UNLV (17-4) at Boise State (14-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Taco Bell Arena (12,480) -- Boise, Idaho. Television: TWCSN. Home Record: UNLV 13-1, BSU 8-1. Away Record: UNLV 4-3, BSU 4-5. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, BSU 2-0. Conference Record: UNLV 4-2, BSU 2-4. Series Record: UNLV leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: The Boise State Broncos try to avoid their first three-game slide of the season, as they welcome the UNLV Runnin' Rebels to Taco Bell Arena on Saturday night for a Mountain West Conference battle.
Since starting the 2012-13 campaign with 13 wins in 15 chances, the Broncos have hit a rough patch in their second season in the MWC, losing four of the last five outings. The team was crushed by host Colorado State on Wednesday in a 77-57 final at Moby Arena, dropping BSU to 2-4 in conference play.
As for the Runnin' Rebels, they are headed in the opposite direction with back-to-back league victories and four wins in the last five games to move to 4-2 in the MWC, which is good enough for a four-way tie for second place in the standings with the Rams, San Diego State and Air Force. Against in-state rival and now league foe Nevada on Tuesday night, the Rebels secured a 66-54 win at home in the Thomas & Mack Center.
As far as the all-time series between these teams is concerned, UNLV has won four of the five matchups, sweeping the season series a year ago with a 77-72 overtime victory in this building, and then easing to a 75-58 win at home.
The Runnin' Rebels forced 16 turnovers and won the rebounding battle against Nevada earlier in the week, 44-28, making it that much easier to cruise to the double-digit win at home. Khem Birch, who came off the bench for a chance, tallied 14 points and seven rebounds, followed by Anthony Bennett with 13 points and nine boards of his own. Bryce Dejean-Jones stepped up with another 11 points and eight rebounds, not to mention four assists and a couple of steals. Relegated to a reserve role, Mike Moser shot just 1-of-6 from the floor and finished with three points and seven boards. Seeing Moser come off the bench is unusual, given that he was one of the more dominant performers in the MWC last season, but now he is averaging just 8.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. Bennett has taken over much of the spotlight with 18.1 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but as he showed against Nevada, there is still plenty of room for more to join in the fun.
Boise State fell behind immediately against the Rams a few nights back and was never able to recover, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field in the first half and 37.7 percent for the entire game. Not only that, the Broncos also shot just 3-of-16 behind the 3-point line along the way as well. Mikey Thompson was responsible for 13 points and Anthony Drmic 12, the latter making all five of his chances at the free-throw line but just 3-of-11 from the floor. The team was without Jeff Elorriaga who is dealing with a concussion and is not expected to play again this week. Derrick Marks, who is suffering from flu-like symptoms and made it through just nine minutes against the Rams, is now listed as probable and that's important because he continues to lead the group in scoring with 16.6 ppg and is also first with 69 assists and 42 steals. Anthony Drmic (16.1 ppg) has teamed with Elorriaga (11.4 ppg) to form one of the most potent perimeter duos in the conference, but he'll have to handle much of that on his own for the time being.
With the Rebels finally getting healthy, combined with Boise State having injury issues right now, it doesn't appear as though UNLV should have much trouble in this meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 72, Boise State 58
02/02 10:32:56 ET