OAKLAND, Calif. -- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was a nervous freshman playing his first college game away from Pauley Pavilion. John Calipari's crew had yet to discover its chemistry.
Even though Memphis and UCLA met once already this season, it was so long ago there's not much either side can glean from that November game as they prepare to play again tonight with a trip to the Final Four at stake.
''I watched the tape last night," Calipari said yesterday. ''They're way better and we're way better . . . I'll be honest, I did not draw a whole lot from it. But I watched it to say I watched it."
The Tigers (33-3) won that first meeting, 88-80, behind 26 points from Shawne Williams in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT before a big crowd at New York's Madison Square Garden. The 88 points are the most UCLA's defense has allowed this season and Williams's 26 the highest individual performance.
Now, Memphis is the No. 1 seed in the Oakland Regional and UCLA (30-6) is seeded second after advancing with a thrilling 73-71 comeback victory over third-seeded Gonzaga Thursday night. Memphis handily beat upstart Bradley.
''Personally, I really don't try to look back on games too much," UCLA guard Arron Afflalo said of the first meeting with Memphis. ''That's the worst thing to do, to get caught up in the way things went last game. I mean, for one, you can't look back on it and learn from that experience."
UCLA has won 10 straight games, including the triumph Thursday already considered one of the best comebacks in tournament history. Memphis, playing four freshmen and three sophomores regularly, is riding a seven-game winning streak and has 22 victories in its last 23 games.
Coach Ben Howland hopes UCLA can ride its emotional win further, gaining momentum the way the 1995 UCLA championship team did from Tyus Edney's winning, full-court drive and layin against Missouri in the second round of the '95 tournament.
''This gives us the opportunity to feed off this," Howland said. ''That's my expectation, that we're going to feed off this win and it's going to make us better. We're going to need to be better to have a chance to beat Memphis."