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Preview of UCLA Basketballl Games in Las Vegas

UCLA plays two more turkeys on Thursday against Nevada (4:30 ESPN 3) and Northwestern (8:30 ESPN 2)

Norman Powell and Tony Parker will be the players to watch in UCLA next two games.
Norman Powell and Tony Parker will be the players to watch in UCLA next two games.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA's schedule set up by Athletic Director Dan Guerrero could not get any easier, could it?  Probably not but it is not going to get much tougher.  At least the next two games are neutral site games.  After that, well . . .

The next team auditioning to be the Washington Generals to Powell and LaVine's Globetrotter dunk show is Nevada.  Now let me say right off the top Nevada has one player that could actually play some minutes for UCLA in Deonte Burton.  From the official "Wolf Pack Layups":

Nevada scored a season-low 58 points in its last game losing 63-58 to Morehead State.  The 17 field goals and 34 percent shooting from the field are also season lows.  The Pack committed a season-high 16 turnovers and allowed a season-high 39 rebounds to the Eagles.

Deonte Burton tied his career-high with 31 points at USF.  Burton's 20 field attempted was a career best while the 11 made field goals and four 3-pointers made tied his career highs.

Burton became the seventh player in school history to score 1,600 career points reaching the mark in the Morehead State game.  He currently has 1,606 points which ranks seventh in school history.  The four-year starter is 36 points from tying Pete Padget (1972-76) for sixth.

Burton scored 20 or more points in the first five games of the season before finishing with 19 versus Morehead State.  Five times he posted game highs; 23 vs. Pacific, 22 at Cal Poly, 24 at CSU Bakersfield, 28 vs. Chattanooga and 19 vs. Morehead State.  The only game in which he was not the high scorer was at USF when he tied his career-high with 31 points.

You know it is a bad time at the school press shop when you are bragging about your star point guard's "career best" in shot attempts.  Shot attempts are not exactly the stat to brag about, especially for a point guard.  Detone is a 6'1" guard who is shooting the best of his career so far and averaging 24.5 points.  He beat the Mocs (yes the same team UCLA just destroyed) on a last second bank three pointer.  For good reason Detone is a shoot first point guard.

Burton will legitimately be a good test of Norman Powell the defender and UCLA's zone.

There is one other matchup on the other side that could be intriguing.  6'8" guard Jerry Evans, Jr.  Evans is the team's leading rebounder and perimeter defensive specialist.  Who will he match up against, Jordan Adams or Kyle Anderson.  The latter is intriguing if the Wolfpack go that route as it will be the rare time a "guard" of the same height covers Kyle.

The starting Center is 6'9" Ali Fall.  Fall like Evans and Burton is a senior.  The similarities end there.  Ali is just a big body to take up space and foul.  He does the latter well as he has fouled out of three of Nevada's six games.   Fall stays in the paint.

Next up is the four, sophomore Cole Huff who is long at 6'8" and leads the Wolf Pack in blocks.  He can shoot from three.

The last starter is Michael Perez.  Perez is the three point gunner who actually shoots better from 3 than 2 for most of his career.

The bench is Junior big body Ronnie Stevens (who could not beat out Ali) and Marques Coleman is the main backup guard.  Coleman does not like to shoot from 3.  6'6" Freshman DJ Fenner is the backup wing.

Everyone's favorite name this year Chad Posthumas had 16 rebounds against them in the Morehead States victory.  This game should not be tough.

I guess what to watch is can Tony Parker eat up a big body?  If it happens, how will Kyle deal with a big guard defending him?  Most importantly, how will UCLA defend a small quick guard in Deonte Burton?

2.  Northwestern Friday

Finally a BCS school.  Real competition!  Not really.  Stanford beat them by 13.  Northwestern lost to Illinois State which got beat by UCLA's first win, Drexel.  Northwestern wins have come over teams with a combined record of 8-15.

Northwestern is led by 5th year senior Drew Crawford and coached by former Coach K assistant and Doug Collins son Chris Collins.  Crawford

THE `CATS, even in this time of change, will again lean heavily on Crawford, the fifth-year who underwent shoulder surgery last December. "He'll be the key anchor that gets us going here this year," said Collins. "I really want him to have a great year. I know he's worked hard. He's gotten through a really tough injury. We're going to put him in position to be a key guy and hopefully he'll have a great year for us. If he stays healthy and can do what he can do, I think he'll have a chance to vie for all-conference honors this year."

Crawford is a shooter and has shot as high as 41% from three for a season.  He is also the team's leading rebounder.  This is Crawford's team.

Like Crawford, second leading scorer Jershon Cobb has had injury issues in his career.  Cobb led the Cats in scoring against Stanford on a good night for him from three.  Cobb is third on the team in rebounds but only shoots 42% from the field.

Of course the Cats point guard Dave Sobolewski would be happy with 42% as he has not shot over 40% at anytime in his career.  Most of his shots come from three where he is currently shooting under 30%.

The starting four is undersized 6'6" Sunjay Lumpkin.  Lumpkin is the second leading rebounder who does not like to shoot much which is good for the Bruins as he shooting 67% so far this season.  Lumpkin has also fouled out of two games.

The Center is 7 foot Alex Olah of Romania.  Olah had a career game last time out against Gardner-Webb with 18 points on 8-11 shooting but that was more likely an aberration against bad competition.  Last season he shot 41% from the field.

The only bench player worth mention is Tre Demps.  The 6'2" Demps comes into shoot and has had some decent games.

Reality is, I find it hard to write this, none of the bigs are as good as Chad Posthumus.  Tony Parker should get some good practice against people taller than him and Kyle may again be matched up with a semi-athletic tall guard.  Actually if you watch Kyle and Jordan Adams closely they are really trying to help Tony.  Look for them to pass to Tony a lot.

However, the help of Kyle and Jordan may not matter for Tony's minutes.  Actually the real player to watch may be Wannah Bail.  Personally I think people are expecting too much of a freshman who has hardly played basketball.  However, if Wannah can play defense and rebound (this may be the most important), UCLA can certainly sacrifice the offense.

Go Bruins!