LOS ANGELES — Saturday’s 80-66 loss was Utah’s first game against UCLA at famed Pauley Pavilion.
Four of the Utes’ previous visits to face the Bruins (1928, 1929, 1961 and 1964) came before the 13,800-seat arena was built in 1965. The other (2012) occurred while the facility was undergoing a $136 million renovation — shifting the location of the game to the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Finally getting to play in the building where John Wooden coached some of college basketball's best teams and stars was a big deal for the Utes.
“This is tremendous to play here. It’s great,” said Utah athletics director Dr. Chris Hill. “The history here is ridiculous as everybody knows and it’s kind of fun to be able to do this and know we’re doing it year after year.”
After practicing on Nell and John Wooden Court Friday afternoon, Utah forward Jordan Loveridge noted that it was fun to be in a venue that he had heard about growing up — all the great stories and players that played in the arena.
“It was cool,” Loveridge said. “It’s a new arena and everything, but still I think it was cool just out of the greatness of the people that have been there, been through that program. It just makes it so much more special.”
BIG BROTHER: For the second time this season, Dorell Wright of the Portland Trail Blazers was on hand to watch his little brother, Delon, play for the Utes. He was also at the Washington State game in Pullman, Wash., in January — working his attendance around the NBA schedule.
“I’m six years older than my brother and eight years older than my little sister (Danae), so I’ve missed a lot of valuable time when I was younger, you know, being away in Miami and them being here in Los Angeles,” Dorell said. “So I try to come back and do as much as I can as far as supporting them or whatever with what they’re doing because they support me. I’m the big brother. They look up to me. So I just try to do whatever I can to make sure I’m here.”
Dorell sat on the front row right next to the basket near the Utah bench.
“That’s what family is all about — supporting each other and hoping for the best for each other,” he added.
Wright’s parents and several other relatives — as well as friends — were also at the game.
FAMILIAR FACE: Former Utah great Jerry Chambers, the Most Outstanding Player in the 1966 Final Four, was in attendance. He mentored Brandon Taylor at a nearby rec center while the sophomore guard was growing up.
“It means a lot to come back home and see my family and friends. I haven’t had this big of a crowd since high school,” said Taylor, who added that it’s great to go to the same school Chambers attended.
Chambers acknowledged that he watches the Utes play on television quite often.
“Brandon is a special player, a special guy. So I watch him and try to support him and everything,” Chambers said after watching Taylor play for the Utes in person for the first time.
EXTRA STUFF: UCLA now leads the all-time series with Utah by a 7-5 margin. ... The Bruins have won 15 straight games at home when scoring 75 or more points, the longest active streak in the nation. ... UCLA coach Steve Alford upped his overall record against the Utes to 6-5. Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is 1-3 against the Bruins.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @DirkFacer
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company