Lahaina, Hawaii — Two of the top programs in college basketball history — that would be Kansas University and UCLA — meet today for the 18th time overall with a spot in the finals of the Maui Invitational on the line.
The UCLA Bruins, who are coached by Steve Alford, dumped UNLV, 77-75, on Monday in a quarterfinal, setting up today’s 9 p.m. semifinal match between the bluebloods.
UCLA leads the all-time series vs. Kansas, 10-7.
The Jayhawks won the last meeting, 72-56, which actually was another Maui Invitational semifinal battle just four years ago. KU has won three in a row, four of five and seven of nine in the series.
Images from Monday night's game between the Jayhawks and Silverswords during the first-round game of the Maui Invitational.
UCLA on Monday was led by Thomas Welsh (7-0 soph, Redondo Beach, California) and Bryce Alford (6-3 junior, Albuquerque) who had 20 points apiece. Alford had six rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in 40 minutes. Welsh had eight boards in 34 minutes.
Aaron Holiday (6-1, freshman, Chatsworth, California) had 18 points and two steals in 32 minutes. UCLA hit 45.5 percent of its shots and went four of 10 from three and 23 of 24 from the line.
UCLA is 3-1, having lost to Monmouth, 84-81, to open the season and having beaten Cal Poly (88-83) and Pepperdine (81-67). UCLA will meet Kentucky on Dec. 3 and also plays North Carolina and Gonzaga in the nonconference season.
“We recruited Tony Parker hard,” KU coach Bill Self said of the 6-9 senior from Atlanta who had two points, three boards in 11 minutes vs. UNLV. “Bryce Alford doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He can score but he’s obviously a good guard.
“If we don’t guard better we are not going to be successful,” Self added. “We are relying on making shots. You can’t play that way.”
Of the KU game, Steve Alford said: “I got here for seven minutes of that game (KU’s win over Chaminade). They are a premier team in the country, a top five team. Coach Self and his staff do an incredible job. They are deep and talented. You want to get in the championship bracket. I told our team we’ve made strides. In the tournament in the Bahamas last year we lost the first game to Oklahoma, a game like this. Maybe (we’ll) take a step forward with this group. You get on the right side of the bracket you face teams like Kansas. It’s why we’re blessed to play in a tournament like this. When we get home we’ll be able watch tape of three quality teams on this right side. We look forward to the opportunity but it’s a very tall task.”
— See what people were saying about KU's rout during KUsports.com’s live coverage