In last season's non-conference schedule, the UCLA basketball team faced North Carolina, Gonzaga and Kentucky in the span between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The immediate results were not positive — those games accounted for three of their five losses in a bruising non-conference slate.
The program released next season's non-conference schedule on Monday, and the schedule is no easier. Again, UCLA will play North Carolina, Gonzaga and Kentucky, this time all in December. This is not a surprise — all three games were previously announced.
The team will also make a trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. The field there has Kansas, Indiana, St. John's, UNLV, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Chaminade.
The schedule also includes Long Beach State, a tough out last season, and a rising Pepperdine team that returns with all its starters.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in a release that last season's early games against tough competition paid "huge dividends" later on.
"I've maintained all along that we want to upgrade our program's schedule in hopes of playing tough and exciting marquee games, and I'd say we've moved even further in that direction this year," Alford said.
The full non-conference schedule:
Nov. 13 vs. Monmouth at Pauley Pavilion
Nov. 15 vs. Cal Poly at Pauley Pavilion
Nov. 19 vs. Pepperdine at Pauley Pavilion
Nov. 23 vs. Maui Invitational a Lahaina, Maui (Hawaii)
Nov. 24 vs. Maui Invitational at Lahaina, Maui (Hawaii)
Nov. 25 vs. Maui Invitational at Lahaina, Maui (Hawaii)
Nov. 29 vs. CSUN at Pauley Pavilion
Dec. 3 vs. Kentucky at Pauley Pavilion
Dec. 6 vs. Long Beach State at Pauley Pavilion
Dec. 12 at Gonzaga at McCarthey Athletic Center (Spokane, Wash.)
Dec. 15 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette at Pauley Pavilion
Dec. 19 vs. North Carolina at
Dec. 22 vs. McNeese State at Pauley Pavilion