UNLV (17-5) at Fresno State (7-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 6, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Save Mart Center (15,596) -- Fresno, California. Television: TWCSN. Home Record: UNLV 13-1, FSU 4-6. Away Record: UNLV 4-4, FSU 3-7. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 4-3, FSU 1-6. Series Record: UNLV leads, 27-6.
GAME NOTES: The Fresno State Bulldogs try to bring an end to a four-game slide on Wednesday night, as they host the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in a Mountain West Conference clash at the Save Mart Center.
Since starting the 2012-13 campaign with three wins in four tries, the Bulldogs have tasted victory just four times since. The team was most recently in action on Jan. 30 when it fell to Air Force in a 62-50 final on the road. The setback was the sixth in the last seven outings for the Bulldogs and dropped them to just 1-6 in league play, which has them in last place in the MWC standings.
As for the Runnin' Rebels, they too had a strong start to the new season, ripping off 11 wins through the first 12 contests, but the conference slate has not been so kind to them. With a mark of 4-3 in league play as they prepare to complete the first half of the conference schedule, the Rebels find themselves tied with San Diego State for fourth place in the MWC heading into play on Wednesday.
UNLV last took the floor on Saturday against Boise State at Taco Bell Arena and was defeated by the Broncos, 77-72. The loss snapped a brief two-game win streak for the program and saw Mike Moser ejected late in the first half for being assessed a flagrant foul.
The Runnin' Rebels lead the all-time series between the two programs by a count of 27-6, the most recent meeting taking place in Fresno back in 2008 with UNLV posting an 82-76 victory.
Anthony Bennett scored 25 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Runnin' Rebels over the weekend, but still that wasn't enough as the team suffered the conference road loss against Boise State. Anthony Marshall stepped up his efforts with a double-double consisting of 18 points and a game-high 12 assists, but in a relatively close game UNLV hurt itself with just 10-of-17 shooting at the free-throw line and a mere four offensive rebounds. It also didn't help that Moser, who is now coming off the bench, was limited to just three points in nine minutes before being tossed. Moser's slow return from injury makes it clear that this team is going to go only as far as Bennett will carry them, and that's a tall order for the youngster. Nevertheless, Bennett has come alive with 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest this season, shooting 55.0 percent from the floor as he slowly evolves into the go- to guy in the paint.
Against a team that historically has trouble on the glass, the Bulldogs found themselves losing the battle of the boards against Air Force, 35-24, and coming away with just five offensive rebounds, not to mention shooting a dismal 6-of-15 at the free-throw line in Colorado last week. As the starting five struggled for FSU, combining to shoot just 7-of-25 from the field, there was a Kevin Olekaibe sighting off the bench as he erupted for 18 points on 6- of-10 shooting behind the 3-point line. The team's leading scorer from a year ago, Olekaibe has been relegated to the pine and his minutes reduced greatly this season, but he proved that he can still have a good outing from time to time. Also scoring in double figures were Tyler Johnson and Allen Huddleston with 11 points apiece, the latter coming off the bench for a change. On a team that has put far more emphasis into defensive play this season, holding the competition to just 61.0 ppg, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to find that Tyler Johnson is the lone double-digit scorer for the Bulldogs with 11.9 ppg.
Even with Moser being a disappointment so far this season, the Runnin' Rebels still have a number of options to turn to on offense. With Bennett dominating the paint, expect to see the visitors take control of this meeting and grab a much-needed victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 68, Fresno State 55
02/06 10:53:34 ET