The Gauchos haven’t beat the Bruins in nearly 16 years, but first-year coach Mick Cronin has yet to meet them on the court at all.
UCLA men’s basketball (1-0) will host UC Santa Barbara (1-0) in Pauley Pavilion on Sunday with the last matchup between the teams coming in December, 2016. The Bruins won that matchup by 40 points and are 20-1 all-time against the Gauchos, with the one loss coming in 2003.
The teams have faced off just twice since.
But back in 2003, Cronin was roughly halfway through his debut season as Murray State’s head coach. Cronin went 28-6 that year, winning the Ohio Valley Conference and earning an NCAA tournament bid in the process.
Cronin is now in Westwood, where he opened his debut season in blue and gold with a tight victory over Long Beach State on Wednesday. Redshirt freshman guard Tyger Campbell scored a team-high 15 points in the 69-65 victory, playing 38 minutes in his collegiate debut.
The Bruins were outscored by one in the two minutes Campbell was off the court, but Cronin said after the game he wants to keep the redshirt freshman closer to the 30-minute mark moving forward.
But UC Santa Barbara does not have the same makeup as Long Beach State, which boasted 11 new players on its roster heading into this season.
The Gauchos have just three freshmen on the team and return four starters from last year’s 22-10 squad. UC Santa Barbara had four players score in double-digits – including a combined 56 from the trio of guard JaQuori McLaughlin, guard Max Heidegger and forward Amadou Sow – in its season-opening victory over Jackson State on Thursday.
Their leading scorer graduated after last season, but the Gauchos still managed to return 69.5% of their scoring load in the offseason. The Bruins, on the other hand, returned 47.6% of theirs.
UCLA’s second-straight matchup with a Big West opponent will tip off at 4 p.m. Sunday.