UCLA Basketball: Road sweep vs. road swept – Alford’s Pac-12 road losses

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Aaron Holiday
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Aaron Holiday /

UCLA basketball once again failed to procure a road sweep as they lost to Utah in game one of their final road trip of the season, a pattern that is all too familiar.

The UCLA basketball team lost to the Utah Utes last night, making sure that the Bruins do not get a road sweep this weekend or this year. But no one should be surprised as this has been a pattern under head coach Steve Alford since he took over five years ago.

It is also no coincidence that in that timeframe, UCLA has not won a regular season championship. Why do I bring this up? Because in a conference like the Pac-12, winning on the road is vital to a team’s championship aspirations.

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Pac-12 teams play the same amount of conference road games as they do conference home games for a total of 18. If a team wins their home games and lose their road games, they go 9-9. That is not bringing in any hardware, so it is imperative that at team make their mark on the road.

Unfortuantely, that has not been the case for UCLA under Alford (these records only take into consideration two-game Pac-12 road trips and does not include UCLA’s road record against USC, but for your peace of mind, Alford is 2-2 at the Galen Center).

On The Road in the Pac-12 with Alford’s UCLA Basketball Teams

SeasonConf. Road TripsSweepsSweptSplits
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As you can see, playing away from Pauley Pavilion during conference season has been an issue. UCLA has only managed to get three road sweeps under Alford. All three came last year when Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf and Bryce Alford terrorized the west (and yet still couldn’t win the Pac-12 going 15-3 in the Pac-12). Other than that, Alford has zero to his name.

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On a sadder note, Alford’s Bruins have been swept six times with the potential to be seven if Colorado beats UCLA on Sunday.

If the Bruins win, Alford would have 11 road splits. Splits are alright, but it won’t win you the conference. If a team wins half of their road games (4.5, I will round up to five wins for the sake of this argument), then a team goes 14-4 in conference. In the last five years, a team with a 14-4 record has only won the conference once.

Clearly UCLA has a problem on their hands. If a team does not win (a lot) on the road, they are not winning a championship. In his five years, Alford has an overall home record of 73-12 (85.9%)., so he has no problem at Pauley, but things are just not working out on the road.

Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online had detailed the road win percentage of each Pac-12 team in the last five years (the length of Alford’s tenure). It is… interesting.

In the last four years, both Arizona and Oregon have won the conference. Notice anything about their road record percentages? Arizona has won 70.5% of their conference road games while Oregon has won 53.5%. Utah, which has not won any hardware, also has a better road win percentage than UCLA, 46.7% compared to 41.9%.

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The road has not been kind to the Bruins, especially in conference and if the pattern continues, Alford will not be successful on the road for seasons to come. Sure he might win one or two in a season, but that might be directly correlated to how talented the players he has on his team are and not necessarily his coaching. With that in mind, which way does UCLA want to go?