UCLA (6-3) at Gonzaga (6-2)
When: Saturday, December 12th 2015
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA
Time: 10:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
The unranked UCLA Bruins will try to win their fourth game in a row and second over a ranked team this season when they visit the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday night. UCLA shocked the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats 87-77 on December 3rd behind Thomas Welsh’s 21 points and career-high 11 rebounds. The Bruins haven’t played since Sunday when they defeated Long Beach State 83-76. UCLA dropped two of three in the Maui Invitational last month defeating UNLV in the opener then losing to Kansas and Wake Forest. All five starters are averaging in double figures, led by junior guard Bryce Alford’s 16.2 and forward Tony Parker’s 14.0. Parker also leads the Pac-12 in rebounding at 10.9 per game. Welsh is averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds. Junior guard Isaac Hamilton (13.2) and freshman guard Aaron Holiday (11.7) are also in double digits. The Bruins tough non-conference slate will continue next Saturday with a date with current number 3 North Carolina.
The Bulldogs have only lost 10 games in 12 seasons at the McCarthey Athletic Center, but almost dropped two in a row last week when they lost to Arizona 68-63 and just beat Montana 61-58 on Tuesday. Senior forward Kyle Wiltjer, who is averaging 20.6 points per game, came up big when these two teams met in Los Angeles last season. Wiltjer poured in 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting in an 87-74 win. Senior center Przemek Karnowski, who is averaging 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, will miss his fourth straight contest due to a back injury and there isn’t yet a timetable for his return. Domantas Sabonis is averaging 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds and has posted three consecutive double-digit outings on the boards during Karnowski’s absence. The Bulldogs need improved guard play after losing two key seniors last season in Bell and Pangos. Gonzaga’s three-point percentage is way down this year to 35.4% – ranking 132nd in the nation.
Gonzaga is not as dominant this year and without Przemek, they’re struggling against tough opponents. UCLA already has a huge win this season and are looking for revenge after being eliminated by Gonzaga in last year’s NCAA Tournament. I’ll take the points.
Pick: UCLA +7.5