3. UCLA Bruins (7-3) LW: 2
Steve Alford’s seat might have reached its boiling point.
After squeaking out a quality victory against Notre Dame, the Bruins laid an egg Saturday. A 74-72 home loss to Belmont revived most frustrations behind the seventh-year coach, and several moments pointed to his shortcomings.
For starters, UCLA shot a dismal 12-of-28 (42.9 percent) from the free throw line. They shot 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range. And to top it off, defensive miscues gave Belmont several backdoor layups, including the go-ahead bucket from Kevin McClain with three seconds remaining.
The loss dropped UCLA the Bruins to 7-3. And while Belmont is a talented mid-major opponent, fans in Westwood rightfully expect more.
Recruiting talents like Kris Wilkes, Jaylen Hands and Moses Brown hasn’t been an issue in Alford’s tenure. But with only one 30-win season and three Sweet 16 appearances, mediocrity won’t cut the standard set by John Wooden’s legacy.
Things won’t get any easier for UCLA before Pac-12 play begins. Tonight, they travel to face 9-2 Cincinnati at the Fifth Third arena before returning home Saturday to face 15th-ranked Ohio State.
If the Bruins finish 0-2, the pressure might be on for Alford’s dismissal.