When the University of Alabama basketball team squares off against UCLA in the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on Sunday, it'll be just the sixth meeting between the programs, and second as part of March Madness.
At the end of the 2005-06 basketball season, Alabama landed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, only to have to travel across the country to San Diego.
It managed to beat Marquette, 90-85, but was then sent home by UCLA, ranked No. 7 in the nation in the final Associated Press Top 25 before the tournament, 62-59.
Mark Gottfried's program had faced UCLA during the 2001-02 season as well, a No. 16 vs. No. 20 pairing in the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Ca., a 79-57 loss. Anthony Grant's team split a pair of games, losing 75-67 in 2013-14, and winning 56-50 in 2014-15.
Guard Ricky Tarrant scored 18 of his 24 points during the first half and guard Levi Randolph matched him while also netting 24, including the 1,000th point of his Crimson Tide career. UCLA's first, and only, appearance in Coleman Coliseum still came down to the end with five free throws by Randolph during the final minute sealed the victory.
"That was a fight," Grant said afterward. "It was great that we had to grind it out like we've talked about, from a rebounding standpoint and from a defensive standpoint, and that was good enough to win today."
But the first meeting is the one (pun intended) that will forever be considered among the biggest wins in Crimson Tide history.
In 1983, Alabama went to Pauley Pavillion to play No. 1 UCLA, and the 10-6 Crimson Tide came away with a 70-67 upset victory.
Alabama never trailed in the game and led by as many as 16 points. Despite that, UCLA rallied back to tie the game.
The Crimson Tide was stalling for a final shot when Rod Foster intentionally fouled Mike Davis. After Davis hit two free throws, Foster missed a 15-foot jumper and Alabama got the rebound. The Bruins fouled Buck Johnson, who connected on one free throw for the final margin.
The Crimson Tide players wore black patches on their left shoulders in memory of Coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant, the former Alabama football coach who died three days prior to the game.
Wimp Sanderson's team ended up going 21-12 overall (8-10 SEC) and reached the championship game fo the SEC tournament in Birmingham. Alabama received an invitational to play in the 1983 NCAA Tournament, but lost in its opener.