Who: Alabama; 26-6 (16-2) vs. UCLA; 20-9 (13-6)
When: 6:15 pm CT, Sunday, March 28, 2021.
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, IN.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink)
Alabama comes into Sunday night’s game against the UCLA Bruins on an 8-game winning streak that includes an SEC Regular season title and an SEC Tournament title. Now the Crimson Tide gets a chance to make history once again. If they can pull it off, a win would send the Alabama to their second Elite 8 in school history (2004). That is almost unbelievable when you think about Nate Oats only being in his second season in Tuscaloosa, but there is no looking ahead for the coaches and players as there is a very tough task ahead of them. UCLA comes in with a 20-9 record and some really nice wins. The Bruins have already picked up three wins so far in the NCAA Tournament (Michigan State, BYU, and Abilene Christian). UCLA will look to slow the pace against Alabama and try to pick up win no. 4 in the tournament. The Bruins come into this game ranked 296th in possessions per game (68.2) according to TeamRankings. Alabama, on the other hand, ranks 16th with 76.5 per game. When UCLA slows it down, they usually shoot the ball well. So far this season they are shooting 37.4% from 3 (no. 27), 50.4% from inside, and 46.3% overall. The Bruins do not take as many 3’s as Alabama, but they are efficient when they do attempt them. UCLA makes around 6/18 per game while Alabama makes approximately 11/30. The biggest advantage in this game will go to Alabama because of their rebounding and defense. In the last game against Maryland, Bama out-rebounded the Terrapins 40-19, and the game was never close after about midway through the first half. If Alabama can have an outing like that again, they will be in great shape. The second advantage they have is their defense. The Crimson Tide come in with a KenPom top 3 defense and they take that Blue Collar mentality to heart every time they step on the court. Alabama shoots the lights out from 3, but they are also one of the best in the country at defending it. The Tide is only allowing their opponents to shoot and make 28.9%. If they can hold UCLA to that number, it will be a ninth consecutive win for Alabama.
UCLA Players to Watch:
G Johnny Juzang (15.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.7 APG)
G Jaime Jaquez Jr. (12.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 APG)
G Jules Bernard (10.4 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.6 APG)
G Tyger Campbell (10.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 5.4 APG)
F Cody Riley (10 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 APG)
UCLA will give Alabama their toughest test of the NCAA Tournament, and it will be close until halfway through the second half. Petty and Shackelford’s 3-point shooting will be the difference, and the Tide will advance to their first Elite 8 since 2004.
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