San Diego State (18-6) at UNLV (18-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: SDSU 11-1, UNLV 14-1. Away Record: SDSU 4-3, UNLV 4-6. Neutral Record: SDSU 3-2, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: SDSU 6-4, UNLV 5-5. Series Record: UNLV leads, 34-21.
GAME NOTES: Despite neither team being nationally ranked or sitting at the top of the Mountain West Conference standings, the meeting between the UNLV Runnin' Rebels and the San Diego State Aztecs at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night should still be a memorable one.
The Aztecs, who are currently tied with Air Force for third in the MWC, are coming off a 66-60 loss to 24th-ranked Colorado State three nights ago at Moby Arena in Fort Collins. The defeat snapped a brief two-game win streak for an SDSU squad that is just 4-3 on the road overall, 2-3 as a visitor against league foes.
Meanwhile, the Runnin' Rebels have settled in to the middle of the league standings with five wins in 10 chances. Like the Aztecs, UNLV was last in action on Wednesday night taking on Air Force, and was dealt an unexpected 71-56 setback by the Academy at Clune Arena. The defeat was the third in four games for a program which had lost just four times through the first 21 games of the campaign.
San Diego State won the first meeting of the season at home last month by a score of 82-75, as Jamaal Franklin scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down seven rebounds for a squad that turned the ball over just five times in order to survive a dismal 3-of-19 shooting behind the 3-point line. With the decision, the all-time series now numbers 34-21 in favor of the Runnin' Rebels.
One of four players to score in double figures for SDSU in its latest outing, Chase Tapley tallied 16 points, hitting 3-of-4 shots behind the 3-point line, in the loss to Colorado State on the road. Xavier Thames and JJ O'Brien both added 12 points and Jamaal Franklin 11 and seven rebounds, but at the same time he shot just 4-of-13 from the floor while being bothered by the interior defense of the Rams.
Through 23 games, Franklin is now shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and 26.2 percent on the perimeter, yet he is still one of the top point producers in the conference with 17.2 ppg. Franklin is also the leader on the glass for the Aztecs with 9.3 boards per contest and is first with 75 assists and 34 steals, but clearly he needs teammates to step up and take on more responsibility.
The Mike Moser experiment of coming off the bench continues to be a struggling proposition as the former star forward scored just four points and pulled down four rebounds in the loss at Air Force. Then again, the entire roster pretty much had a tough time versus the Falcons as Katin Reinhardt stepped up as the only double-digit scorer in the meeting with 15 points, but at the same time he was charged with five of the unit's 14 turnovers as well.
Anthony Bennett, who scored only eight points and pulled down eight rebounds against the Falcons as UNLV shot a disappointing 5-of-19 from 3-point range and captured just 24 total rebounds, continues to lead the team with 17.8 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but against tough conference competition he has had some rough outings for sure. Anthony Marshall (10.8 ppg) tries to keep the offense moving with his 150 assists in 25 games, but lately that hasn't help matters much.
Even though the Runnin' Rebels have thrived at home again this season, there is clearly something wrong with the squad right now, just enough to allow a team like SDSU to take advantage this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego State 67, UNLV 61
02/16 10:45:42 ET