The Spartans were upset in the opening round of the invitational by Virginia Tech, but bounced back after the frustrating loss by defeating Georgia yesterday. UCLA was defeated by BYU in its first matchup in Maui, but then cruised to victory over Chaminade with a 26-point win yesterday. Now the Bruins and Spartans will compete for fifth place in the tournament — yay.
UCLA is off to a 5-2 start overall. After winning the first four games of the season, the Bruins dropped two straight against Hofstra and, as mentioned, BYU. Forward/center Jalen Hill leads UCLA with 12.6 points per game and eight rebounds per game. The team has four players averaging double figures in scoring: guard Chris Smith (11.9 ppg), forward Cody Riley (11.1 ppg) and guard Prince Ali (10.7 ppg) all join Hill in that regard.
As we all know, MSU currently stands at 4-2. The team dropped the season opener to Kentucky and then had the disappointing loss to the Hookies. A big win against Seton Hall is the team’s most impressive victory to date. The Spartans are led by point guard Cassius Winston (17.5 ppg, 6.2 apg, 2.2 rpg), Aaron Henry (13.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.o apg) and Xavier Tillman (12 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.5 apg).
These two squads met last season in the Las Vegas Invitational, and Michigan State made quick work of UCLA, winning by a score of 87-67. Cassius Winston had a fantastic game with 19 points (including three triples) and seven assists. Of course, Joshua Langford was a big reason why the Spartans dominated, as he had 14 points and hit three three-point field goals. Obviously, Langford is going to miss today’s game as he continues to heal from a foot injury. Nick Ward also was a huge reason for the success as well, as he put in 16 points and five boards. Ward has moved on to the pros.
It will be interesting to see how this year’s matchup shakes out, but I think MSU is clearly the more talented team for the second year in a row. Still, it’s disappointing to not be playing for the Maui trophy today.
Here is your game thread.