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UCLA Basketball vs. Pepperdine - Game Day News & Notes

It's game day! Ahead of tip-off between UCLA and Pepperdine, we have an assortment of basketball-related tidbits from around the Bruiniverse.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA vs. Pepperdine

The Bruins' season got off to a bumpy start with an overtime loss to Monmouth, but UCLA rebounded by eking out an 88-83 win over Cal Poly. It was hardly an inspiring start for Steve Alford and the Bruins, but they have a chance to make a better impression tonight when they face Pepperdine at Pauley Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7:30 PM PST.

In case you missed it, DC has an excellent preview of the game in which he discusses the advantageous matchups that this game presents for UCLA. As DC notes, Pepperdine has a very experienced team, and the Waves have a better KenPom ranking than either of UCLA's previous opponents, but Pepperdine is relatively small and does not shoot well from the perimeter. The Waves' strength is their defense (they are ranked 63rd in adjusted defense), but they are likely to have a really tough time stopping UCLA's inside game with Parker and Welsh. That of course assumes that the Bruins will go inside to Parker and Welsh; if they don't, it could be a long night.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat has its first week of Pac-12 basketball power rankings, and it should come as no surprise that the Daily Wildcat has the Wildcats at the top of the rankings after Arizona's "dominating" victories against Bradley and Howard--presumably the colleges, not just two dudes who were hanging around McKale Center. The Bruins are 10th in the Daily Wildcat power rankings, four places behind USC. Ouch!

Joey Kaufmann at the OC Register reports on the progress of Aaron Holiday from Monmouth to Cal Poly, and also briefly discusses the fact that Steve Alford has yet to make his big-big lineup work on the defensive end.

The Intern (aka Zach Helfand) has a terrific feature on Pepperdine assistant coach John Impelman, the great-grandson of Coach Wooden. From the opening paragraphs of the story, you can tell that Impelman got his values from Coach:

As a high school senior, John Impelman followed a long line of family members and applied to UCLA.

Wishing to be accepted on his own merit, he sent the same materials as any other applicant: no special recommendations, no emails to the chancellor and, certainly, no mention of his grandmother's maiden name.

And that is how the great-grandson of John Wooden got rejected by UCLA.

I highly recommend the article.

UCLA Basketball Recruiting

On Wednesday, USA Today announced the 2015-16 American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason boys basketball team. At the risk of making Sean Miller blubber, I'm pleased to say that two future Bruins have been named to the team: Chino Hills PG Lonzo Ball and Foothills Christian PF T.J. Leaf.

Ronnie Flores at takes a look at the leading candidates for Mr. Basketball USA, an award given to the national high school player of the year. Lonzo Ball is in the mix, though Flores describes Ball as "one of the most polarizing elite players:"

"Why He Could Win: One word that describes this UCLA commit is "unique." He is a pin-point passer all 84 feet of the court and has grown to a true small forward size with uncanny rebounding ability for a true point guard. Ball is the CIF's best player (Josh Jackson's Prolific Prep team is an independent program), he's one of the state's best scorers, the best passer and could very well be the best rebounder. He's that good.

Why He Wouldn't: Ball is one of the most polarizing elite players on social media, as some feel the style in which Chino Hills and his travel ball club play doesn't translate to the next level. Others feel he is a generational talent at the point guard position. Because of the mixed bag of opinions, Ball might be high on some lists and lower and others. Regardless, he's going to have to play his best at the City of Palms Tournament and winning a CIF state title would go a long way, too."

For what it's worth, Flores lists T.J. Leaf among his "other strong candidates from strong programs."

Finally, for those who missed it, USA Today released its updated composite basketball recruiting rankings for the Class of 2016 last week. The Bruins have three players in the top-100; Arizona has zero.

UCLA Women's Basketball

After a convincing 73-58 victory over #33 St. John's to open the season, the Bruins moved up just one place in the USA Today Coaches Poll--from 35th to 34th. On Friday, UCLA plays another strong team when James Madison comes to town. The Dukes (2-0) are ranked 38th nationally after defeating Longwood 88-30 and Morgan State 92-31, and return a strong group of players from the 2014-15 squad that won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship and played in the NCAA Tournament. It's a rematch of last year's season opener that saw the Bruins lose 91-87 in overtime after throwing away a late lead.

It's a very important game for the Bruins, especially with a contest against #2 South Carolina on Sunday, and a trip to the Bahamas next week to play in the Junkanoo Jam where the Bruins will likely face #3 Notre Dame on the second day of the tournament. Given the degree of difficulty of the Bruins opening series of games, I have little sympathy for Steve Alford when he complains about the "brutal" schedule his team faces.

Pregame Guesses

  • True or False: UCLA will beat Pepperdine by 7 points or more.
  • Who will lead the Bruins in assists tonight?
  • Steve Alford has boasted about the depth of this year's team. With that in mind, how many of UCLA's bench players will get 10 minutes or more of playing time tonight?