UCLA is ending the month of January the same way the Bruins started the month of January: By playing the Stanford Cardinal.
But UCLA is hoping that there’s a different result this time. That’s because Stanford beat the Bruins in double overtime when the teams met in Palo Alto.
While it wasn’t the worst loss for the Bruins, it certainly wasn’t pretty.
By all accounts, the UCLA Bruins should have been able to beat the Cardinal. On paper, the Bruins have a much better team. But there’s a reason they play the games and, on January 4th, UCLA was outplayed and, more importantly, outcoached.
As we’ve now seen all month long, Steve Alford is consistently outcoached by the conference’s other coaches. Heck, it wouldn’t be hard to make an argument that Alford was outcoached at the start of the game on Thursday night against UC Berkeley. He just got lucky that the Bruins seemed to gel as a team when Thomas Welsh got hurt.
Heading into tonight’s game, Welsh needs to be considered a question mark after spraining his knee on Thursday night. If Welsh is unable to go, it would be a big blow to the Bruins.
When the team met three weeks ago, Dorian Pickens scored 26 points while Daejon Davis scored 22. The Bruins are going to have to find a way to neutralize these guys while still keeping junior Reid Travis in check.
If Welsh is able to play, Steve Alford will need to find a way to get Welsh scoring. When the teams last met, the Cardinal held Welsh to just 8 points.
It should be interesting to see if Gyorgy Goloman starts tonight or not. On one hand, there’s a good case for leaving Goloman on the bench. On the other hand, Goloman scored a season-high 14 points against the Cardinal last time. It may prove to be an irrelevant question, however, if Welsh is unable to play because Steve Alford may not have a choice and may have to start Goloman in Welsh’s place.
There really is only one thing that matters tonight and that’s the fact that the Bruins need to win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.