For the second consecutive year, UCLA entered the season as one of the top-ranked teams in the country and backed it up with a 7-0 start. Last week, however, the similarities ended as the Bruins had their season-opening win streak snapped well short of last year’s 14-game run.
After their first loss, the seventh-ranked Bruins look to get back on track on Saturday when they meet Davidson in the 14th Annual Wooden Classic at Honda Center.
UCLA’s 14-0 start last season was its best since 1972-73, when the Bruins went 30-0 and won the national championship under legendary coach John Wooden, for whom this event is named.
This year’s Bruins (7-1) entered this season with hopes of another long run, but their strong start was derailed with a 63-61 home loss to then-No. 8 Texas last Sunday. UCLA gave up season highs in points and rebounds (34), and forced a season-low nine turnovers.
“That wasn’t fun,” freshman center Kevin Love said. “It could be a good wakeup call for us.”
Love matched season lows with 11 points and five rebounds as the Bruins had their 25-game win streak at Pauley Pavilion snapped.
“I need to seek the ball out more,” Love said. “I only played 24 minutes, but five rebounds on my part is unacceptable. I should at least have 10 rebounds every game.”
The Bruins, who had held six of their first seven opponents to 40.0 percent shooting or worse, allowed Texas to shoot 47.5 percent.
“The bottom line is we didn’t play defense,” said point guard Darren Collison, who made his first start of the season after missing time with a sprained knee.
While the Bruins weren’t pleased with their play, it’s likely their struggles had a lot to do with meeting their highest-ranked opponent of the season.
Davidson (3-4) may not be as talented as Texas, but the Wildcats have played well against their two Top 25 opponents. They led for much of the second half of a 72-68 loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 14, and stayed close to then-No. 7 Duke in a 79-73 defeat last Saturday.
Both of those games were played at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, where the ACC tournament is being held. That was the primary reason the Tar Heels and Blue Devils agreed to play the preseason favorite from the Southern Conference, which is trying to return to the NCAA tournament.
“I don’t like this feeling at all,” Davidson guard Stephen Curry said after the loss to Duke. “Two times we’ve been in this gym and we’ve been right there with them.”
Despite those valiant efforts, Davidson has lost 23 in a row against ranked teams since beating then-No. 15 South Carolina on Jan. 12, 1974.
To end that drought, the Wildcats will likely need more help for Curry—one of the nation’s leading scorers with 26.0 points per game.
Curry hit seven 3-pointers and scored 32 points Wednesday, but only one other Davidson player reached double figures as the Wildcats lost 75-68 against Charlotte.
Curry was 7-for-14 from 3-point range, while the rest of the team went 3-for-20. He made nine of 19 field goals, but his teammates were 13-for-41.
Davidson lost its only previous meeting with UCLA, 91-64 on Jan. 3, 1975.
The Bruins are 7-3 in their 10 Wooden Classic appearances.