Next: UCLA

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said following the NCAA Selection Committee's announcement of this year's national championship tournament teams that he thinks it's important that the Crimson Tide is regarded as an NCAA tourney team each year. With 19 appearances, including five in a row, Bama has probably achieved that status. There is no question that Bama's Saturday opponent in the second round of the NCAA Tournament is there.

Alabama will meet UCLA at approximately 5 p.m. PST (7 p.m. CST) Saturday in the Cox Arena in San Diego. CBS will televise the game. The ten seed Crimson Tide is coming off an exciting 90-85 win over seventh seed Marquette, while the second seed UCLA Bruins opened tournament play with a 78-44 rout of 15 seed Belmont.

UCLA, 28-6 this season, is one of the top names in college basketball history, particularly in its Golden Age under John Wooden with a string of national championships.

Gottfried was an assistant coach at UCLA from 1988-89 through 1994-95 with the Bruins winning the national championship his final season there.

Although UCLA under Coch Ben Howland has a 7-1 center in 230-pound senior Ryan Hollins, the Bruins are most dangerous from the guard spots. Hollins averages only 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. But sophomore guards Aaron Affalo (6-5, 16.4 points per game) and Jordan Farmer (13.4 points, 5.0 assists per game) are the big weapons.

The starting UCLA forwards are 6-6 senior Cedric Bozeman (8.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and 6-7 freshman Luc Richard Mbhaha a Moule (9.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg).

Alabama's announced starting lineup continues to include two are saw only limited playing time in the first round game. Starting guard Brandon Hollinger and starting forward Evan Brock had only two points in 13 minutes of play each against Marquette.

The big gun for Bama came off the bench in the first round win. Jean Felix had a career-high 31 points and Alabama school record-tying eight three-point shots. Alabama got strong play from 6-10 center Jermareo Davidson, who hit 9-19 field goals for 21 points and added 12 rebounds. Ron Steele was the clutch player down the stretch and finished with 23 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds.

Alabama's magnificent seven of the scholarshipped players seeing action also includes starting forward Richard Hendrix and back-up wing player Alonzo Gee. Both are freshmen.

The winner of Saturday's game advances to the Sweet 16 in Oakland next week. Alabama had advanced to the Sweet 16 eight times, the last time in 2004 when Bama made it to the Elite 8 when playing on the West Coast.

Alabama is 1-1 all-time vs. UCLA, both games in Southern California. Bama upset the Bruins 70-67 in Los Angeles in 1983 and lost to UCLA, 79-57, in the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim in 2002.

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