The UC Irvine men’s basketball team will open its 1990-91 season against UCLA in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout Nov. 23 in Anchorage.
Irvine had its worst season ever last year at 5-23. UCLA went 22-11 and advanced to the East Regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament before losing to Duke.
Both teams return four starters.
Senior Ricky Butler, who averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season, is Irvine’s top returning scorer. Other returning starters are sophomore forward Jeff Von Lutzow (9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds), sophomore guard Dylan Rigdon (7.7 points) and senior forward Craig Marshall (4.7 points, 2.6 rebounds).
UCLA will be led by forward Don MacLean, who averaged 19.9 points and 8.7 rebounds last season. Also returning are sophomore forward Tracy Murray (12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds), junior guard Darrick Martin (11.3 points, six assists) and junior guard Gerald Madkins (7.2 points, 3.7 assists).
The Bruins will have two of the nation’s top freshmen in Ed O’Bannon and Shon Tarver. The pair changed their minds about attending Nevada Las Vegas, the defending national champion, after the Rebels were banned by the NCAA from postseason competition because of alleged recruiting violations.
Tarver is a 6-5 guard from Oxnard Santa Clara High School and O’Bannon is a 6-8 forward from Lakewood Artesia High School.
Irvine has won two of the three previous meetings between the schools. The Anteaters won, 80-74, in the National Invitational Tournament at Pauley Pavilion in 1986 and won again, 91-90, at the Bren Center in 1988. The Bruins won, 116-100, at Pauley Pavilion in 1987.
Other Great Alaska Shootout first-round pairings: Siena (16-13 last season) vs. Virginia (20-12) at 2 p.m. (PST); Nevada Reno (15-12) vs. South Carolina (14-14) at 4 p.m.; and Texas Tech (5-22) vs. host Alaska Anchorage (22-8) at 9 p.m. Irvine and UCLA will play at 7 p.m.
The Great Alaska Shootout is a four-day tournament with four games on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, three on Nov. 25 and the championship game on Nov. 26. Michigan State won the Shootout last season.