UNLV (15-7) at Colorado State (12-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 5, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moby Arena (8,745) -- Fort Collins, Colorado. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNLV 9-5, CSU 11-4. Away Record: UNLV 4-2, CSU 1-6. Neutral Record: UNLV 2-0, CSU 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 6-3, CSU 3-6. Series Record: UNLV leads, 35-11.
GAME NOTES: UNLV shoots for a a fifth straight win tonight, as the Runnin' Rebels pay a visit to the Colorado State Rams for a Mountain West Conference showdown at Moby Arena.
The Rebels have had their struggles this campaign, but the team seems to be getting it together at just the right time, with barely a month remaining in the regular season. Since losing to nationally-ranked San Diego State on the road Jan. 18, the program has rattled off four straight wins, the latest of which was a 73-69 triumph against Boise State at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday.
In terms of conference play, the Runnin' Rebels are 6-3 and that has the squad sitting in fourth place in the standings heading into play on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Rams have hit the skids in recent weeks, losing three in a row and four of the last five. However, the slump has occurred against top-notch foes in New Mexico, Nevada and, most recently, San Diego State (65-56) on Saturday in California.
UNLV leads the all-time series, 35-11, thanks in part to a 14-7 mark in Fort Collins.
Khem Birch again showed why he should be considered one of the better interior players in the country this season as he not only registered a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds in the win against Boise State at home, he also blocked six shots as well for the Runnin' Rebels. Kevin Olekaibe led the team in scoring with 18 points, doing a good part of damage behind the 3-point line where he was 4-of-7, followed by Bryce Dejean-Jones with 11 points in the victory.
With his 14.2 ppg, Dejean-Jones leads four players in double figures through 22 games for the Runnin' Rebels, although his mere 26.6 percent shooting beyond the arc is still questionable. Birch checks in with 11.4 ppg and 9.5 rpg, while his 83 rejections makes him one of the top shot blockers in the country right now. Not only does UNLV have him in the paint, they also have one of the nation's top rebounders in Roscoe Smith who is pulling down 11.8 rpg and putting up 11.8 ppg.
For the second straight game Jon Octeus produced 20 points for the Rams, shooting 7-of-15 from the field as he tallied 24 points, but the problem was no one else on the roster even contributed double digits as the squad bowed to San Diego State on the road. J.J. Avila came within a point of a double-double as he cleared a game-high 13 rebounds, but the big let-down was Daniel Bejarano who played just three minutes and failed to score.
The second-leading scorer on the season for the Rams, Bejarano (15.7 ppg) went to the bench against SDSU because head coach Larry Eustachy did not care for his body language and wanted to send a message that no one was bigger than the team, no matter how important the game. Avila, one of the other three players to have started every game, checks in with 17.6 ppg and is second behind Bejarano (8.6 rpg) on the glass with 7.9 rpg for a team that is beating opponents by five rebounds per contest.
One has to wonder what the outcome may have been had Bejarano not been taken out of the game. The expectation here is that if Bejarano is back out there tonight his attitude will have been adjusted, but the Rams will need more than that to compete.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 79, Colorado State 70
02/05 10:34:39 ET