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UCLA Basketball: First Look at Alabama

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The Bruins play the third game in their murder's row stretch. Can they turn things around against Alabama? Let's look at the stats.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

There was no presser today, so we'll turn our attention to the Alabama game this Sunday (3:30PM PT on ESPNU).

First, here's the news:

  • UCLA is still waiting until April for the next batch of recruiting commitments (if any). Top targets remain Jaylen Brown, Stephen Zimmerman, Carlton Bragg and Brandon Ingram. Guess who we are competing against for their services next year? That's right -- the team that just humiliated us on national TV, Kentucky (not to mention Kansas and Arizona amongst others). By their relatively low-key mentions of UCLA, these two articles about Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram published after Saturday's game weren't particularly encouraging.
  • In the PAC-12, California's Jabari Bird is questionable for the start of conference play due to a stress fracture. Cal had its seven game win streak broken by Wisconsin at Cal on Monday. In other PAC-12 action, Washington beat Tulane 66-57 Tuesday night to open the season 11-0. The game was closer than the score indicated as the lead changed hands repeatedly throughout. My take on Washington: their secret weapon is shot-blocker Robert Upshaw. I don't see them as particularly talented, but like several other PAC-12 teams, they make up for it with good defense and solid team play on offense. The exact opposite of the Bruins.

And now on to Alabama. Here are the comparative stats:

Pts FG% FT% 3P% Rebs OR DR Assists TO Stls Blk eFG% FTR OR% TO%
Alabama 73.2 45.2 75.8 31.9 33.7 10.4 23.4 12 12.3 7.7 3.9 51.3 43.8 32 18.4
UCLA 77.8 44 65.6 36.8 41.9 14.1 27.8 15.5 13 7.3 4.6 49.5 42.3 36.3 18
Alabama Def 66.5 43.1 63 33.6 33.5 11.5 22 12.6 14.5 5.4 2.2 49.7 36.6 33.1 21.6
UCLA Def 72 41.1 71.1 32.8 36.1 11.3 24.8 14.9 13.3 6.8 3.7 47.9 31.8 28.9 18.4


After last week you might wonder why I bother highlighting the "Four Factors." Analysts swear by them as the best indicator of the game winner. There is actually a formula, statistically tweaked, to tell you who wins. Here's the issue, particularly last week: they are offensive statistics. You can actually graph the defensive version of the Four Factors, but hoops analysts believe that the offensive factors are most important. Therein lies the misread for the Kentucky game. Although they looked like Showtime Lakers last Saturday, Kentucky is really a defense-first team.

Nevertheless, Alabama come out on top in three of the four factors compared to UCLA. The exception is offensive rebounding rate thanks solely to a certain Mr. Looney. Alabama's RPI is #64 compared to UCLA's #103 (services have different RPI simulations).

Last year, an Alabama team that ultimately went 13-19 took UCLA down to the final minute. They were the first team to press the Bruins full-court  with Kyle Anderson handling the ball. Tony Parker had a break-out came, and helped the Bruins win by eight. Here's the box score from that game courtesy of ESPN.

Of the five Alabama starters from last season, one graduated (center Engstrom), and two were supplanted by transfers and now are on the bench (guards Obasohan and forward Hale) plus they brought in four freshman, three of whom are in the regular rotation.

Here are this season's stats:

GAME STATISTICS
Player GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Levi Randolph 11 34.2 16.5 4.9 3.1 1.6 0.2 1.1 0.509 0.869 0.407
Ricky Tarrant 10 24.7 12.5 2.3 1.9 1.4 0 1.1 0.407 0.784 0.306
Rodney Cooper 10 27.8 11.6 3.6 1.3 0.5 0.2 1.5 0.494 0.821 0.429
Shannon Hale 11 20.8 9.8 3.7 1.6 1 0.4 2 0.434 0.675 0.265
Michael Kessens 10 17.8 6.9 4.8 0.8 0.7 0.3 1.9 0.553 0.789 0.286
Justin Coleman 11 20.5 6 1.1 1.5 0.5 0 1.5 0.324 0.786 0.268
Riley Norris 11 17.6 5 4.2 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.9 0.467 0.6 0.412
Jimmie Taylor 11 23.5 4.8 5.5 0.5 0 2.2 1.6 0.564 0.529 0
Retin Obasohan 10 14.3 2 2.2 0.6 1 0.4 1 0.385 0.667 0
Dakota Slaughter 5 5.2 1.4 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 1 0.25
Devin Mitchell 6 7 0.7 0.3 0.7 0.5 0.2 0 0.083 0.5 0.111
John Gibson 1 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 11 -- 73 34 12 8 4 12 0.452 0.758 0.319



The starters are (F) Kessen (transfer from Longwood -F), Taylor (F), Tarrant (transfer from Tulane - G), Cooper and Randolph (G). So 8-3 Alabama lost one starter but added two transfer starters and three rotation freshmen. They go nine deep this year. They got better, UCLA got worse.

It's true that Alabama, like UCLA, doesn't have a signature win. They beat eight cupcakes and lost to Iowa State, Xavier and Wichita State. Before you say Wichita State was a good loss, although Wichita State was much-heralded, they haven't beaten a good team either this year -- unless Alabama turns out to be that good win (53-52).

Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result
11/10/2014 vs. Montevallo (Exhibition) Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7:00 p.m. CT
11/14/2014 vs. Towson Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 82-54
11/17/2014 vs. Western Carolina Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 80-74
11/20/2014 vs. Southern Miss Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 81-67
11/24/2014 vs. Iowa State Kansas City, Mo. L, 84-74
11/25/2014 vs. Arizona State Kansas City, Mo. W, 76-71
12/2/2014 vs. USF Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 82-71
12/6/2014 at Xavier Cincinnati, Ohio L, 97-84
12/13/2014 vs. Tennessee Tech Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 65-53
12/16/2014 at Wichita State Wichita, Kan. L, 53-52
12/19/2014 vs. Stillman Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 69-49
12/21/2014 vs. Appalachian State Tuscaloosa, Ala. W, 60-59


You can be sure a deep Alabama squad will be pressing a shaky Bruin backcourt at home in Tuscaloosa. This doesn't appear to be a recipe for a Bruin win, but as DCBruins said, this is a must-win game for the UCLA.

Can the Bruins turn it around on Sunday? I'll look at the match-ups on Saturday.