Show Me My Opponent returns with a special basketball edition! This week we are looking ahead to UCLA, that school traveling from way out west to play the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon. Let’s get to know ’em…
UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is the largest university in California. Located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles and famous for the creation of the internet, UCLA is a school that traditionally succeeds in academics, athletics and beautiful people. Ask the folks over at USC, the rival school, and they’ll try to make some joke about Asians. But UCLA truly is about as good as it gets, which is why it is considered one of the best universities in America. (And why I wish I had been smart enough, rich enough, athletic enough, or good-looking enough to attend.)
More fun UCLA facts:
— UCLA is the most applied-to university in the country with over 112,000 applications received in Fall 2015.
— Many movies and TV shows use UCLA’s campus to replicate other schools, like Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. For example, scenes from Jobs, Old School, Legally Blonde, Californication, House M.D., and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were filmed in Westwood.
— UCLA leads the nation with 113 NCAA team championships.
— There is an In-N-Out Burger across the street from south campus. #Jealous
— UCLA is credited with the first Undie Run, started in 2011. Undie Runs are now done at campuses all over America, but apparently the UCLA student body was the first to strip down and take off running. I won’t lie to you, friends — it looks like a good time.
NOTABLE UCLA PEOPLE
Way too many of them to name, but my two favorites are Reggie Miller and Emily Ratajkowski.
INSTAGRAM SCOUTING REPORT
SO WHO’S THE HEAD COACH?
Steve Alford is currently in his fourth season as head man of the Bruins. He was hired in 2013 to replace Ben Howland, who was fired after 10 years of service that included three consecutive Final Fours, and now coaches at Mississippi State.
A former Indiana standout and national champion, Alford was at one time the Hoosiers’ all-time leading scorer and a three-time All-Big Ten selection. He went 1-2 against the Cats as a player with games of 26, 24 and 17 points.
You may also remember Alford for his comments following UCLA’s 83-44 loss to Kentucky in Chicago in 2014-15. He predicted an undefeated season for the Cats and said, “I don’t know in my 20 years coaching at the Division I level that I’ve coached against a better team than this.”
His coaching career also includes stops at Manchester University, Southwest Missouri State University, the University of Iowa and the University of New Mexico.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
|#2 | LONZO BALL | Guard | Freshman | 6-6 | 190
When Adam Silver announces the first pick in next summer’s NBA draft, Lonzo Ball could very well be the name he calls. The Bruins’ freshman guard has been outstanding to start the season, averaging 16 points, 5.3 rebounds and an NCAA-leading 9.1 assists per game, while shooting 57.4 from the field and 48.6 from three-point range.
His battle with De’Aaron Fox, another star freshman guard, is one of the most-anticipated marquee head-to-head matchups in all of college basketball this season. Two young stars squaring off in the battle of the two most storied programs.
|#40 | THOMAS WELSH | Center | Junior | 7-0 | 245
Thomas Welsh was the star of last year’s UK-UCLA game in Pauley Pavilion, where he finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his second career double-double. The awkward, lanky center was lethal with the midrange jumper in that one as he connected on eight of his 11 attempts from the field, including his last six in the game.
There is no way he can be that efficient again, right?
|#20 | BRYCE ALFORD | Guard | Senior | 6-3 | 185
Bryce Alford, a starting senior guard and the son of the head coach, has scored in double figures in all seven games this season.
Alford entered the season as the only returning player in a Power 5 conference to have averaged at least 16.0 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game last year. He is also only the fifth player in school history to have scored at least 1,400 career points and registered 400 or more assists.
Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy! Dad-dy’s Boy!
LAST TIME WE MET
UCLA avenged its embarrassing 83-44 drubbing in 2014-15 by returning the favor in Los Angeles last year. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 87-77, for the school’s first victory over a No. 1 team since 2003.
After that game, John Calipari told reporters, “Playing at Kentucky, that’s what you get. We get the other team’s best. We walk into another team’s arena, it’s the best crowd in the world. We did not meet that challenge. Neither did I as a coach. I thought we were more prepared than we were, and we weren’t.”
THAT TIME STEVE URKEL TALKED TRASH
— Jaleel White (@jaleelwhite) December 4, 2015
In related news, Jaleel White still exists.
UCLA is very good this year and Lonzo Ball is one of the best players in the game, but Kentucky is a complete team with a better backcourt and the Cats will be playing on their home floor in Rupp Arena, where John Calipari has only lost four games.
I don’t think this game will be close, honestly. ESPN’s Jay Bilas doesn’t think UCLA will be able to hang, either.
Cats win by double digits.