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UCLA vs. Kentucky - 12/3/15 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Kentucky Wildcats (7-0) at UCLA Bruins (4-3)

College Basketball: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 9:00 pm (Pauley Pavilion)

The Line: UCLA Bruins +5.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN

The top ranked Kentucky Wildcats will travel to Pauley Pavilion to take on the UCLA Bruins this Thursday night in College Basketball action.

The top ranked Kentucky Wildcats improved to 7-0 (0-0 SEC) on the season after they were able to defeat Illinois State Redbirds, 75-63, this past Monday. Kentucky found themselves in a battle with Illinois State, but used a strong defensive effort in the 2nd half which they held the Redbirds to just 29% shooting to secure the victory. Kentucky didn’t have the services of their leader Tyler Ulis due to an elbow injury and seems to struggle without him early in the contest. Kentucky shot 43.1% from the field while holding Illinois State to just 35.7% shooting. Leading the way for Kentucky was Marcus Lee who had a double-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks. On the season, the Wildcats have been led by Jamal Murray (15.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.1 apg), Tyler Ulis (13.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.3 apg), and Isaiah Briscoe (12.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.3 apg). Offensively, Kentucky is averaging 79.7 ppg on 49.0% shooting. The Wildcats are shooting just 27.6% from three-point range and have an assist/turnover ratio of 1.03. Defensively, Kentucky is holding their opponents to an average of 62.3 ppg on 38.5% shooting. The Wildcats have a rebound margin of 10.4 and average 6.3 bpg. As for Thursday’s game, Tyler Ulis is listed as questionable although initial reports doesn’t seem optimistic that he’ll be able to play.

UCLA vs. Kentucky - 12/3/15 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-3 (0-0 PAC 12) on the season after defeating the CS Northridge Matadors, 77-45, this past Sunday. The Bruins was able to get up quickly in this one and used a relentless defense to ensure that CS Northridge never made it a game. UCLA shot 42.6% from the field and committed just 7 turnovers in the victory. The Bruins held the Matadors to 29.3% shooting from the field and 9.1% (1-11) shooting from beyond the arc. Leading the way for UCLA was Tony Parker who had a double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks. On the season the Bruins have been led by Bryce Alford (15.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.6 apg), Tony Parker (14.1 ppg, 12.1 rpg), and Aaron Holiday (13.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.0 spg). Offensively, UCLA is averaging 79.1 ppg on 45.3% shooting from the field and 33.0% shooting from beyond the arc. The Bruins are shooting 70.4% from the FT line and have an assist/turnover ratio of 1.08. Defensively, UCLA is allowing their opponents to average 75.1 ppg on 40.6% shooting. The Bruins have a rebound margin of 6.9 and a turnover margin of -2.0.

The Wildcats are 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 road games and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall. The Bruins are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games however, just 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games.

Kentucky is once again loaded with talent however, this team is a much different version of last year’s Wildcats as they are mostly lead by their backcourt and have pushed the tempo early this season. UCLA lost two of their main players from last year’s squad in Kevon Looney and Norman Powell but still returns a lot of talent and should once again be able to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament this season. Kentucky looked a bit loss in their recent victory without Tyler Ulis and although they were able to get it done in the 2nd half on defensive end, it might be more of struggle against a talented offensive team in the Bruins. UCLA has some great scorers in Alford and Holiday and if Kentucky is without Ulis, I believe this one will go down to the wire. I’m going to keep a close eye on status of Ulis, but as I don’t believe he will go, I’m taking ULCA and the points. 

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UCLA Bruins +5.5

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