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UC, UCLA to play home-and-home series starting next season

Cincinnati guard Jarron Cumberland, right, drives against UCLA Lonzo Ball during the first half of a second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, March 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team will start a home-and-home series with Pac-12 Conference member UCLA beginning in 2017-18, the two programs announced Thursday.

UCLA will play host to Cincinnati on Dec. 16, 2017 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Cincinnati will welcome UCLA to newly renovated Fifth Third Arena on Dec. 19, 2018. Television and tip-time information will be announced at a later date.

“UCLA is a great series for Cincinnati and our fans,” UC head coach Mick Cronin said. “(UCLA head coach) Steve (Alford) and I have great respect for each other. Because of their success and history, Steve can choose from many schools for nonconference opponents. We appreciate the opportunity to play a nationally televised home-and-home series with them.

Jon Rothstein, College Basketball Insider for CBS Sports, first reported on April 19.

“We continue to work hard to play these type of games for our tournament résumé and our fans,” Cronin said. “Most importantly, we want our players and recruits to know that we are committed to playing the best teams in the country.”

The two teams met in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season in Sacramento, Calif., with the Bruins claiming a 79-67 victory on Mar. 19.

The Cincinnati-UCLA series is tied 2-2. Two of the other three meetings also have come in the NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats earned a 72-70 win in the 1962 national semifinal in Louisville, Ky., en route to winning their second consecutive national title. UCLA outlasted Cincinnati 105-101 in double overtime in a 2002 second round matchup in Pittsburgh, Pa. The only regular-season meeting in the series resulted in an 82-76 Bearcats win at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Dec. 18, 1965.

Cincinnati's 2017-18 squad features the return of its top three scorers from last season's team that posted the second-most wins in school history (30-6), tied the school mark for conference wins (16-2) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year.

UCLA wrapped up its fourth season under Alford in 2016-17 at 31-5 overall, finishing third in the Pac-12 with a 15-3 league mark. The Bruins welcome a highly touted recruiting class for 2017-18.

UCLA lost freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf to the NBA from that team. Head coach Steve Alford's son Bryce, a senior guard, also graduated.

Some information courtesy UC Athletics

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