Mississippi State (9-2) vs. UNLV (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 23, 10:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,471) -- Las Vegas, Nevada.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: MSU 7-1, UNLV 5-3. Away Record: MSU 0-1, UNLV
1-1. Neutral Record: MSU 1-0, UNLV 1-0. Conference Record: MSU 0-0, UNLV 0-0.
Series Record: UNLV leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs ride a four-game win streak into
the championship bout of the Las Vegas Classic, as they take on the UNLV
Runnin' Rebels at Orleans Arena on Monday night.
The Bulldogs have gone a perfect 3-0 in the first three rounds of the event,
with regional play victories over Florida A&M (78-65) and Florida Gulf Coast
(66-53) last week, and a 71-66 triumph over South Florida on Sunday. The
recent success has pushed them to 9-2 overall. Following the tournament, the
Bulldogs will host Maryland-Eastern Shore on Jan. 2.
UNLV, which is playing in a quasi-home game on Monday considering it is just
minutes from its campus, took down Santa Clara, 92-71, on Sunday to reach this
game. The win was the fourth straight for the Rebels, who will be on the road
against Cal State Fullerton in their next outing.
Back in 1981, Mississippi State paid a visit to UNLV in the first and only
meeting between the two programs. The Rebels defended their homecourt in that
contest, scoring a 75-67 victory.
Gavin Ware turned in a double-double consisting of 10 points and 15 rebounds
as five players scored in double figures for Mississippi State on Sunday. The
Bulldogs turned 18 USF turnovers into 20 points, and also held a slim
advantage on the boards (32-31).
Mississippi State has certainly made it a habit to put forth stingy defensive
efforts this seasons, as it holds the opposition to just 64.3 points per game
and 42.7 percent shooting. The Bulldogs aren't that much better themselves at
the offensive end. netting just over 70 points each time out. Craig Sword (15
ppg) is the go-to scorer for the unit, although he struggled to get to 10
points against USF. Ware (10.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is enjoying a solid season as the
second-scoring option. His effort against the Bulls earned him his fourth
double-double of the campaign, and first since posting three in the first four
UNLV was able to move and shoot the ball much better than Santa Clara in
Sunday's victory. The Rebels sank a sizzling 60.7 percent of their shots from
the floor and assisted on 17 field goals. On the other side, the Broncos were
limited to 39 percent shooting and just eight helpers.
Although Roscoe Smith (12.8 ppg, 13.2 rpg), who leads the Rebels in scoring
overall this season, finished with 15 points on Sunday, it was Deville Smith
who carried them offensively, netting 21 points off the bench. Another such
performance isn't likely as he averages just 5.7 points per game. Along with
Roscoe Smith, Bryce Deheans-Joesn (12.2 ppg) and Khem Birch (11.8 ppg, 9.5
rpg) are the more likely candidates to top the scoring chart. Birch teams with
Roscoe Smith down low to form a productive tandem on the glass as well.
Controlling the boards is just part of the reason the Rebels have been so
stingy on defense, letting up just 63.9 points per game on 38.6 percent
Even though the Bulldogs have the advantage in terms of record, the Rebels
have better interior presence, superior consistency on defense and the benefit
of playing down the road from its normal home. Expect UNLV to keep the Las
Vegas Classic title in town.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 75, Mississippi State 68
12/23 10:33:38 ET
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