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Sweet 16 Redux: UCLA Takes On Gonzaga In Repeat Of 2006 Matchup

The Bruins face off against the Zags today in Houston, hoping for the same result as 2006.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It's gameday!

The Bruins face Gonzaga starting at 4:15 pm this afternoon at NRG (formerly Reliant) Stadium in Houston on CBS. But, let's face it. Most of us West Coasters will still be at work when the game tips off.

So, plan on watching the first half of the game at the office via NCAA March Madness Live website.

The keys to the game for the Bruins are simple.

1. Avoid foul trouble.

If the starters stay out of foul trouble, they'll play more minutes which is essential to UCLA winning this game as the Bruin bench is still thin. While they've played well of late, the Bruins still can't count on the bench to score many points.

2. Avoid the late run

All season long, UCLA has run out of gas late. The UAB game was the exception to that as the team prevented the Blazers from making a second half run last weekend. But, in the games that UCLA has lost, this has been a constant problem. It was almost a problem last week against SMU, but somehow, some way, the team managed to hold off the Mustangs. If the Zags make a late run, it may prove too much for this team. But, if the Bruins can keep Gonzaga from doing that, the team may advance to the Elite 8.

While you're waiting for the game to start, ASAP Sports has posted a full transcript of yesterday's press conference with Steve Alford, Bryce Alford, and NP4.

The first question for Coach Alford was:

Q. How is your team different from the December game with Gonzaga?

COACH ALFORD: Well, hopefully a lot. Watching that tape a couple times over, I think we're a much, much mature basketball team than what we were there. And again I've said that, it's such a credit to our guys because we were going through -- that was the start of a stretch, Gonzaga at home, Kentucky in Chicago, at Alabama, that they could have just turned the switch off. And then we got the reset button with the conference starting. And then we have to start on the road to Colorado and Utah. They could have just stopped and stopped again. I think that's where them trusting with us and trusting one another, they've stayed at it and kept working. It's a young group. It's a young, inexperienced group. They're going through it for the first time. They started to mature and get a lot better and we've won six out six. And even I think going 14 and 6 from that point on, you know, even the games we lost at Arizona State, at Cal, at Arizona, those were losses for us. We were right there and played well in those. Just the maturity of the team, understanding roles, trust in one another, having only one senior playing in the rotation and having him be a good leader and staying with it even when we were going through some tough times, I think all that kind of has brought us to the point that we are at now.

His next question asked about Kyle Wiltjer of Gonzaga.

Q. Steve, from the first meeting, what makes Wiltjer so difficult with his combination of size and also his ability to step out and shoot the three?
COACH ALFORD: You said it. He's got a combination of all those things. They're just a very dangerous team. They're so efficient offensively. They don't beat themselves. They take care of the basketball. They know the shots they want to get. They've got a lot of experience on the team. Wiltjer, Sabonis, Karnowski obviously get a lot of attention up-front and warranted because they're big, they're talented, very skilled bigs. Wiltjer can go inside out, but the three guards that are all seniors, you know, you got three senior guards, they understand the moment. They understand when runs are against them. They understand when they are in the midst of a run. Those three senior guards I think really solidify what they're able to do as a basketball team. They have got a very good bench. Got a ton of respect for Mark and his staff. They do a tremendous job and have done it consistently over time. We know we've got a very, very tough matchup. This is a very good basketball team. You're about maybe two possessions away in the BYU game and one possession away in the game at Arizona to where you'd be looking at them as being undefeated just like Kentucky. That's how good this team is.

There isn't a lot new here that most of us wouldn't expect, but, if you have some time before the game starts, it's worth the read.

This is your UCLA Sweet 16 game thread.

Go Bruins!!!