Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Golden State squads step on the floor for the first time in December when the No. 18 UCLA Bruins play host to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Pauley Pavilion.
After the first month of the season the Gauchos are in possession of an middling, 3-2 record. The Gauchos erased a two-game slide on Friday with an 83-64 triumph over South Dakota State. Alan Williams was incredible in the win, nearly posting a triple-double with 39 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks.
Seven teams have tried to beat UCLA and all seven have failed. The most recent victim of the Bruins' wrath was Northwestern, which got run over, 95-79, during the Las Vegas Invitational. UCLA is getting back to Pauley Pavilion after opening the season with five straight wins on its home court.
When these teams last met UCSB earned its first win ever against UCLA, taking a 61-60 final at Pauley Pavilion. The win ended an 18-game win streak for the Bruins against the Gauchos.
Williams carried the Gauchos to victory against South Dakota State in one of the more impressive individual efforts of the season by any player. The 6- foot-7 junior took 25 shots in the game, making 16, while accounting for nearly half of the Gauchos' point total. The rest of the roster fell in line behind Williams, as UCSB hit 55.2 percent of their field-goal attempts and assisted on 24 field goals.
Friday wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last time that Williams does the heavy lifting. On the year he is averaging a double-double (29 ppg, 11.7 rpg), though he missed two games. UCSB lost both of those contests. Williams does have players aiding him though. Taran Brown (10.6 ppg, 6.6 apg) works as a complementary scorer but is more important for his ability to find others on the court. Michael Bryson (12.2 ppg) adds depth with his 42.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Kyle Boswell (9.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) fits in nicely with Bryson and Brown in the backcourt.
UCLA put on a shooting clinic against Northwestern, especially from 3-point range. The Bruins netted 63.6 percent of their field-goal attempts, including an incredible 13-of-17 showing from beyond the arc. UCLA also helped itself to 14 Northwestern turnovers to put up 20 points.
In his first season as head coach, Steve Alford has the Bruins, who were potent offensively a year ago, playing on another level. UCLA is among the top 10 teams in the country in points (90.9 ppg), assists (20.1 pg) and field-goal percentage (.556). In fact, only Gonzaga is shooting a better percentage from the floor among Division I teams. Potent scoring guard Jordan Adams (21.4 ppg) has excelled as the top option now that he does not need to share the go-to spot with Shabazz Muhammad. Zach LaVine (14.3 ppg) is scoring well off the bench, especially from beyond the arc. Then there is Kyle Anderson (13 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 7.6 apg), who may have no equal in the country in terms of versatility.