UNLV (3-0) vs UCLA (2-1)
When: Monday, November 23rd 2015
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, HI
Time: 11:30 ET | TV: ESPN2
The UCLA Bruins got off to a bit of a slow start this season when they lost their opener at home to Monmouth and barely got by Cal Poly 88-83, but then beat up Pepperdine 81-67. They now travel to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational where they will take on UNLV in the first round Monday night. Bryce Alford leads a team that has four players averaging double-figures in points scored. Alford is averaging 19.7 after his 19 point effort on 9-of-16 shooting against Pepperdine. Senior forward Tony Parker is well on his way to having a fantastic season as he’s averaging well over a double-double a game with 16.7 points and 16.0 rebounds (tops in NCAA) a game. He’s the first UCLA player to open the season with three straight double-doubles since Bill Walton in 1973. The Bruins will need to tighten up their defense if they want to win the Maui. They rank 267th in points allowed with 78.0.
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels played Cal Poly also and only beat them by two points in their opener. The Rebels then cruised against two inferior opponents and now have their first 3-0 start in four years. Patrick McCaw has been strong on both ends of the floor for UNLV, as sophomore guard is averaging 16.7 points through the first three games while playing excellent defense. Las Vegas freshman Stephen Zimmerman has recorded double-doubles in each of the last two games and missed a third by one rebound in the win over Cal Poly and leads the team with eight blocked shots. Another freshman, Derrick Jones, is averaging 13.7 points a game and is leading the team with a 65.2% field goal percentage. UNLV has a very athletic team this year, as they usually do, but they can’t seem to shoot free throws. They are ranked 240th in the nation shooting only 65.2% from the line.
The Bruins are a little more experienced and better coached for tournament play, so I’m going with UCLA tonight in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Pick: UCLA -3.5