Wyoming (15-2) at UNLV (15-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 24, 9:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Wyoming 10-1, UNLV 11-1. Away Record: Wyoming 5-1, UNLV 4-3. Neutral Record: Wyoming 0-0, UNLV 0-0. Conference Record: Wyoming 2-2, UNLV 2-2. Series Record: UNLV leads, 30-15.
GAME NOTES: A couple of standout squads in the Mountain West Conference get together in Sin City on Thursday night, as the UNLV Runnin' Rebels play host to the Wyoming Cowboys.
UNLV had been included in the Top-25 for much of the early portion of the season, but has since failed to earn enough votes for such recognition. Last, Saturday the team dropped to 2-2 in conference play with a 66-61 setback versus Colorado State on the road, snapping a brief two-game win streak which had begun after the team's first MWC defeat versus New Mexico.
As for the Cowboys, they were one of the hottest teams out of the chute, winning 13 consecutive outings before finally bowing to Boise State earlier this month on a last-second 3-pointer. Last weekend, Wyoming beat up on San Diego State, 58-45, in order to move to 2-2 in conference play as well. The victory was the second in the last three games for the Pokes who had bowed to Fresno State unexpectedly last week, 49-36.
In a series that dates back to 1966, the Rebels hold a 30-15 advantage over Wyoming entering this meeting. UNLV has won two in a row and six of the last seven encounters, the latest being a 56-48 during the MWC Tournament last season.
Wyoming, which has been playing in recent weeks without Luke Martinez (14.5 ppg), who has been suspended indefinitely for his role in a bar fight which damaged his hand, shut down the Aztecs in Laramie last weekend. San Diego State, which was ranked 15th in the country at the time, converted a mere 28.8 percent form the floor, including 2-of-18 behind the 3-point line versus a Wyoming defense that has been one of the most aggressive in the country this season. Offensively, it was Leonard Washington who spurred on the Pokes with 14 points and 14 rebounds, adding five steals and a pair of blocked shots along the way, while Larry Nance Jr. had a double-double of his own with 11 points and 12 boards. Derrious Gilmore and Josh Adams added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Washington is now the top active scorer for Wyoming with his 14.4 ppg, and he is also the leader on the glass with better than nine boards per contest. Wyoming is scoring just 64.9 ppg right now, but compared to the mere 53.8 ppg allowed by the program, that number is easily enough to add tallies to the win column.
The return of Mike Moser should have given the Runnin' Rebels a huge boost, but against Colorado State he was almost a non-factor as he scored a mere two points and cleared five rebounds in 22 minutes of action. With Moser now another option in the paint, his presence also had an effect on Anthony Bennett who was credited with just nine points and six boards as he dealt with foul issues. Instead of the front line, it was the backcourt for the Rebels that kept them competitive as Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt responded with 21 and 11 points, respectively. Moser, who was a double-double machine last season, has turned in only four such performances this year and since his return, Bennett has seemingly taken a back seat. Moser has played the last four games for UNLV and during that stretch Bennett has been held to 12 points or less three times. The star forward is still leading the team in both scoring (18.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg) through 19 games, but now it is a matter of trying to mesh with Moser once again.
The Cowboys could have their hands full in the paint if both Moser and Bennett are ready to play harder together, but still the defense of Wyoming will determine the survivor of this meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 65, UNLV 62
01/24 10:31:49 ET