Villanova Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023


Villanova vies to halt a three-game losing streak when it takes on UCLA on Saturday night in Philadelphia.

The Wildcats (6-4) most recently dropped a one-point game in overtime, 72-71, on the road against Kansas State.

Despite one stretch when the Wildcats missed 15 straight shots, they still had a chance to win in a difficult atmosphere.

“All these experiences are what you need,” Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune said. “This was a tough one for us. We just gotta come back, get better from this and move on. Still a long season.”

Jordan Longino led five players in double figures with 16 points and TJ Bamba added 15. Tyler Burton had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Eric Dixon contributed 11 points and eight rebounds and Hakim Hart chipped in with 10 points.

Justin Moore played only eight minutes because of a sprained right knee. Moore’s status is unclear heading into this nonconference matchup.

“Obviously, Justin’s our leader,” Neptune said. “He’s been that the whole year. I was really proud of the way our guys rallied and stepped up in his absence.”

UCLA hasn’t played since a narrow 66-65 victory over UC Riverside on Nov. 30.

Dylan Andrews scored 17 points and hit a driving layup with 3.2 seconds remaining to avoid the monumental upset. The Bruins (5-2) played without head coach Mick Cronin, who was sidelined with COVID.

Associate head coach Darren Sarvino stepped in for Cronin, who will be back on the sideline this weekend.

“I thought Darren did a great job of holding it together, did a great job obviously with that last play with Dylan,” Cronin said. “So, you’ve got to take the positives with it because a lot of people lose in those situations.”

Forward Berke Buyuktuncel suffered a left ankle injury against UC Riverside and won’t be available to face the Wildcats, according to Cronin.

Guard Sebastian Mack also struggled through a toe injury though he’s expected to play Saturday.

Will McClendon has been a bright spot having hit 8 of 19 shots from 3-point range. He went 2 of 28 last season.

“Every time that you see the ball go through the hoop, confidence builds,” McClendon said. “So, yeah, my confidence is really high and that’s good as we take this road trip to Villanova for sure.”

–Field Level Media

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