Pflueger 12/5/18

Irish Head West To Renew UCLA Rivalry

Game 9: Notre Dame (6-2) at UCLA (6-2)
Date Saturday, December 8, 2018 | 10:35 p.m. ET
Location Los Angeles, CA | Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom (13,800)
Tickets TicketMaster 
Event         First True Road Game Of The 2017-18 Season
TV ESPN2 with Dave Pasch and Bill Walton
Radio Notre Dame Basketball Network (also available on the Notre Dame app) – with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland
Live Stats Notre Dame Athletics StatBroadcast Home Page
Where to Watch/Listen     More Information On Where To Watch/Listen To The Irish
2018-19 Stats Notre Dame | UCLA
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Social Media @NDMBB  | @FightingIrish  | @ndmbb 129943 | NDmbb on Facebook  


The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team (6-2) heads to the West Coast this weekend to take on traditional rival UCLA (6-2) in a non-conference battle on ESPN2. The trip also is a return to Southern California for the first time in senior captain Rex Pflueger’s (Dana Point, CA) career with the Irish.    


  • Notre Dame and UCLA will be meeting for the 49th time on Saturday night with the Bruins leading the all-time series 28-20. 
  • One of the most noteworthy college basketball rivalries of the 1970s and early 1980s, Notre Dame and UCLA met twice per season from 1970-71 through the 1982-83 campaign. The Bruins won 16 of those 26 meetings, but the Irish were able to claim eight of 11 victories from 1976 through 1980. 
  • The Irish are returning to Pauley Pavilion for the first time since February 7, 2009, when the Bruins earned an 89-63 victory over the Irish. Two members of the Irish travel party played in that game, as current assistant coach Ryan Ayers scored six points in 27 minutes while Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network analyst Zach Hillesland added three points with five rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes.  
  • In 2004, the Irish made the trip to UCLA on February 28, coming away with a 75-60 victory at Pauley Pavilion. 
  • The Notre Dame – UCLA series resonates through the history of the Irish basketball program for two key victories – an 89-82 win in Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 23, 1971 the last loss suffered by the Bruins before they ran off an 88-game win streak. That win streak came to an end with a 71-70 Notre Dame victory in Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 19, 1974. ESPN2 analyst Bill Walton played in the game in 1974 and finished 12-of-14 from the field with 24 points and nine rebounds. 
  • Saturday’s game marks just the eighth time in series history that neither team will be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the game. 
  • The first meeting between the Irish and Bruins at UCLA was held in Men’s Gym in 1960 (an 85-54 Bruin victory) while the rest of the games in the series have been held at Pauley Pavilion. 
  • Mike Brey is 2-2 vs. UCLA at Notre Dame and 1-0 against UCLA head coach Steve Alford. Notre Dame defeated New Mexico 70-68 in the 2009 postseason NIT in Purcell Pavilion when Alford was in his second year at New Mexico. 


  • The Notre Dame men’s basketball program will be playing its 40th game in the state of California on Saturday evening. 
  • The Irish are 13-26 all-time in California, with a bulk of those meetings coming against UCLA (24), San Francisco (five) and Southern Cal (four). 
  • The program’s first trip to the west coast occurred in 1949 when Notre Dame defeated St. Mary’s (CA) at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. 
  • Notre Dame will be making just its fifth trip to California under head coach Mike Brey. The first trip to California under Brey was in the NCAA Sweet 16 when the Irish fell to No. 2/2 Arizona at the Honda Center. Victories at UCLA (2004) and Loyola Marymount (2008) followed before the most recent visit – the 89-63 loss to UCLA in 2009. 


The Notre Dame – UCLA series is one of the top intersectional rivalries in college basketball and, when possible, the teams pursue chances to renew the series when their schedules allow. Much of the motivation behind the most recent home-and-home series with the Bruins was a return to California for senior team captain Rex Pflueger in his final season in a Notre Dame uniform. 

Pflueger returns to the area of his outstanding prep career at Mater Dei High School:  

  • 2014-15 Orange County Register Player of the Year after leading Mater Dei in scoring (17.0 pg), assists (3.4 pg) and steals (3.0 pg), and was second in rebounds (6.2 pg).
  • Led Mater Dei to the MaxPreps National Championship in 2013-14, serving as captain of the team that finished 35-0 to post the school’s first undefeated season.
  • 2015 Southern California Player of the Year.
  • Played in the 2015 Capital Classic All-Star Game in Washington, D.C.
  • Participated in the 2014 Kevin Durant Skills Camp, Lebron James Skills Academy and the American Family Insurance High School dunk contest.



Junior Juwan Durham leads the ACC in blocked shots per game with a 2.57 average (18 total in 7 games played).   


Returning starters for the Irish in 2017-18 (Rex Pflueger, T.J. Gibbs), matching the 2002-03 and 2009-10 seasons for the lowest in the Mike Brey era (2000-01 – present). 


Junior John Mooney leads the ACC in double-doubles (4) and is tied with BC’s Steffon Mitchell for the league lead in double-digit rebounding games with 5. 


Saturday night will mark just the fifth trip for the Irish to the state of California (and the Southern California area) during the Mike Brey era. The Irish are 2-2 in the Golden State (see page 3 of the notes package for more details). 


With five blocks in the victory over Illinois junior Juwan Durham became just the sixth Mike Brey-era player to block five or more shots in a game multiple times – joining a distinguished list of former Irish stars that includes current Irish assistant coach Ryan Humphrey, Jordan Cornette, Luke Harangody, Torin Francis and Bonzie Colson.  


Notre Dame began the 2018-19 season with a seven-game home stand – the longest to begin a season since 1986. It was the second-longest streak of home games to begin a season of the Mike Brey era, as the Irish played six straight at home to begin the 2013-14 season. 


Junior T.J. Gibbs has scored 18 or more points in four of his last five games played and is averaging 16.8 ppg in those five contests. 


Notre Dame owns more victories (20) over UCLA than any other non-conference opponent (BYU is the next closest with 11 wins). 


Senior Rex Pflueger leads the team in assists with 29 (3.6 pg) and has dished out at least three assists in seven of eight games this season. Pflueger is first on the team in assists (29) and steals (14) and is  tied for second in rebounds (38). 


Over the past three games John Mooney has pulled down 31 rebounds in 59 minutes of action – an average of .525 rebounds per minute played. Going back six games, Mooney has collected 61 rebounds in 147 minutes, just over .4 rebounds per minute. Against Oklahoma on Tuesday, Mooney grabbed the frist defensive rebound of the game, then posted four offensive rebounds on Notre Dame’s first possession. 


Juwan Durham has increased his career-high for points scored in each of the last two games (10 and 15, respectively) and has scored 32 points with 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots in his last three games played. 


Rex Pflueger helped his high school team, Mater Dei, to a 35-0 record in 2013-14 to earn MaxPrep’s National Championship recognition and posting the school’s first-ever undefeated season. For more on Pflueger’s prep career, see page 3 of the notes package. 


After a slow start to the season from behind the arc, T.J. Gibbs has started to find his groove from three-point range. Over the past three games, Gibbs has hit at least three 3FGs in each game peaking with a 4-for-7 performance on Tuesday against Oklahoma. Over the three-game stretch, he is 10-22 from three-point range (.454). 


With 508 career wins, Mike Brey is the 11th active coach to reach that career milestone coaching at just one or two institutions.