filled out your brackets for a chance at Warren Buffett’s $1 billion. UCLA doesn’t tip off until Friday at around 7 p.m., but in the meantime, here’s a roundup of some of the coverage so far in this week’s Daily News:

– The Woodens are working to make sure their family legacy lives on.
– Danny Manning and Steve Alford’s careers have a few curious parallels.
– Tyus Edney reflects on UCLA’s 1994 loss to Tulsa, a game he ranks as the most disappointing of his college career.

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Five questions: What does UCLA need to do in its Pac-12 tourney opener?

UCLA will open its Las Vegas schedule against a red-hot Oregon team that has won eight straight games. If nothing else, the matchup between the Pac-12′s two top offenses could result in the most entertaining game yet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Here are five key questions heading into Thursday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal.

1. How will Jordan Adams play? UCLA’s top scorer has run hot and cold this season, most recently following up a career-high 31 points against Washington with seven against Washington State.

The sophomore’s point totals have ebbed and flowed along with the Bruins’ wins and losses. Continue reading

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Buried by 3-point barrage, UCLA misses another road sweep in loss to WSU

A few weeks ago, Steve Alford offered his thoughts on UCLA’s lackluster 3-point defense. Sure, the Bruins allow plenty of attempts, but he’ll live with those as long as: 1) those shots aren’t easy ones, and 2) the interior is locked down.

“If I had my way, I’d just as soon teams shoot 30, 35 threes against us,” the coach said then.

On Saturday night, Washington State did its best to oblige. The Cougars heaved 29 shots from downtown, the most that any Pac-12 opponent has shot against the Bruins this season. That they only made 10 made little difference; WSU steamrolled UCLA in a 73-55 victory, giving fans at Beasley Coliseum something to cheer for near the end of a brutal season. Continue reading

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Notes: Adams’ career-high 31 points pushes UCLA past Washington

– Jordan Adams is hitting on all cylinders heading down the late stretch of the season. The sophomore guard lit up the Huskies for a career-high 31 points in UCLA’s 91-82 win — a total that could have easily been higher if not for a second-half bout with cramps.

Adams scored 10 of UCLA’s first 14 points to set the pace early, and established the offense by earning trips to the line. He also exited a good portion of the second half and didn’t score in the final eight minutes, but his last six points came when the Bruins only led by one point.

UCLA’s most natural scorer hitting his stride in March obviously bodes well for a team that’s angling for a top-five tournament seed. His free throw rate has dropped to 20th in the conference compared to 13th last season, but he his nine free throw attempts were his highest since Dec. 7. Continue reading

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What to watch: Oregon State at UCLA

Oregon State (15-12, 7-8) at UCLA (21-7, 10-5)
When:
Sunday, 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Rob Stone, Jarron Collins)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Will Zach LaVine handle the ball more? Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are returning after their one-game suspensions on Thursday, so LaVine won’t get anywhere close to the 17 shots he took in the double-overtime loss to Oregon.

But it’s about more than just his point total. His father, Paul, has been long insistent that the 6-foot-4 freshman is a point guard. LaVine’s brief stint there against the Ducks didn’t disprove that argument. Late in regulation, Bryce Alford and LaVine swapped roles in the backcourt, with the latter taking the reins of the offense.

Alford has been serviceable as a backup point, but he could be even more effective as a two guard — where he can move off the ball and get better looks. The two 3-pointers he hit during the last 33 seconds of the second half were both assisted by LaVine. More importantly, though, is that giving the ball makes LaVine much more comfortable and better utilize his athleticism. Continue reading

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VIDEOS: Bruins talk to media after double-overtime loss to Oregon

Head coach Steve Alford, after the Bruins forced double overtime without their two best players: “I don’t know if I’ve been more proud of a basketball team during a regular season game.”

David Wear walks through his buzzer-beating 3-pointer, one that came off an inbounds pass from twin brother Travis with 1.2 seconds left in regulation. Continue reading

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