Mercy! UCLA’s nonconference basketball schedule features a heavy religious bent

UCLA guard Aaron Holiday (3) is congratulated by guard Jaylen Hands (4) and forward Gyorgy Goloman (14) after sinking a three-point shot late in the game against USC at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 3.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s men’s basketball schedule should provide more than a prayer for early season success.

The Bruins will play six schools with religious affiliations as part of the nonconference schedule released Wednesday, with only one — Notre Dame — hailing from a major conference.

The Bruins will also play St. Francis, Presbyterian, Loyola Marymount, Belmont and Liberty — all at Pauley Pavilion — as part of their slate of 13 nonconference games. UCLA’s game against the Fighting Irish on Dec. 8 at Pauley Pavilion will be the 49th meeting between the longtime nemeses but the first since 2009.


UCLA will open the season with a home game against Purdue Ft. Wayne on Nov. 6 after playing an exhibition against the New York Institute of Technology at Pauley Pavilion on Oct. 27.

The Bruins’ marquee nonconference games will all come away from home, with the exception of the game against Notre Dame. UCLA will play Michigan State at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 22 before playing either Texas or North Carolina in the same event the next day.

UCLA will also play at Cincinnati on Dec. 19 at the Bearcats’ newly renovated Fifth Third Arena and will face Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 22. The Bruins’ final game before opening Pac-12 Conference play will come against Liberty on Dec. 29.

UCLA could play as many as five teams that competed in the 2018 NCAA tournament as part of its nonconference schedule.

“We’re excited about the nonconference schedule that we have assembled this year,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said in a statement released by the school. “Whether you’re looking at the November tournament in Las Vegas or the mid-December trip to Cincinnati and Chicago, our guys have some good nonconference challenges ahead of them.

“Being able to add Notre Dame to our schedule the next two seasons is great for our sport. That’s a classic matchup with a ton of history. There’s a lot of work to be done before November, but I like this group’s potential for growth, based on what we’ve seen in our summer workouts.”


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UCLA’s nonconference schedule: Nov. 6 vs. Purdue Ft. Wayne, Nov. 9 vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 16 vs. St. Francis, Nov. 19 vs. Presbyterian, Nov. 22 vs. Michigan State at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nov. 23 vs. Texas or North Carolina at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nov. 28 vs. Hawaii, Dec. 2 vs. Loyola Marymount, Dec. 8 vs. Notre Dame, Dec. 15 vs. Belmont, Dec. 19 at Cincinnati, Dec. 22 vs. Ohio State at United Center in Chicago, Dec. 29 vs. Liberty.