Young Bruins battle Crimson Tide in tourney’s second round
(Sports Network) – The 10th-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide try for their second
upset in a row tonight, when they take on the second-seeded UCLA Bruins in
the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s Oakland Regional from Cox Arena.
The winner of tonight’s bout will move on to face either Indiana or Gonzaga
in the Sweet 16 on March 23rd.
The Tide began NCAA Tournament play on Thursday by knocking off seventh-seeded
Marquette, 90-85. The win improved Alabama to 20-18 all-time in the NCAA
Tournament, where it is making its fifth straight appearance and its 19th
overall. The Tide’s deepest run in this event came in 2004, when the team
made it all the way to the Elite Eight.
As for UCLA, it had no trouble in the first round of the tourney, as it posted
a convincing 78-44 victory over 15th-seeded Belmont. It was the school’s
biggest win since beating Maryland 105-70 in the second round of the 2000
tournament. The win advanced the Bruins to the second round for the first
time since 2002 and also marked their eighth consecutive victory dating
back to the regular season. The victory was UCLA’s 86th all-time in its 40th
tournament appearance, trailing only Kentucky (95) and North Carolina (88)
for the most wins in NCAA Tournament history. The Bruins have also won a
record 11 championships in this event.
With regards to the all-time series between UCLA and Alabama, it is knotted at
Jean Felix picked a good time to play the game of his life, as he poured in a
career-high 31 points on 8-of-11 shooting from long range to lead Alabama to a
five-point win over Marquette on Thursday. Felix wasn’t the only player with a
standout performance, as Ronald Steele and Jermareo Davidson also got into the
act. Steele posted 23 points, eight assists and five boards in the victory,
while Davidson notched a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. The
Tide shot a solid 50.9 percent from the floor in the game, including a 12-
of-23 effort from three-point range. The team also did a good job at the foul
line, converting 22-of-31 free-throw attempts.
On the season, Alabama is shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 70.6
percent from the charity stripe which has led it to a scoring average of
70.6 ppg. Davidson currently leads the team in both scoring (14.3 ppg) and
rebounding (9.1 rpg), and also has 57 blocks to his credit. Steele has been
responsible for running the offense and is dishing out a team-best 4.3
apg, while also averaging 14.1 ppg. He is making good on 41.6 percent of
his three-point attempts and is also tops on the club with 44 steals.
UCLA, as expected had little trouble in its first round game, as it held
Belmont to a dismal 28.8 percent shooting effort from the floor en route to
the lopsided victory on Thursday. The Bruins made 53.6 percent of their field
goal attempts in the game, and also dominated the boards, 45-27. Luc Richard
Mbah a Moute led the way with a career-high 17 points to go along with eight
rebounds and six assists. Ryan Hollins and Darren Collison each chipped in
with 10 points, while Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo had eight and seven
Despite the low output, Afflalo still leads the Bruins in scoring this season
with 16.4 ppg. He is also grabbing 4.4 rpg and shooting 37.2 percent from
long distance. Farmar has formed a solid backcourt tandem with Afflalo and
is contributing 13.5 and a team-high 5.3 apg. Mbah a Moute, the Pac-10
Freshman of the Year, has provided the muscle in the low post and is turning
in 9.0 ppg and a club-best 8.1 rpg. As a team, the Bruins have thrived at
the defensive end of the floor this season, holding their foes to a mere 58.7
ppg. The team is also outrebounding its opponents by 5.4 rpg, in addition to
netting 68.9 ppg itself.