Alabama Basketball Takes On A Bruin

They take their basketball pretty seriously at UCLA. Their fans were not amused at the last outing by the Bruins. Oh, UCLA didn't have any problem dispatching a below-normal Weber State team by 83-60. The problem was the Pac-12 Network. When technical difficulties interrupted the telecast, the network filled in with a tape of an old football game. But not a UCLA football game. USC vs. Stanford.

Otherwise, things are going pretty well in Pauley Pavilion. Alabama will attempt to hand UCLA its third loss of the season and first home loss when the Crimson Tide visits Saturday. Tipoff will be at 9 p.m. PST (7 p.m. central time) and the telecast will be on the usually reliable ESPN2.

Although this is not one of those powerhouse UCLA teams from yesteryear, the Bruins are good enough to be "receiving votes" in the Associated Press poll. UCLA is 10-2 with eight of the wins at home and two in Las Vegas. Alabama is 5-6 and coming off back-to-back home losses at the hands of Wichita State and Xavier.

For those who like to play the "compare past scores" game, consider these four:

Alabama lost to Duke in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27 by 10 points, 74-64.

UCLA lost to Duke in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 19 by 17 points, 80-63.

On Nov. 8, UCLA defeated Drexel, 72-67, at Pauley Pavilion.

On Nov. 29, Drexel defeated Alabama, 85-83 in three overtimes, at Madison Square Garden.

In addition to the loss to Duke, UCLA lost to Missouri of the Southeastern Conference

The Bruins own a 2-1 lead over Bama in the all-time series. The last meeting came in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament in San Diego, Calif. The Bruins edged the Tide, 62-59, on their way to an NCAA runner-up finish that season. Alabama's only win over UCLA in the series came in Pauley Pavilion in the first-ever meeting between the two teams on Jan. 28, 1983. UA defeated then-No. 1 UCLA, 70-67. That game was played just two days after the death of legendary Tide football coach and athletics director Paul Bryant.

Alabama shouldn't be surprised to be coming up against another tough opponent. The Tide's non-conference strength of schedule is ranked No. 14 in the nation by The Tide's six losses have come to teams with a combined record of 56-13 (.812). They are Oklahoma, 11-1; Duke, 9-2; Drexel, 8-3; USF, 7-4; Wichita State, 12-0; Xavier 9-3.

Alabama has not won a game this season in contests that have been decided by 10 or fewer points (0-6). The Tide's six losses have been by a combined total of 31 points - an average of 5.2 points per game.

Prior to the Tide's departure for Los Angeles Thursday, Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "We're excited about the opportunity to go out to UCLA and compete. UCLA is off to a good start. This will be a true test for our guys, our second true road test of the season."

The first "true road test" didn't work out too well for Bama as the Tide fell at South Florida by 66-64.

Grant called UCLA "very balanced, very explosive, averaging 86 points per game. They have Jordan Adams, who is doing a great job of scoring, but they have a of different weapons. Kyle Anderson is a combination forward, unique, a 6-9 guy who can play a number of positions.

"They have great size and length.

"Defensively they are getting about 11 steals a game on 15 turnovers and allowing opponents only 40 per cent shooting.

"They do a good job in transition scoring."

Grant said Bama would not be looking back on its painful losses.

"Anytime you win, it breeds confidence," said Grant. "We need to go out and prepare the best we can to win. We can't look back and worry about what happened in the past. We have to work to get better, learn the lessons of the past, and move ahead with a forward-thinking mindset."

Senior guard Trevor Releford leads Alabama in scoring with 17 points per game. Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan is averaging 13.9, junior forward Nick Jacobs 10.5, and junior guard Levi Randolph 10.1.

Alabama leads the SEC and ranks 12th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.4 per cent). The Tide also ranks second in the SEC in free throw shooting (.714). The Tide also ranks among the SEC and national leaders in blocked shots (5.5 bpg; 6th/38th) and steals (7.5 spg; 4th/63rd) per game.

The Tide is shooting 45.9 per cent from the floor and 33.3 per cent from beyond the arc. is outrebounding the competition through its first 11 games by 1.5 rebounds a game (36.3-34.8) and outscoring foes by 7.0 points a game (73.9-66.9).

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