SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (4-1)
vs. UCLA BRUINS (5-2)
Wooden Classic - Anaheim, CA
Tip-off: Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET
Line: UCLA -3, Total: 136.5
A young UCLA squad has a chance to land its first quality win for the year when it battles No. 23 San Diego State in Anaheim on Saturday night.
It’s been a tough start to the year for the Bruins, who are not only transitioning to a freshman-heavy lineup but didn’t get their best player, freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad, onto the court until their fourth game. They’re 2-2 SU and just 1-3 ATS since Muhammad joined the team. After losing to Syracuse on an aircraft carrier to open the season, San Diego State has run off four straight wins (covering in both lined games) as the Aztecs stake their claim as one of the country’s best mid-majors.
Can the young Bruins deliver their first big win? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts are a collective 52.3% ATS (81-74-5) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who is 4-1 ATS in the past six days and 61% ATS (17-11) for the season. StatFox Dave is at 54% ATS (32-26) for the season after going 61% ATS (23-15-1) since Nov. 17.
While UCLA will have the biggest name on the court in Muhammad, San Diego State will have arguably the best player on the court in swingman Jamaal Franklin (18.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG). He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well in the early going though, making just 41.5% FG and 20% of his threes. The Aztecs may be without SG Chase Tapley (11.8 PPG) because of a knee injury. Starting in Tapley’s place against USC on Sunday, senior James Rahon (8.4 PPG) had 17 points on 6-of-7 FG, hitting all three of his three-point attempts. The Aztecs have held opponents to 53.2 PPG and 34.7% FG.
UCLA has looked dysfunctional in the early going, especially in losing outright to Cal Poly as 19-point favorites on Sunday. Muhammad (16.0 PPG) has been solid, but not exactly an impact superstar over his first four games. The Bruins are still relying on over-aggressive sixth man Jordan Adams (17.0 PPG) for a lot of their scoring, and highly-regarded fellow freshman G Kyle Anderson (6.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG) has often looked lost on offense. The Bruins’ only consistency has come from the frontcourt, where the Wear twins are having another solid year. Travis is averaging 12.1 PPG on 50% FG and 6.9 RPG, while David, who returned for Wednesday’s win over CS-Northridge after missing the Cal Poly game with a back injury, is averaging 10.0 PPG on 52% FG and 5.7 RPG.
Talented junior C Joshua Smith (5.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG in 13.5 MPG) announced on Wednesday that he was leaving the team. SG Tyler Lamb, one of their top returning players, announced he’d be transferring earlier this season.