Bryce Alford has won a lot of road games for UCLA, but the Bruins’ 77-72 win over No. 4 Arizona on Saturday had to be one of the sweetest.
“They don’t lose a whole lot there, so to go in there and win one was huge for our team and something that’s really going to help us moving forward,” Alford said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “For me as an individual, that was the last place in the Pac-12 that I hadn’t won on the road. That was really special for me to end my road career in the conference with a win.”
Alford scored a team-high 15 points for UCLA (26-3), which is ranked third in the country.
Alford has been a great player for UCLA, which wouldn’t have happened if his father, Steve, didn’t become the Bruins’ head coach in 2013. Alford, who played high school ball in Albuquerque, had intended to play for New Mexico.
“It was difficult,” Alford said. “I really had a passion for New Mexico, and I loved it there. I had all kinds of friends there, and I was ready to be a Lobo. And then my dad sent me a text one day after school and asked me what the deal was, if I wanted to play for UCLA. I was pretty confused. I didn’t know what was going on. But it was a hard decision and my dad kind of just laid out all the pros and cons for it and we had family discussions. A place like UCLA is pretty hard to turn down, but at the end of the day, we kind of had to do it.”
Alford, a senior, hopes to lead UCLA to its first Final Four since 2008. Of course, it helps that the Bruins have six players averaging double figures, including Lonzo Ball, who is averaging 14.8 points, 7.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds.
Ball may have a father, Lavar, who likes to talk, but Ball lets his play speak for itself.
“We kind of mess with Lonzo about (his dad’s comments) because he doesn’t even really know what to say about it,” Alford said, laughing. “He’s all about business. He just goes and takes care of his business. He loves his dad very much, and we just kind of laugh about it. We like the optimism out of him. It’s funny, but we kind of joke around with Lonzo.”
Ball, a likely lottery pick in this year’s draft, is okay with that.
“If you actually met Lonzo and sat down with him or really got to know him, he’s as genuine as a guy as I’ve ever met,” Alford said. “He plays that way, and that’s how he is off the court. I think he might get a bad rap every once in a while, but at the end of the day, I don’t think he could care less abut what other people think of him or his dad. I think he just goes out there and handles his business.”
UCLA hosts Washington (9-19) on Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET.