UC Santa Barbara-UCLA Preview

The Associated Press

Steve Alford is off to the best start to a coaching tenure in UCLA history.

Bryce Alford will try to help keep his father and the Bruins unbeaten by building on his best performance of the season Tuesday night when they meet upset-minded UC Santa Barbara or the first time in 10 years.

Steve Alford became UCLA's first coach to debut 7-0 after the Bruins routed Northwestern 95-79 on Friday to claim a share of the Las Vegas Invitational crown. The Bruins, who have yet to play a true road game, will likely face a stern challenge at Missouri - which also took a share of the title - on Saturday.

Until then, Bryce Alford will try to help spur No. 18 UCLA to another impressive shooting display against the Gauchos (3-2). The freshman guard had a season-high 18 points Friday, connecting on 7 of 9 shots, including all four attempts from beyond the arc. .

"As we go, I feel a lot more comfortable," said Alford, who is 9 for 20 from 3-point range and had averaged 5.0 points the first six games. "I'm settling into my role. I'm really starting to know the offense."

The same could be said for a number of Bruins after the team shot 63.6 percent from the field - 13 of 17 from 3-point range - against the Wildcats.

UCLA has connected on 23 of 37 3s over the past two games. The team is shooting 55.6 percent from the floor overall while outscoring opponents by an average of 23.0 points.

"I think we have a lot of guys that can shoot the basketball and stretch defenses," Steve Alford said. "And because of our lineups, there a lot of things we can do and how we play."

Continued production from sophomores Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson could spur the Bruins to their first 7-0 start in 2007-08, which was also the last time they reached the Final Four.

Adams, one of three Bruins to score 18 points Friday, leads the team with an average of 21.4, and he's shooting 42.9 percent from behind the arc.

Anderson, meanwhile, is averaging 13.0 points while adding team highs of 9.7 rebounds and 7.6 assists per contest. The swingman and Las Vegas Invitational MVP narrowly missed his second triple-double of the season Friday, finishing with 16 points, nine boards and nine assists.

The Bruins are 18-1 against UC Santa Barbara, but that defeat came at Pauley Pavilion in the most recent meeting Dec. 17, 2003.

The Gauchos are trying to build on Friday's 83-64 win over South Dakota State, and could use another terrific performance from Alan Williams.

The junior center bounced back after missing two games due to back spasms with career highs and school records of 39 points and eight blocks to go with nine rebounds and three steals. The effort earned him Big West player of the week honors.

"He had a pretty special game," coach Bob Williams said. "He really got it going, especially in the second half, and is very deserving of the honor."

Alan Williams is averaging 29.0 points, 11.7 boards and 4.0 blocks in three games, all wins for UC Santa Barbara.

The Gauchos have lost four in a row to ranked opponents by an average of 18.5 points.

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