UNLV (21-7) at Nevada (12-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lawlor Events Center (11,536) -- Reno, Nevada. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: UNLV 16-1, Nevada 10-5. Away Record: UNLV 5-6, Nevada 2-10. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 8-5, Nevada 3-10. Series Record: UNLV leads, 55-19.
GAME NOTES: Bragging rights in the Silver State are again up for grabs on Saturday afternoon, as the Nevada Wolf Pack entertains the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in Mountain West Conference action at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
Nevada, which used to preside in the Western Athletic Conference, has now joined the Runnin' Rebels in the MWC but the transition has been far from smooth. In action on Wednesday night, the Wolf Pack was crushed by Boise State on the road at Taco Bell Arena, 73-47, the team's fourth straight loss and the seventh in eight games. As a result, Nevada is now only 3-10 in conference play which has the team sitting in eighth place in the standings heading into the weekend.
As for the Runnin' Rebels, a team that was expected to compete for the conference title as well as be playing late into March, they are all alone in third place in the MWC with a record of 8-5 as they trail only New Mexico and Colorado State.
Out of action since a Feb. 23 win versus Wyoming on the road, 65-42, UNLV has won three straight and four of its last five outings overall.
The Runnin' Rebels posted a 66-54 win in the first meeting of the season back in January at the Thomas & Mack Center, which means UNLV now leads the all- time series by a lopsided 55-19 margin.
Against a Wyoming squad that is struggling with injuries this season, the Runnin' Rebels had very little trouble taking the 23-point victory at Arena Auditorium. Khem Birch registered a double-double with 12 points and a game- high 14 rebounds, followed by Bryce Dejean-Jones and Mike Moser with 11 points apiece, followed by Katin Reinhardt with 10. The lopsided final was made all the more surprising after Anthony Bennett left after just four scoreless minutes due to a shoulder injury.
Bennett, who is still listed as questionable with his shoulder pain, has been carrying the program all season long with his 17.0 ppg and 8.4 rpg, although Birch showed that he could take on some added responsibility the last time out. Anthony Marshall is second on the team in scoring with 10.3 ppg, but seems to take just as much pride in setting up teammates with his 165 assists, against only 78 turnovers.
The performance by Nevada earlier this week against the Broncos on the road was absolutely atrocious as the visitors made a total of just 10 field goals, shooting a mere 4-of-18 from the floor in the second half alone. In fact, the Pack came dangerously close to having twice as many turnovers (17) as baskets as Nevada came away with only 21 rebounds, five at the offensive end of the floor. Deonte Burton was the top scorer with 13 points, but he still shot 2- of-9 from the field.
The tandem of Burton (15.7 ppg) and Malik Story (16.1 ppg) continue to be the ones that Nevada looks to for offense, but as they showed against the Broncos they are rarely in sync anymore. The most experienced players on the roster, each with 94 starts in as many appearances, Story gives the team somewhat of a boost on the perimeter with 69 3-pointers, but the unit overall is shooting just 30.5 percent on the outside and 41.6 percent from the field while being outscored by more than three points per outing.
With Story and Burton having trouble getting open shots and giving Nevada some scoring punch, even being at home will not be enough for the Pack to stay close with UNLV this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 77, Nevada 62
03/02 11:12:33 ET