Five years after last playing on the island, the BYU men’s basketball team makes its return to the Maui Invitational and will start Monday against UCLA.
After taking on the Bruins, the Cougars will face either Chaminade or Kansas on Tuesday and a third opponent (to be determined) on Wednesday. The invitational also includes Dayton, Georgia, Michigan State and Virginia Tech.
“What a great field,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “It doesn’t get any better than what they do here in Maui. You have some of the best programs in the country here for three days and we get to go out and see how we measure up. We’re excited for the challenge. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Bruins are coming into the tournament days after their only loss of the season, an 88-78 victory by Hostra on Thursday.
Pope is expecting UCLA will come out ready to go, wanting to move past the disappointing loss and get back to winning.
“They’re a well-coached team and have some talented guys,” Pope said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”
The first-year coach, however, expects his team to be ready to play.
“We need to come out with some juice, and I think our guys will,” Pope said. “I mean, how can you not? You’re in Maui playing in the biggest preseason tournament in college basketball.”
He said he’s never had a group of players so close-knit. They get along really well and fight for each other. So, Pope knows it will be challenging to play three games in three days, but he expects his team to give it all they’ve got.
Senior guard Zac Seljaas said he wants to use the opportunity as a measuring point for the Cougars.
“I’m excited; it’s fun,” Seljaas said. “These are awesome teams, great teams, teams that we never really played before. So, it’ll be fun to kind of see where we’re at and where we’re going this season.”
BYU vs. UCLA
At Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii
Tipoff » Monday, 9:30 p.m. MST
TV » ESPN2
Radio » 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2
Records » BYU 2-2; UCLA 4-1
Series history » UCLA leads 12-11
Last meeting » UCLA 86, BYU 79 (Dec. 18, 2010)
About BYU » Team is coming off a disappointing road loss to Boise State in overtime, 72-68. … After struggling to win the rebound battle in their earlier games, the Cougars outrebounded the Broncos 44-42. … Jake Toolson is averaging 16.0 points to lead the offense, shooting 42% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc.
About UCLA » It is the team’s sixth appearance at the Maui Invitational and first since 2015. … Jalen Hill leads the offense with 62% shooting from the field and averages 15.2 points. … The Bruins have plenty of height — something BYU lacks — with nine players 6-foot-6 or taller. … UCLA’s 15-man roster includes 13 returners, including eight who competed in the bulk of the team’s games last season.