Sweet 16 matchup: Can UCLA match Florida's intensity?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Florida defeated UCLA in the 2011 NCAA tournament, eliminating the Bruins in the second round.

Still, it was a Sweet 16 moment for current UCLA freshman guard Bryce Alford — his birthday was a couple of months earlier.

"I just got my driver's license," Alford recalled. "I was driving."

To a high school kid from New Mexico, UCLA's loss was far from monumental.

"I probably watched the game, or saw the score, whatever," Alford said. "It didn't have a whole lot of importance to me."

It's said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But does that apply to basketball?

UCLA (28-8) faces top-ranked Florida (34-2) in a South Regional semifinal Thursday at the FedEx Forum. This will be the fourth time the Bruins have played the Gators in the tournament, and college basketball's most decorated team is still looking for a victory.

That hangs over the Bruins as they get ready for this matchup — at least during media sessions.

As for game preparation, there doesn't seem to be too much fretting about the past.

In 2007, a year after the Bruins lost to Florida in the national title game, UCLA lost to the Gators in an NCAA semifinal. At that point Steve Alford was in the process of changing jobs, from Iowa to New Mexico

"I couldn't tell you one thing about that game," said Alford, now UCLA's coach.

Yet, it's something he has heard about — a lot —this week.

"We've got many more challenges getting ready for Florida," Alford said. "That's just one thing everyone is adding to it."

It hasn't led Alford to dig into the UCLA archive for old game tapes.

"I couldn't tell you what took place," Alford said. "All the tape I'm watching is on the current Gators."

That takes enough gumption to get through. Who needs to relive Joakim Noah highlights when this Florida team is top-seeded overall in the tournament?

The Gators are big and physical and will try to wear UCLA down with relentless defensive pressure. They come into the game with the nation's longest winning streak, 28 games.

"They have been in blowouts, but they have been in a lot of games where, inside five minutes, those kids find a way to win," Alford said. "That makes them a dangerous team."

Alford is unable to say whether the Gators are more dangerous than in 2011 … or 2007 … or 2006.

But story lines are what they are, and a big one this week has been UCLA and Florida history.