UCLA Bruins vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Pick

No. 12 UCLA Bruins +6 (4-1) 2-3 ATS, 3-2 O/Uat No. 8 Texas Longhorns -6 (5-1) 3-2 ATS, 2-3 O/U Thursday, December 4 Frank Erwin Events Center in Austin, Texas 9:00 p.m. EST
by Wilson of Predictem.com

The storied and historically famous UCLA Bruins make their way into the state of Texas this Thursday for a significant non-conference early season matchup with the Longhorns. But it is the Longhorns who are currently ranked higher in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN top 25 college basketball polls. Both of these teams should be favored to win their respective conference titles and cruise into the tournament in March.

The Bruins bring their typical high-speed attack behind the leadership of senior guard Darren Collison who has been tormenting the Pac-10 and most other teams since he arrived as a young freshman. Collison is lightning quick and can beat most guys off the dribble but he can also shoot the three. He is averaging 15 points per game and 5 assists to lead the Bruins.

UCLA lost three starters from last year’s team but they are never short on talent- hey, it’s UCLA, who doesn’t want to play in the city of Angels? 6’3 freshman guard Jrue Holiday has made an impact for the Bruins with his 11.6 points per game. Holiday feels right at home as he is from North Hollywood, California. The other two players to watch are Josh Ship, also from Los Angeles, who puts up nearly 10 points per game and pulls down 5 boards. Rounding out the middle for the Bruins is center-forward 6’9 Alfred Aboya who grabs 5.2 rebounds and contributes 8.6 points per contest.

Texas is also extremely athletic, and their guards are exceptional players. Guard A.J. Abrams is averaging 15.8 points per game while his partner, Damion James is scoring 14.5 points and pulling down 8 boards! That’s a lot of boards for a guard. Longhorn forward, Gary Johnson is putting up 10.8 points per game and averaging nearly 8 rebounds.

Texas is 3-0 at home this season and looks to make it 4-0 after Thursday night’s game. The Longhorns are averaging 73.2 points per game and allowing 55.5 to their opponents. Their only loss this season was at the Maui Invitational to Notre Dame in a thriller 81-80. All other games this year have been blowouts for the most part, but with the Bruins coming to town you can bet they have concocted a solid game plan- probably something to do with slowing down or at least disrupting Collison and company.

UCLA comes in averaging 72.8 points per game and giving up 57.2. The Bruins only loss so far was to the University of Michigan 55-52, which really stunned most of the college hoops fans as the Wolverines have been down as of late and the Bruins were ranked in the top five going into the contest. Maybe the early loss was a good thing for the team as they seem to have bounced back and appear ready for the challenge versus Texas.

UCLA is an early season 7 to 1 to win the National Championship while Texas, though ranked higher, is at 15 to 1 to win the NCAA’s.

Both of these teams are loaded with talent and can execute well. This game will be a battle of the back-court as there will be four fantastic guards going head to head. Alfred Aboya may be questionable after some negative x-rays, but he should be cleared to play.

Wilson’s Pick: UCLA has a way of going on the road and ruining a nice home game setting. I like the Bruins to steal a close one in Austin.