Rebels look for first win; No. 14 UNC, No. 17 Texas also in action
The Maui Invitational continues on Tuesday with Round 2 games.
- What: 2020 Maui Invitational
- Where: Harrah’s Cherokee Center, Asheville, N.C.
- How to Watch: ESPN/ESPN2; WatchESPN
- Stream: FuboTV with seven-day free trial
DAY 2 SCHEDULE
10:30 a.m. PT — no. 17 texas vs. indiana
Courtney Ramey has been making big plays his entire Texas career. Big time drive and bucket here. pic.twitter.com/eEc2mtMtmp
— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) November 30, 2020
The No. 17-ranked Longhorns had considerable trouble putting away A-10 foes Davidson in the opening round, but escaped with a 78-76 victory over the Wildcats thanks to a Courtney Ramey game-winner in the closing seconds. Ramey paced Shaka Smart’s squad with 14 points.
Race Thompson scored 22 points to help lead @IndianaMBB to a 79-58 win over Providence.
Highlights from the Maui Invitational win: pic.twitter.com/NbVdrXl7mB
— Indiana On BTN (@IndianaOnBTN) November 30, 2020
The Hoosiers, on the other hand, felt nearly no resistance from a Providence team that had looked good entering the contest. Indiana looked that much better on Monday, cooking up the Friars to the tune of a 79-58 win behind 22 points and 13 rebounds from Race Thompson.
Prediction: Indiana 68, No. 17 Texas 64
1:00 p.m. PT — no. 14 north carolina vs. stanford
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) December 1, 2020
For the first few minutes of the opening round, the Tar Heels looked completely out of sorts against UNLV, going down 13-0 early. Any questions about the team were answered by the final 25 minutes of the game, where UNC went on run after run to put away the cold-shooting Rebels. Caleb Love led the team with 14 points.
That boy Z Will can flat out hoop! Good start tonight nephew @therealZiaire! Beautiful display of ball
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 1, 2020
Jerod Haase’s team may have made the biggest statement of all on Day 1, roundly beating a very talented Alabama roster by 18 points, 82-64. Top 10 recruit Ziaire Williams was on full display, scoring 19 points, while Oscar da Silva, Daejon Davis, and Bryce Wills were also in double figures — but Stanford’s defense might be the real story.
Prediction: No. 14 North Carolina 69, Stanford 66
4:00 p.m. PT — providence vs. davidson
Friars led by both Nate Watson and David Duke with 12 points but they were 4-11 and 3-12 from the field respectively. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity however. See you at 7pm! #pcbb
— Friars Voice (@friarsvox) November 30, 2020
It’s difficult to explain exactly what happened to the Friars on Monday — perhaps they just played a better team — but they’ll need to turn it around quickly against a Davidson team that nearly upset Texas. Providence’s star trio of Nate Watson, David Duke, and AJ Reeves must improve on a combined 10-for-31 (32%) shooting day.
He missed the potential game-winning shot, but Davidson's got a player in redshirt freshman Sam Mennenga. 6-foot-9 New Zealand native, had 17 points and five boards, hit two 3-pointers. Had 12 and nine in the opener last week too.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) November 30, 2020
After a somewhat disappointing 2019-20 campaign, preseason expectations for Davidson were understandably tamed this time around. However, with young players like Sam Mennenga and Hyunjung Lee coming on quickly alongside veterans Kellan Grady and Luka Brajkovic, the Wildcats have already shown that they will be a tough opponent.
Prediction: Providence 76, Davidson 71
6:30 p.m. PT — unlv vs. alabama
Alabama 3-point shooting so far:
Jahvon Quinerly: 3-of-8
Jaden Shackelford: 3-for-9
John Petty: 3-for-12
Herb Jones: 1-for-2
Darius Miles: 1-for-4
James Rojas: 1-for-4
Jordan Bruner: 1-for-6
Alex Reese: 1-for-8
Juwan Gary: 0-for-1
Keon Ellis: 0-for-2
Josh Primo: 0-for-3
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) December 1, 2020
Alabama came out flat in their first-round matchup with Stanford, shooting just over 35% from the field and under 25% from deep. Those numbers are unlikely to stay so low against UNLV, though, as this was a team that finished in the Top 100 last year in both two- and three-point shooting. The Rebels, then may find themselves the unfortunate recipients of Alabama’s resurgence. Through two games, UNLV is allowing opponents to shoot nearly 45% from beyond the arc, a number that simply can’t continue if the team expects to stay in ballgames.
UNLV is now 0-2 after another frustrating day at the office against UNC.
Bryce Hamilton continues to score in bunches, but this team is struggling through a collective cold spell that has rendered it an utterly fangless foe.
— Andy Dieckhoff (@andrewdieckhoff) December 1, 2020
For UNLV, problems with three-point defense may seem secondary when compared with their own offensive struggles from downtown. The team has managed to stay just north of 30% shooting through two games, but for a roster and offense built around small-ball offense with lots of shooters, that clip simply isn’t good enough.
Further to the issues of roster construction, there currently aren’t enough reliable bigs on this team to provide support for Cheikh Mbacke Diong. It was a calculated risk for TJ Otzelberger to build such a free-firing squad without building a bulwark of big men on whom he could rely when the shooters went cold. Those problems may be on display again when the Rebels face Alabama, as the Crimson Tide rank in the Top 50 for average team height, per KenPom. Herbert Jones, in particular, could pose a problem in the paint.
The mission for UNLV is clear: The Rebels need to get their shots to fall, and they need to force Alabama to prove that it can make its own. For the moment, though, there is much more evidence in favor of a win for the Tide than there is for a Rebel victory.
Prediction: Alabama 80, UNLV 69
Here’s hoping Day 2 delivers a more closely-contested slate of games, with some more accurate shooting for UNLV and Alabama, in particular.
Andrew Dieckhoff is a USBWA member writing about college basketball for Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and The DPI Gradebook presented by Heat Check CBB. Andy is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate of Portland State University. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.