Twenty-five years ago this month, it was Lew Alcindor vs. Elvin Hayes in a classic matchup.
Saturday night, it was Richard Petruska vs. Charles Outlaw in, well, a matchup.
Hey, what about this Petruska?
Doing his best to do the memories justice, Petruska scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds to lead UCLA to an 87-78 victory over Houston before 7,047 at Pauley Pavilion.
The victory improved the Bruins' record to 9-2, a nice springboard to conference play that opens against Arizona next week.
Using his height advantage, Petruska, a 6-foot-10 senior from Levice, Czechoslovakia, owned the inside against Outlaw, who plays out of position at 6-8.
"That's the best game I've had," Petruska said.
Outlaw led the Cougars with 20 points, but he and his teammates could not do much to defend their basket.
Ed O'Bannon added 17 points for UCLA, most from the inside, and Shon Tarver had 16.
"They killed us inside," Houston Coach Pat Foster said. "They got so many easy baskets it was impossible for us to overcome. They kept coming inside, and we showed little resistance."
Then, Foster paid UCLA the Tobacco Road compliment.
"(North) Carolina didn't overpower us like that," Foster said. "I don't know what that says. We had more problems around the basket (against UCLA) than we did against North Carolina."
Houston (5-2) lost by 12 points to the Tar Heels on Dec. 13.
The Bruins had only to survive one major scare to hold off the Cougars in the second half.
UCLA led by as many as 10 points early in the half, but, with 7:25 to play, the Cougars cut the lead to 69-68 when Outlaw took a pass from guard Anthony Goldwire and dunked resoundingly.
But the Cougars would get no closer. Butler made a baseline jump shot with 6:05 to play and then made a pass to O'Bannon, who scored to put UCLA ahead, 73-68, with 5:33 to play.
The crowd sighed a collective breath when Petruska left the game with his fourth foul with 5:26 remaining, but his replacement, Rodney Zimmerman, kept the momentum going when he made a quick free throw and hit a baseline jump shot to give UCLA a 76-68 lead with 4:31 to play.
It was at this time that the Cougars collapsed, thwarting any comeback ideas with sloppy ball-handling and poor defense.
Butler slammed another one home to put UCLA up by 10 points. Guard Tyus Edney, who finished with 10 points and 10 assists, madetwo free throws late to put the Bruins ahead by 12.
The Cougars committed 22 turnovers.
"That is quite a lot," Foster said. "That's something that, if you have, you're not going to win. They didn't even press us that much. We didn't hold on to the basketball.
The Bruins had five players in double figures, with Petruska leading the way.
"He was a big horse in there," UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said of his center. "They didn't have anybody bigger than 6-8 or 6-9 in there, (so) he gave them a lot of problems."
Harrick was most pleased with the play of his reserves, particularly Zimmerman, who finished with seven points and two rebounds.
Not a bad outing before the conference opener.
"It's nice to beat a team that's very talented, that will probably make the NCAA tournament and will be there in the end," Harrick said.
The Bruins took a 43-35 halftime lead on the strength of two scoring runs. The first came without O'Bannon, who was forced out of the game for five minutes because of a bloody nose. The Bruins led, 14-13, when he left but didn't miss a beat because Petruska scored eight of his 12 first-half points while O'Bannon was away.
When O'Bannon returned with 6:44 to play, the Cougars went on a run of their own, outscoring the Bruins, 7-2, to cut the lead to 32-30.
Houston forward Jessie Drain scored five consecutive points on a three-pointer and a fast-break layup to narrow the lead to two points.
But O'Bannon controlled the rest of the half, scoring nine of his 11 first-half points in the last five minutes.
O'Bannon scored underneath and was fouled with 3:43 remaining. His free throw put the Bruins up, 37-33.
Saturday was nice, but Harrick says the best is yet to come.
"We'll be better in February than we are in January," he said.