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Georgia Tech Basketball Preview: UCLA

Aug. 18, 2017

THE FLATS – In the first meeting between the two teams since November of 2006, Georgia Tech and UCLA will face off halfway around the world, in Shanghai, China, to open the 2017-18 regular season on Nov. 10 (Eastern time). This is the second in a series of previews of the Yellow Jackets’ non-conference opponents.

Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
Conference: Pac-12
Home arena: Pauley Pavilion (13,800)
2016-17 Record: 31-5 overall, 15-3 in Pac-12 (3rd), 14th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, 86-75
NCAA Postseason Appearances: 45 (last in 2017)
All-time series record: UCLA leads, 3-1 (last meeting 2006)
Head coach: Steve Alford (entering fifth season, 559-280)
Starters returning/lost: 1/4
Top scorer returning: Aaron Holiday (12.3)
Top rebounder returning: Thomas Welsh (8.7)

Quick preview for 2017-18

Losing the likes of Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf will be an adjustment for UCLA this season, but with Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh returning, the new-look Bruins will have experienced anchors at guard and in the paint. After another successful year led by young stars and veteran seniors, UCLA will be younger in 2017-18, but still primed to compete for a Pac-12 Championship and make another Sweet 16 run.

Quick recap of 2016-17

Led by young stars and veteran seniors, UCLA was able to have another successful year, going 31-5 overall and 15-3 in the Pac-12 to finish third overall. What really impressed about the Bruins in 2016-17 was the run in the NCAA Tournament that had them make it all the way to the Sweet 16, only to fall to Kentucky, 86-75. T.J. Leaf led the way in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) and led the team in both categories in 18 games, while Lonzo Ball was the main dime-dropper for the Bruins, averaging 7.6 per game.

UCLA began its campaign on a 13-0 winning streak before Oregon took them down on Dec. 28, 89-87. Arizona would prove to be the thorn in the Bruins’ side all season, defeating them twice, with the second time coming in the second game of the Pac-12 Tournament to eliminate UCLA. Entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3-seed, UCLA made easy work of Kent State in the Round of 64 before toppling Cincinnati two days later, 79-67.

Greatest Program Accomplishment

Including seven straight titles won from 1967-73, UCLA leads all NCAA men’s programs with an impressive 11 national championships overall. The mark puts the team three ahead of Kentucky (eight) and at five more than North Carolina. The Bruins’ most recent championship came in 1995 when Ed O’Bannon pushed UCLA past Arkansas, 89-78. Despite the 22-year drought, UCLA continues to be a power in recent history, including making the Final Four three consecutive times from 2005-08.

Greatest player in program history

One of the greatest offensive forces in all of basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three consecutive NCAA Championships (1967-69) for a combined record of 88-2. As a three-time College Player of the Year and three-time consensus All-American, Abdul-Jabbar ranks first in Bruins history for scoring average (26.4 ppg) and second in 2,325 points and 1,367 rebounds. After being the only player in NCAA history to be selected Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four three times, he was selected No. 1 overall in the 1969 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks, leading to a 20-year career with Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his professional career, Abdul-Jabbar was named league MVP six times en route to winning six titles and holding the league scoring record with 38,387 points.

Place to visit on campus or in the city

Just a short drive from downtown Los Angeles, UCLA features a host of entertainment venues, beaches and dining. Whether students wish to take in a show at University Citywalk or Universal Studios, or head over to Disneyland or Six Flags Magic Mountain, it’s all within a short distance. And when the weather is just right, as it so often is, Venice, Manhattan or Malibu are all just five miles east of campus.


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