Students camped out overnight Friday to be the first to stream into Pauley Pavilion at 5 a.m. Saturday. The reason? ESPN's "College GameDay" was to broadcast live from the remodeled arena Saturday morning.
UCLA basketball players delivered pizza to camped-out students Friday night. Coach Ben Howland even stopped and threw a few beer pong balls (he didn't drink). Shabazz Muhammad was spotted at the table, and freshman forward Tony Parker played video games with students.
Of the four "GameDay" analysts - Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and Jalen Rose - Phelps and Rose picked the Bruins.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott hadn't seen a game at new Pauley until arriving with his son Saturday.
"What I love about it is that it's got all the modern amenities, and it's a terrific new venue, but I love the way they've paid homage to the past," he said. "It's like a museum - a UCLA basketball museum."
He said the Bruins "struck a very nice balance" between modernity and history. The rest of the country likely judges the Pac-12 on how UCLA and Arizona do each year.
"I think people look at conferences and the brands associated with them," he said. "When it comes to basketball, UCLA and Arizona are our strongest brands historically.
"To some extent, the national perception of the conference is affected by how the stories programs do."
At halftime, UCLA honored the 1972 national championship team - a 30-0 squad that gave coach John Wooden his sixth straight NCAA title.
Bill Walton, wearing a letterman's jacket, waved to the crowd. So did Jamaal Wilkes, who earlier this season became the eighth UCLA player to have his number retired.
Gary Cunningham, an assistant on the team who would later coach UCLA to a 50-8 record over two seasons, was honored, too. Former players Swen Nader and Greg Lee were there; Henry Bibby and Larry Farmer, currently coaching, couldn't attend.
Like the scoreboard?
UCLA's state-of-the art scoreboard - which features LED screens on four sides, with a round message board underneath - sure would look good at McKale Center, wouldn't it?
Athletic director Greg Byrne said fans shouldn't be surprised to see a new McKale videoboard next season.
"A definite maybe," he said.
Byrne, whose department has been scouting scoreboards at other schools, said he dug the UCLA version.
"Kinda like the look," he said.
The big number
UCLA gave a free ticket upgrade Saturday to a fan who first attended a Bruins game in 1933. The 98-year-old was a three-year prisoner of war during World War II.
Basketball players ringing Nell & John Wooden Court could have formed a team and beaten either the Wildcats or the Bruins.
Los Angeles Clippers teammates Blake Griffin, Matt Barnes, Chauncey Billups, De'Andre Jordan and UCLA grad Matt Barnes sat together underneath the basket by the Wildcats' bench.
Two-time NBA all-star Baron Davis, a retired Bruins alum, watched from good seats. Pac-12 career leading scorer Don MacLean called the game on radio, while Tyus Edney worked from the UCLA bench.
UCLA honored its lone senior, point guard Larry Drew II, as part of a quick Senior Night ceremony before tipoff.
Drew was joined by his family, including his father, Larry, who is the coach of the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are in town to play the Lakers today.
"Big coincidence," the younger Drew said. "I love the fact he got to come see me play."
A few favorites from the UCLA student section:
• "Arizona Wasn't Even My Safety School"
• "Bilas is the Trillest"
• "Solomon Hill uses MySpace"
Another big number
Saturday's attendance, a Pauley Pavilion record
"You can see that you don't necessarily need a new building for it to feel much different. You can only imagine how spectacular McKale can be with similar type of things."
- UA coach Sean Miller, on new Pauley Pavilion