Rebels face Davidson; Heels and Longhorns tangle in title game
As the Maui Invitational comes to a close, UNLV is still eyeing its first win.
- What: 2020 Maui Invitational — Day 3 (Final Round)
- Where: Harrah’s Cherokee Center, Asheville, N.C.
- How to Watch: ESPN/ESPN2; WatchESPN
- Stream: FuboTV with seven-day free trial
- Radio: TuneIn UNLV
So Texas will get its favorite basketball opponent — UNC — with a chance to win the Maui (Asheville) Invitational tomorrow.
— Burnt Orange Nation (@BON_SBNation) December 1, 2020
DAY 3 SCHEDULE
10:30 a.m. PT — STANFORD vS. INDIANA
Technical foul called on Ziaire Williams on this dunk.
Ted "TV Teddy" Valentine strikes!pic.twitter.com/EwWUF18N4z
— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) December 1, 2020
In Tuesday’s game against North Carolina, the Cardinal held a four-point advantage and momentum was in their favor — that is, until referee Teddy Valentine hit Stanford star Ziaire Williams with a technical foul, ostensibly for unsporting conduct. The call swung momentum back to the Heels and took the air out of the Cardinal’s game. They still had a chance to tie the game at the end, but the shot wouldn’t fall, so Jerod Haase and company will have to settle for a spot in the third-place game against Indiana.
Wait, Indiana MBB scored 44 points today? 44 American basketball points? For the game???
— All I Want For Christmas Is Adam Jacobi (@Adam_J_Tweets) December 2, 2020
After catching eyes with a dominant performance over Providence on Monday, Indiana felt the other foot drop squarely on their neck when they took on Texas. The Longhorns completely smothered the Hoosiers’ offense, holding them to just 44 points. While it is likely that the performance can be chalked up to the quality of Shaka Smart defenses, Archie Miller will find no reprieve in an equally stifling Stanford D. The supporting cast for IU star Trayce Jackson-Davis needs to be more consistent.
Prediction: Stanford 64, Indiana 60
1:00 P.m. PT — no. 14 NORTH CAROLINA vs. No. 17 TEXAS
24 turnovers today for @UNC_Basketball against Stanford.
• Most since March 23, 2012
• 24 turnovers
• St. Louis, MO
• UNC 73, Ohio 65 (OT)
• That was the Sweet 16 game against Ohio that Stilman White started in place of injured Kendall Marshall.
— Isaac Schade (@isaacschade) December 2, 2020
For whatever reason, the Maui Invitational title game will be the second game of the day, somewhat hidden in its weekday afternoon timeslot. Regardless, two of the top teams in the country will be on display in this one. North Carolina survived a scare from Stanford, but they will need to clean things up if they want to take home the trophy. They turned the ball over a staggering 24 times against the Cardinal. This is a roster with a lot of young, very promising players, and they will be able to match Texas’ toughness.
Texas coach Shaka Smart said yesterday he wanted to see better defense after the Davidson win. Today Indiana is having one of those terrible, awful, no-good, very-bad shooting days at 7 for 30 so far. Longhorns up 42-27, 13;48 left. #MauiHoops
— Aaron Beard (@aaronbeardap) December 1, 2020
Though they may not have been favorites prior to the start of the Maui Invitational, the Longhorns’ domineering performance against Indiana stood in stark contrast to the struggles that North Carolina had in putting away Stanford. For that reason, Texas now comes in as slight favorites against North Carolina. While there will be plenty of excitement around each team’s frontcourts, Texas has the more experienced backcourt, with Courtney Ramey in particular making big plays. Expect the Longhorns to prevail in a close one, with their defense being the difference-maker.
Prediction: Texas 74, North Carolina 71
4:00 P.m. PT — ALABAMA VS. PROVIDENCE
— Crimson Crossover (@CrimsonXover) December 2, 2020
After getting stymied by Stanford in the first round, the Crimson Tide offense exploded against UNLV. John Petty dropped in 22 points on six three-pointers, while Jahvon Quinerly added 18. The offensive resurgence should bode well for Alabama as they square off with a Providence defense that has not proven formidable over two games in Asheville. Nate Oats has scoring options galore, and they could have another field day against Providence.
Providence had three in double figures led by Nate's 22. Jared Bynum and David Duke had 14 and 13 respectively. Friars improve to 2-1. See you tomorrow at 7pm! #pcbb
— Friars Voice (@friarsvox) December 2, 2020
Once the main bracket has been completed, the consolation games will commence, starting with Alabama-Providence. The Friars certainly did not want to find themselves in this half of the bracket, they’re lucky to have even made it to this game. Providence lived through multiple game-winning shot attempts from Davidson, but all of them were unsuccessful. The Friars’ 2-for-16 performance from deep cannot be repeated if they want to beat Alabama.
Prediction: Alabama 81, Providence 72
6:30 P.m. PT — UNLV vs. DAVIDSON
— UNLV Men's Basketball (@TheRunninRebels) December 2, 2020
UNLV extended their winless streak to open the 2020-21 season to three games when they lost step with Alabama down the stretch on Tuesday. There were plenty of positives for the team to take away, however, and chief among them was Caleb Grill’s 27-point performance. The Iowa State transfer knocked down seven shots from beyond the arc, a shooting performance desperately needed by the Rebels.
Bryce Hamilton, David Jenkins, and Marvin Coleman were all in double figures as well, but the percentages haven’t been great for anyone. The team’s defense has been equally inconsistent, with the Rebels showing flashes of being able to stop entry and defend the perimeter. However, with so little depth to support big man Cheikh Mbacke Diong, guards are being pulled out of position to help, leaving shooters open.
There are adjustments that need to be made before this team reaches its true potential, but it remains to be seen whether TJ Otzelberger can make those changes before the team leaves Asheville. But for now, the signs of life that UNLV displayed on Tuesday have to be encouraging.
Think Hyunjung Lee could sneakily be one of Davidson’s best players this year. Just saw him go coast-to-coast and finish among the trees; if he can consistently do that and knock down threes, he’ll be a threat
— A10 Talk (@A10Talk) December 2, 2020
Switching to the Rebels opponent, the Wildcats came up just short in their bid to upset Providence yesterday, instead falling to the Friars, 63-62. Like the Rebels, Davidson has lost its first two games in the Maui Invitational; however, unlike UNLV, the Wildcats have come tantalizingly close to upsets in both games. So, these two teams will be vying to stay out of last place in the event.
Head coach Bob McKillop has been at Davidson since 1989, and his wealth of experience has made this program into a perennial success. That should be no different this year, as the Wildcats have plenty of talented players across the court. That starts with veteran leader Kellan Grady, a crafty combo guard who can score in many different ways. Younger players like Hyunjung Lee and Sam Mennenga are also coming along nicely. Junior center Luka Brajkovic is an efficient scorer and rebounder that will prove a difficult matchup for Diong down low.
While Davidson has had the closer games in the first two days of the Maui Invitational, they’ve played opponents who may have had the luxury of overlooking the Wildcats to some degree. They will receive no such neglect from a UNLV team desperate to notch its inaugural entry in the 2020-21 record books. Look for the Rebels to continue to ease into a groove on offense and sneak out of Asheville with that elusive first win.
Prediction: UNLV 77, Davidson 75
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.