Gun import Jerome Randle has led the Adelaide 36ers to a nail-biting first win of the NBL season, defeating Melbourne United 87-79 in Melbourne.

Randle nabbed 30 points and gathered five assists in an enthralling duel with United playmaker Cedric Jackson.

The 36ers led by 15 points at the final break and looked to have the game wrapped up but Melbourne fought back and with less than two minutes remaining on the clock, forward Todd Blanchfield drained a clutch three-pointer to bring the lead back to four points.

But United couldn't capitalise and the calm hand of captain Mitch Creek guided the 36ers to an eight-point win.

There was little separating the two sides in a fast-paced opening half, with Randle and big-man Matt Hodgson working the pick-and-roll to good effect.

With United's 206cm starting forward Majok Majok benched after picking up early fouls, 36ers big men Daniel Johnson and Hodgson gained the advantage on the boards.

Johnson had 17 points to go with his seven rebounds, while centre Eric Jacobsen chipped in 11 points.

But it was Randle who proved the difference, the 175cm point guard scoring 18 of his 30 points in an outstanding first half.

The NBL's leading scorer last season, Randle's explosive speed and supreme ball- handling ability allowed him to drive to the basket time and again.

Randle went bucket for bucket with Jackson in the final term but was benched in the closing minutes after picking up his fifth foul.

Jackson drained 15 points and gathered seven assists for Melbourne, while star shooting guard Chris Goulding managed just 10 points on 3-15 shooting.