WHEN: Thursday, March 19 at 2:10 p.m. CT
WHERE: KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, KY)
TV/RADIO: TruTV/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: UCLA leads the series 2-0.
LAST MEETING: The last meeting saw eighth-ranked UCLA win 99-71 on Dec. 28, 1976 in Pauley Pavillion.
BRACKET BREAKDOWN: SMU vs. UCLA
PONY TRENDSSMU is coming off one of their toughest three game stretches of the season in the AAC tournament, beating a pesky East Carolina team, grinding out a win over Temple, and outlasting Connecticut in a tough environment. The team had some time to refocus in Dallas after getting their matchup in the NCAA Tournament. SMU needed one last bit of adversity before entering the NCAA Tournament. Nic Moore hasn’t shot the ball well, but the team has found ways to win as it has all year. Against a UCLA team that gets almost all of its points from its starters, SMU will have to be at its best from the start.
OPPONENT STRENGTHSUCLA is just 2-8 vs. the tournament field and many felt like the Bruins shouldn’t have been in the tournament. That’s fair, but the Bruins are here and have the talent to compete with SMU. If the Bruins can play up to the level SMU has all season, this will be a great game. The Bruins are comfortable with team’s attempting threes against them. Nic Moore, Sterling Brown and maybe an occasional Ryan Manuel three-point shot could be expected. The Bruins allowed Pac 12 teams to shoot 39 percent from three-point land. Will SMU be able to exploit the three-point shot? Nic Moore will likely give it a shot or get it inside to try and get the UCLA bigs into foul trouble like they have a tendency to do.
Three Players to Watch
Bryce Alford: UCLA point guard Bryce Alford, son of Head Coach Steve Alford, can go off when he gets into a groove. The 6-3 sophomore is second on UCLA, averaging 15.3 points per game and leads the team with five assists per game.
Tony Parker: The big man is 6-9 and a lot to handle down low and will be the key player for SMU to neutralize to force UCLA to make shots around the perimeter. Parker averages 11.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field.
Norman Powell: With Nic Moore handling Alford, Ryan Manuel and Sterling Brown will likely share the duty of guarding the 6-4 senior. Powell averages over 16 points per game and SMU will have to make sure he doesn’t get open looks.