Tonight, Steve Alford has more chances at dubious records. To go with his worst ever finish for UCLA since at least pre-1948 (10th place), Alford can be the first coach in 62 years to lose to USC three times in a season. (Editor's note: John Wooden was 1-3 against Southern Cal in the 1953-54 season. It would be the first time UCLA has gone winless in at least three games against Southern Cal since Wilbur Johns went 0-4 against them in 1941-1942.)
UCLA plays USC at 6:10 pm tonight in the 7-10 seed game at the Pac-12 tournament on the Pac-12 Networks. And, yes, UCLA has played USC three times in a season often, as recently as last year UCLA played USC three times in a season. (Actually, Norman Powell for his career never lost to USC.)
Of course this year, JustSC has beat UCLA twice already by an average of 16.5 points. Keep in mind, justSC is a school that could care less about basketball. Since last beating UCLA, JustSC has gone 2-6 in the Pac-12. JustSC only won two road games in the Pac-12, one over UCLA and the other over doormat Washington State.
The game tonight is in Las Vegas and UCLA is 1-3 this year on neutral courts. The only win came over a talented, but poorly-coached UNLV team in Maui.
Don't let anyone fool you. JustSC is a bad team, just not the worst in the Pac-12. That said, while the Cougars who won just one game in the Pac-12 (against UCLA) are the worst team, UCLA is not far behind.
But while JustSC is falling apart after a nice start, UCLA has a losing record and needs to win two games in the Pac-12 Tournament to get to .500. And JustSC is a bad matchup for UCLA. This is NOT the game to go big-big (which Alford starting playing again some last weekend). JustSC is a bunch of poorly-coached athletic players. The wheels came off their hot start as they are not a team as much as a bunch of athletes. Those athletes, such as Big Man Benny Boatwright or guard Jordan McLaughlin, can be a very tough matchup for UCLA.
If the Bruins were well-coached, they would be able to take advantage of JustSC as the rest of the league (outside of Washington State) did. As it is, it seems likely UCLA will lose to JustSC for a third time in a season.
If, by some miracle, UCLA were to get past JustSC, they would have a better matchup against Utah. Utah is not that talented outside of their center Jakob Poeltl and UCLA has ten fouls to send at him. Remember that UCLA only lost by two to them and were tied in the first half when they did a reasonable job on Jakob. If UCLA could play with intensity for 40 minutes, they could have a good shot at Utah. This game would be Thursday at 6.
Next up would likely be UC Berkeley. Berkeley is another bad match up for UCLA. However, two things would give UCLA a slim chance if they somehow got this far. Berkeley is not deep. UCLA is actually deeper. So, maybe, UCLA could take advantage of Berkeley.
However, the moral of the story is UCLA will likely lose to a slumping, poorly-coached JustSC team for the third time in a season. If this happens, there can be little argument that, statistically, Steve Alford is the worst coach in UCLA history.