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Big Apple NIT : UCLA Gets First Test Against New Mexico at Albuquerque

November 23, 1987|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

UCLA's basketball team will play the University of New Mexico tonight in the second round of the Big Apple NIT in what UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard is calling the first real test for his young Bruin team.

Not to disregard the Oral Roberts team that UCLA played in the first round of the tournament at Pauley Pavilion, but a 40-point victory (119-79) isn't much of a test.

UCLA will be playing tonight at 6:35 PST in The Pit, an apt name for the arena in Albuquerque. The average crowd since The Pit opened Dec. 1, 1966, has been 15,827. When the Lobos beat Weber State Friday night, 88-72, in the opening round of the Big Apple NIT, it was before a crowd of 16,420.

The Lobos have a record of 276-72 on their home court.

Besides having the home-court advantage, the Lobos are a very strong rebounding team. Lobo center Rob Loeffel is 7 feet tall and forward Charlie Thomas, a 6-7 junior who transferred from Wake Forest, had 21 points and 11 rebounds against Weber State.

"They have talent, they have depth, they're well-coached, they have a very good full-court press and they like to run," Hazzard said. "Then when they get that crowd behind them, we'll be very well-tested."

There will be an interesting matchup at forward, where UCLA's 6-8 sophomore, Trevor Wilson, will go against his half-brother, New Mexico's 6-7 senior, Hunter Greene.

A victory tonight would put the Bruins in the semifinal round of the Big Apple NIT in Madison Square Garden Friday night.

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