Notre Dame men's hoops taking trip to UCLA
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Just days after a trip to New York City, Notre Dame men's basketball heads back on the road for another test.
This time it's on the opposite coast for a matchup against UCLA.
The Irish fell in a tight loss to Oklahoma at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, snapping a four-game winning streak. However, Saturday's game at Pauley Pavilion offers a chance to bounce back.
The game is part of an important stretch for Notre Dame, the fourth of five consecutive Power 5 opponents. After playing DePaul and Illinois at home, the Irish played away from Purcell Pavilion in the next three. There are only a few opportunities to pick up quality non-conference wins on the road, so head coach Mike Brey said his team knows what is at stake.
"Starting with DePaul, the five power games are important and they're opportunities for us," he said. "I’m thrilled we got the first two here. Obviously, the next three starting back in New York get harder, quite frankly. But they are opportunities for us."
The Irish practiced back at Purcell on Thursday before flying out to Los Angeles.
The trip to Westwood offers a return of an old rivalry that longtime Notre Dame fans can appreciate, reigniting a series that dates back several decades.
Perhaps the program's biggest victory came in 1974 when the Irish snapped No. 1 UCLA's 88-game winning streak.
However, that history is secondary to the job Notre Dame feels it has on Saturday. The Irish are only focused on the wealth of talent this year's Bruins bring to the floor.
"They have young pros," said Brey. "They have some one-and-done guys. Oklahoma was old and veteran. UCLA is young and gifted. They have athletic ability. The one thing about this program is they’ve always had good players at this place."
This game also serves as a homecoming for Dana Point native Rex Pflueger, who plays close to home for the first time in his Notre Dame career.
But still, the senior captain is focused on how much a road win could help the Irish going forward.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us," he said. "If we can get this win and hopefully build some momentum going to Indianapolis after finals, we should be on a roll going into ACC play."
The game is set to tip at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.