When the Mizzou basketball schedule came out for this season, one game stood out to me: December 28 at UCLA. Being from California, I previously thought that there was no chance I would be able to catch any Mizzou basketball while I was home for a month for winter break.
Los Angeles is a quick two hour trip from San Diego, where I’m from, and going to this game was a great opportunity to see my school play – and also to visit one of the best college basketball stadiums in the country: Pauley Pavilion. As soon as tickets went on sale, I jumped at the opportunity.
By now, you know what happened in the game. As our own Nate Jacobson recapped, the game was back in forth, with UCLA leading by as much as 14 in the first half and MIzzou taking a nine point lead with just over four minutes to go. Late game decisions and a questionable no-call on a possible flagrant foul by UCLA allowed the Bruins back into the game. Once the game went into overtime, Shabazz Muhammad was too much to overcome for the Tigers, sending me home heartbroken. Despite the loss, I had a great time cheering on my Tigers on the road. I learned a lot about the history of UCLA basketball and the Pauley experience, while also getting some tips for watching a game in an opposing arena. Here’s what I learned:
Roll Call – I really liked one of the traditions the UCLA student section did just before the game began. As the Bruins were warming up, they did what they call “roll call”. The students chanted the name of each player, whether they were a starter or a walk on, after they took their turn in layup line. It’s a small thing the student section does, but it shows the players how much they care about them. Roll call is something I would love to see Mizzou basketball fans start up. Everyone that goes to games with me knows I love walk-on and coach’s son Corey Haith. Roll call would be a great way for me to show my appreciation for Corey, while also letting each and every player on the team know that the student body has their backs.
History, History, History – I have never seen a team talk about its past more than UCLA. Instead of a pre-game pump up video, the Bruins talk about their past successes, mentioning all their past titles and conference championships. As Mizzou fans know, we have had some heartbreak against the Bruins in the past, most notably when Tyus Edney went court to court in four seconds to beat the TIgers back in 1995. The Bruins didn’t forget about that game, as they had Edney back as an honorary captain for the game. At halftime, they interviewed Edney about his experience beating Missouri. Before the game, they had a promo saying that Missouri basketball has nightmares about UCLA losses. While Frank Haith, Phil Pressey, and Laurence Bowers might have nightmares about last night, they sure aren’t having nightmares about Tyus Edney. I’ve never seen a team bring up a game from 17 years ago so much.
Atmosphere – I’ll admit, before the game, I was skeptical about how great the atmosphere of Pauley Pavilion could be. Everyone talks about it being one of the best places to watch a college basketball game, but when I arrived the arena was empty. I was proved wrong very quickly, however. Despite it being winter break, the stadium was packed by the time the game started. UCLA fans knew when to cheer on their team and at what time. The only other game at which I heard a stadium so loud for college basketball was when I went to Mizzou-Kansas last season in Columbia. I can’t even imagine how packed and loud Pauley would be when school is in session and the Bruins are playing a conference rival like USC.
Sit with your Fellow Fans – This is my biggest tip for attending a road game. We bought tickets through the Missouri Alumni Association, which put us in a predominately Mizzou section at the game. Most of the fans I sat with were alumni and this was their one chance to see Mizzou play this season. They were just as passionate as I was and at times were even louder than me. Being in this section gave us Mizzou fans some strength in numbers and we were able to belt out some of the loudest MIZ-ZOU chants I have ever been a part of. The seats might not have been the best, but being with fellow Mizzou fans gave us a common cause and made the game very enjoyable.
The only way my experience at UCLA could have been better would have been if Mizzou won the game. Pauley Pavilion was an amazing place to watch a basketball game and I would recommend going to anyone if they have the chance. Even though Missouri couldn’t get the victory, it was a learning experience for the Tigers and I was happy I could be a part of it.