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Next Up - UCLA

Devils, Bruins, back at it in the Garden.

Grant Halverson

Next up for Duke is UCLA in a clash of legendary programs.

UCLA's run under John Wooden is and will remain unmatched, but Duke has been a great program since at least the '60s, with the exception of a rough patch in the early '70s and again in the early '80s.

UCLA canned Ben Howland after last season, bringing in Steve Alford whose reception was less than rapturous.

In fact, in many quarters it was downright hostile, particularly among UCLA fan sites, but also in the local media.

And when Alford's handling of the Pierre Pierce mess back at Iowa came back up, well, it just wasn't a good start.

Here's an update on Pierce, incidentally, who says he has nothing bad to say about Alford.

So far, though UCLA is 9-1 and winning tends to calm everyone down, even if the schedule is less than ideal.

Aside from Missouri, a loss, UCLA's schedule has been extremely weak and it's really hard to get a sense of what this team can do.

Former Tar Heels Travis and David Wear are still there and Tony Parker, who nearly was a Blue Devil, is getting more time after barely playing as a freshman and wondering publicly if he'd made a mistake in choosing UCLA.

The guy who may be the biggest pain though is St. Anthony's grad Kyle Anderson.

Anderson is something a bit uncommon, and that's a 6-9 point guard.

Duke doesn't have a natural matchup for him, though Rasheed Sulaimon might be the closest fit. Given his issues so far this season, that might not happen (or it might be a way to rebuild his role, too).

Although as we said it's hard to get a real fix on UCLA given the weak opponents, the Bruins are third in the country in scoring, averaging 89.1 ppg. They're also third in shooting percentage (54.3%) and assists-to-turnover ratio (18.9 to 10.2).

What we do know of course is that Alford and Mike Krzyzewski share a lot of basketball DNA, both having played for Bob Knight, K at Army and Alford at Indiana.

We would expect a certain amount of similarity in their approaches, though not a slavish copy of Knight's brilliance. Coach K has added a lot to what he learned from Knight, although certainly not zone defense except in some rare situations.

UCLA will have a significant size advantage, starting both Wear twins, Anderson, 6-5 Jordan Adams and 6-4 Norman Powell.

UCLA has six players 6-9 or taller.

On the other hand, UCLA lists 10 underclassmen and that may not be the ideal when playing a team like Duke.

The Bruins will have to find a way to deal with the Dynamic Duo, Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, either of whom can take over a game. Parker in particular shows an instinct for big moments while Hood is a constant threat from the three point line on in.

Duke may have a problem with Anderson, but we can't see either of the Wears matching up well with Duke's forwards, either.

UCLA will also have to contain Quinn Cook, who has proven to be a serious offensive threat and in particular a fearless driver whose ability to score over big men in the lane reminds one a bit of Isaiah Thomas.

Cook can at times appear reckless. In that he reminds us of Bobby Hurley and Coach K saying that he didn't want to limit Hurley's daring. There are times when Cook could be more patient, but he's becoming a tremendous threat.

And Duke has a revitalized and deadly weapon in Andre Dawkins.

The 6-5 senior can rip off 10-12 points in no time and you may remember his performance two years ago against Michigan State in the Garden. He's a huge asset as a reserve.

We should also mention Tyler Thornton here.

Thornton is a world-class pest, a player in the Wojo role if you will. He's not a freak athlete, he's not a huge scorer, he tends to pick up fouls.

Nonetheless, we wouldn't trade him for anyone. He's a winner in the best sense. People don't know how much Duke will miss him when he's gone.

Fouls will be key in this game. If Duke can avoid foul trouble, UCLA will have a tough job containing all the options Coach K has.

However, if Duke doesn't play tighter defense than Gardner-Webb experienced, UCLA will have a major advantage.