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UCLA basketball: Bruins want a higher cholesterol non-conference diet

There should be fewer creampuffs for UCLA’s basketball team to munch on in the future.

The Bruins’ non-conference schedule prepared them well for conference play. Of course, that’s provided that conference is the Big West or Big Sky, maybe even the American East … look out Stony Brook.

But Coach Steve Alford wants something meaty, something chewy when gearing up for the Pac-12 Conference.

“We want to play elite teams,” Alford said. “One of the reasons you come to UCLA is to play elite teams. It’s what our players want.”

It helps when the postseason rolls around, not in whether the Bruins get in the NCAA tournament, but where they will be placed.

Still, there is more to it than klieg-light moments, Alford said.

“It’s not just building a resume, but, more importantly, it’s getting ready for league play,” he said.

UCLA had a 4-2 record against teams that had winning records in non-conference play. The four wins came against mid-majors that may or may not win their conferences: UC Santa Barbara (9-4), Morehead State (11-6), Drexel (8-5) and Chattanooga (9-8). The Bruins are 0-3 against power conference teams with winning records: Missouri (12-2) and Duke (9-4).

The Bruins lost to top-ranked Arizona on Thursday, the first quality Pac-12 team they came across.

“When you have 15 tapes to scout [conference] teams, everyone knows each other,” said Alford, who pointed to Arizona’s schedule.

 “They played two games in Madison Square Garden [against Duke and Drexel], a game at Michigan and a game at San Diego State,” Alford said. “They played a schedule that got them very, very prepared to compete in a great league.”

UCLA’s only nonconference games scheduled for 2014-15 are in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Butler, Oklahoma and Alabama Birmingham are also in that tournament.

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