UCLA (8-0) @ UK (7-0) Preview

Matchup: The 11th ranked Bruins head to Rupp Arena Saturday @ 12:30 PM (CBS) for a matchup against the 1st ranked Kentucky Wildcats. This will be the first matchup between these two programs since 12/3/15 when UCLA upset the Wildcats (ranked #1 at the time) 87-77.

By the Numbers: Kentucky will bring back 1 starter from the last time these teams met, that being G Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe led the Wildcats in scoring in that game, scoring 20 points while shooting 70% from the field. Briscoe accounted for 26% of the scoring in the last meeting.

UCLA brings back 4/5 starters from that game, (Welsh, Holiday, Alford, Hamilton). Those 4 accounted for 70% of the scoring back in the December meeting, and as a team shot 53% from the field and 46% from 3PT.

Kentucky has cleared 100 points in 3 straight games, including 115 points against Arizona State on November 28th, while UCLA has yet to have given up more than 87 points; doing so to CS Northridge.

For Kentucky to win… Kentucky, in my opinion, has the best backcourt in all of college basketball. Briscoe, Monk, and Fox are all averaging over 15 points per game, and even this early in the season have moved and distributed the ball well. With that being said,  they will have to control the paint. In the last meeting, Thomas Welsh bullied Kentucky’s big men for 21 PTS, 11 REB, while also collecting 2 blocks. UCLA held Kentucky big men to a combined 16 points in the last meeting. Good news for Wildcat fans, is just like every season.. there is a whole new roster full of talent. Adebayo, and Wenyen Gabriel will most likely see the most minutes for Kentucky big men, who will be responsible for taking over the paint early and often.

For UCLA to win… Plain and simple, get the ball and keep the ball in Lonzo Ball’s hands. Ball is averaging 9.6 assists on the season which happens to be first in D1 college basketball. Scoring isn’t too much of a problem either, scoring at a 14.6/game clip, and close to 5 rebounds. No doubt he’s an all around point guard and seems to undoubtedly give Kentucky a fit. De’Aaron Fox will most likely get the task of keeping Ball off the stat sheet as much as possible.

Isaac Hamilton also needs to get hot, and get hot early. Hamilton is shooting 51% from the field, and 44% from 3PT.. both are career highs.

Who I Like… For Kentucky, scoring leaders Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe.

For UCLA, Lonzo Ball and Isaac Hamilton. This is going to be a game of 5 of the most talented backcourt players in College Basketball.

Prediction… I’m confident. Let’s make the first one, a good one.

Kentucky 76 UCLA 67.

 

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