Two 3-0 teams will make the long trip to Honolulu as No. 4 Marquette takes on UCLA in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday night.
The Golden Eagles head to the center of the Pacific following their first key test of the season, as they took down No. 23 Illinois 71-64 in Champaign, Ill., last Tuesday.
Reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek shined after being questionable to play due to an ankle injury. The senior guard led the way with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists while making 10 of 18 shots from the field.
“He’s as good of a passer as I’ve seen. He did a nice job getting downhill,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said of Kolek. “He’s able to get angles and finish and he’s as big a reason as anything as to why we kept getting in the paint.”
UCLA has cruised through its first three contests at home, including a 78-58 drubbing of Long Island on Wednesday night.
Adem Bona led the Bruins with a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double. Jan Vide added 12 points while dishing out seven assists, and Aday Mara finished with 14 points.
Despite the 20-point win, UCLA coach Mick Cronin was still concerned about the 14 turnovers committed by the offense.
“To have 14 turnovers is just beyond ridiculous. Beyond careless. You have to eliminate empty trips. … We had too many empty trips offensively,” Cronin said. “Jan Vide comes down in the first half, no passes, drives the lane in traffic and shoots an air ball. You might as well throw it out of bounds so we can go set our defense. I got my work cut out for me.”
The Bruins are in a new era after losing key players in Jaylen Clark, Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr., but they still received 36 votes in the most recent AP Top 25 poll.
Through three games, Kam Jones has led Marquette with 19.3 points per game. Kolek is averaging 14.7 points while dishing out 4.7 assists per contest, while Oso Ighodaro leads with 8.7 rebounds per game.
Bona leads the Bruins with 18.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game down low. Dylan Andrews averages a team-high 3.5 assists per game.
This year’s Maui Invitational includes arguably the best field this tournament has had in its 40-year history. Five teams (Marquette, Gonzaga, Purdue, Kansas and Tennessee) are ranked in the top 11, with UCLA, Syracuse and the host, Chaminade, rounding out the field.
The tournament was moved from its traditional home location on the island of Maui — the Lahaina Civic Center — to the island of O’ahu at SimpliFi Arena as the Civic Center continues to serve as a hub for wildfire recovery efforts.
UCLA won the Maui Invitational back in 2006, and this will be its seventh time competing in the event. The Bruins are 9-9 in the tournament. Marquette will be competing in the tournament for the fourth time, with appearances back in 2007, 2012 and 2017.
The winner of this game will play the winner of No. 1 Kansas vs. Chaminade.
–Field Level Media
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