Montana-UCLA basketball game canceled due to wildfire

Scores of UCLA students walked past the statue of John Wooden outside Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday with their faces masked. Inside the basketball home of the Bruins, things were quieter than expected.

UCLA canceled its game against Montana, scheduled for Wednesday night, because of concerns related to nearby wildfires.

“The health and safety of student-athletes, staff and fans is our top priority,” read a statement released by the school.

All team workouts and practices scheduled for Wednesday were canceled. UCLA had planned an early morning football practice in preparation for the Cactus Bowl against Kansas State on Dec. 26 at Chase Field in Phoenix. That practice was tentatively rescheduled for Thursday morning but was later canceled.

A sign posted on the door of the John R. Wooden Recreation and Sports Center advised students that “due to poor air quality, UCLA Rec recommends against all strenuous activity.” Nearby, a woman said she had handed out hundreds of free masks before noon. A line of students stretched more than 20 deep waiting their turn to receive a mask.

Cars in Parking Lot 8 were covered by a thin layer of white ash in the early afternoon.

The conditions did not prevent the NBA’s Houston Rockets from staging their scheduled practice inside the UCLA Student Activities Center. Point guard Chris Paul walked onto the court wearing a mask before indulging a few interviews preceding practice.

The cancellation of games at UCLA is rare. A football game on the road against Miami in 1998 was rescheduled for later in the season because of Hurricane Georges. Another football game, against Arizona State, was postponed until the end of the 2001 season after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Single-game ticket purchases for UCLA’s canceled basketball game will be automatically refunded, the school announced. Season ticket-holders will receive a credit for the cost of the game to their UCLA ticket account.

Ticket purchasers with questions can contact the school’s ticket office at (310) 825-2946 or cto@tickets.ucla.edu.

UCLA (7-1) will next play Michigan (7-3) on Saturday at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The nationally televised game will be shown in the Los Angeles area on Channel 2.

The Bruins defeated the Wolverines, 102-84, last season at Pauley Pavilion.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch


UPDATES:

2:05 p.m.: This article was entirely written through to include scenes outside Pauley Pavilion and elsewhere on campus, and also with information about previous cancellations involving Bruins sports teams.

This article was originally published at 11:40 a.m.

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