UNLV (24-8) vs. Colorado State (25-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday March 15, 11:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: UNLV 18-2, CSU 16-1. Away Record: UNLV 6-6, CSU 6-6. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, CSU 3-0. Conference Record: UNLV 10-6, CSU 11-5. Series Record: UNLV leads, 34-11.
GAME NOTES: A spot in the Mountain West Conference Tournament title game is on the line Friday night, as the UNLV Runnin' Rebels go up against the Colorado State Rams in semifinals action at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Even though this is the home floor of the third-seeded Runnin' Rebels, they are not considered the home team at the moment. Nevertheless, UNLV is back for this round of action thanks to a 72-56 rout of Air Force in the quarterfinals on Wednesday afternoon. The Rebels, who last played in the championship game back in 2010, has won it all a total of three times.
The second-seeded Rams, winners of the 2003 tourney title over UNLV by a score of 62-61, defeated newcomer Fresno State in the opening game of this event by a score of 67-61, completing a three-game sweep for CSU over the Bulldogs.
During the regular season these two squads split their two meetings, with each winning at home, which means the all-time series now stands at 34-11 in favor of UNLV. This time around the survivor will be rewarded with a date against either New Mexico or San Diego State in the championship round on Saturday.
The Runnin' Rebels put both Anthony Bennett and Mike Moser along the front line to start the game on Wednesday and it paid off as the former scored a team-best 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor and added seven rebounds, while the latter came up a point shy of a double-double as he cleared 10 rebounds. Bryce Dejean-Jones and Anthony Marshall delivered 12 and 11 points, respectively, as well as a combined nine of the unit's 18 assists.
Bennett has been a man among men this season in spite of his youth, leading UNLV in both scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg), while Marshall accounts for 10.6 ppg and has been one of the most productive passers in the nation with 188 assists over the course of 32 contests. Moser (7.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has been slow to get back after an injury earlier this season, but still UNLV is outscoring the opposition by more than nine points per game.
Before hitting the floor on Wednesday, the Rams found out that they'd be going into battle without Dorian Green who was ailing with an ankle injury. In his place was Jon Octeus who finished with nine points and three assists as he played all 40 minutes. Ahead of him on the scoring list for Colorado State were fellow guard Wes Eikmeier with 18 points, Greg Smith 11 and backup Gerson Santo with 10 points in a mere 11 minutes. Colton Iverson, considered the best center in the league this season, was limited to just seven points and five rebounds as he dealt with foul trouble.
Even though he came up rather light in terms of points versus Fresno State, Iverson remains the leading scorer for the program with his 14.4 ppg, his 60.1 percent shooting from the floor unrivaled. Iverson is also first with 9.6 rpg for the Rams, but not that far behind is Pierce Hornung (8.9 ppg) who is responsible for 9.3 rpg as the team tops the competition by 12.1 rpg on the campaign.
Having both Moser and Bennett hitting the glass from the very start is probably the only way the Runnin' Rebels will be able to keep up with Colorado in that department. As long as UNLV can stay out of foul trouble, a deeper bench should be key in the locals grabbing the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 72, Colorado State 66
03/15 11:16:09 ET