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Closing Another Loop: Going Undefeated at Pauley?

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I mentioned last Friday that beating Arizona at McKale has always been a special deal for the modern era UCLA basketball program (assuming we can consider Harrick’s first year as start of modern era of UCLA hoops). I mentioned how every time UCLA beat Arizona at McKale since 1988-89, they went on to win the Pac-10 regular season championship and advance at least to the Elite Eight of March Madness. We will see how it all turns out this year. Obviously, there is no guarantee, especially considering that Arizona's program has become a shell of its previous glory programs, which was fattening up at the expense of incompetent coaches like Steve Lavin, who were too busy castigating UCLA fans as unreasonable and spoiled, while ruining the brand name of one of the greatest programs of college hoops. Anyways … moving on.

This week Bruins will have a chance to something even more special. The Bruins will have a chance to go undefeated at Pauley for the first time since 1974-75 season – Coach Wooden’s last season – when the Bruins went 16-0. Yes, I realize in the official site the record shows the Bruins went "15-0" in 1994-95. Well, that may be technically accurate, but the reality is that the Bruins did lose one home game that season, which came against Todd Bozeman’s Cal Bears (our next opponent). Bozeman and the Cal Bears, as some of you may recall were punished by the NCAA, as reportedly Bozeman made $$ arrangements (15,000/year) for the parents of former Cal Player Jelani Garnder:

Bozeman's record is listed as 35-63 due to forfeits of games in which Gardner played at Cal. Cal's actual record in 1994-95 was 13-14, but it became 0-27 with forfeits. The 1995-96 record of 17-11 turned into 2-25. Bozeman led Cal to the NCAAs in '94 and '96, losing in the first round each of those seasons. The reason this doesn't add up (17-11 becoming 2-25) is because the 28th game is the NCAA Tournament first-round loss that was vacated (meaning it never really occurred under the NCAA's watch). It simply disappeared.
As a result, UCLA’s only home loss during 1994-95 simply disappeared from the records. But those of us who were on campus that year remember clearly how the Bears humiliated Ed O’Bannon and rest of the eventual national champions in front of a packed house at Pauley. Ed O swore after the game that he would never again let himself and his team-mates look past another opponent and play without effort and emotion, and you know what happened after.

Anyways, so we have a chance to come full circle this week. The Bruins can stay on track to remain undefeated at Pauley, by not looking past a pesky Bears team, which is coming into Westwood on a 2 game winning streak. And, if they finish this last home stretch with a sweep of the Bay Area schools, for the first time since Coach Wooden’s last year, the Bruins will go undefeated in the House that Coach built.

Talk about the closing a loop between Wooden and Howland.

Let’s hope the boys stay focused on Cal. We don’t need AA to feel like Ed’O after he played his last game against the Bears at Pauley.

You can see how it’s so much fun to follow Coach Howland’s program. As Coach Howland continues to reestablish arguably the greatest program of all time, it is starting to find itself in position to close the loops with both past and recent Bruin glory. Good times.

GO BRUINS.