The biggest UCLA news of the day was not the Bruins football signing class even though today was the first day of the Early Signing Period for football. As it turned out, it was the UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin will not coach the Bruins tonight because of COVID-19 protocols.
In his place, assistant coach Darren Savino will lead the Bruins against the Alabama State Hornets.
Well, if there was a game for Cronin to miss, tonight’s game against the Hornets was it.
That’s because the tonight’s game is what is referred to as a “guarantee game.” A guarantee game is a non-conference game where the host school guarantees a payout to the visiting team.
Given the Hornets’ 1-9 record, a win tonight is almost a guaranteed win too.
Alabama State is coached by Mo Williams who played his college basketball for Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to their only number one ranking in school history under Alabama head coach and former UCLA assistant coach Mark Gottfried. After playing in the NBA until 2017, Williams became an assistant at Cal State Northridge in 2018 and he was hired to lead the Hornets in 2020. In his first season, Alabama State went just 4-14.
Williams will start a four-guard lineup against the Bruins. Three of those guards are freshmen and one is a redshirt sophomore.
The starting freshmen are DJ Jackson from San Bernardino, Juan Reyna, and Jayme Mitchell. Jackson and Mitchell are averaging less than three points per game while Reyna is averaging 8.1 ppg.
The fourth guard is Kenny Strawbridge who is averaging 8.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
The offensive leader for the Hornets is junior forward Gerald Liddell who transferred to Alabama State this season after playing last year at Texas. Liddell is the only guy on the roster averaging more than 10 points per game with 10.9 ppg.
Forwards Trace Young and Jordan O’Neal are two of the team’s bench players who are actually averaging more points per game than four of the team’s starters with 9.3 and 9.0 ppg, respectively.
Honestly, if you’re watching tonight’s game, it’s because your name is Dimitri and you have to so you can write the TMB postgame or because your Christmas shopping is done and there is absolutely nothing else on TV tonight.
Even without Mick, I’m thinking the Bruins may just double up the Hornets as long as UCLA doesn’t have Carolina on their minds.
This is your Alabama State at UCLA Bruins game thread.
Opponent: Alabama State Hornets (1-9)
Series Record: First meeting
When: 8:05 pm PT, Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Pac-12 Networks National and Los Angeles with JB Long and Ros Gold-Onwude
Live Stream: Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app
Radio:AM 1150 in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 84 & XM 373 (UCLA Call)
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Game Notes:UCLAAlabama State
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