Mountain West (26-7, 12-4)
Big Wins: 11/24 Nevada (79-67), 1/15 BYU (70-41), 2/2 New Mexico (79-60)
Bad Losses: 11/27 at UC Santa Barbara (60-63), 1/12 at Air Force (53-65), 2/6 at Utah (73-81)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Sweet Sixteen loss to Oregon
Coach: Lon Kruger (13-10 in 10 NCAA appearances)
Wink Adams, Junior, Guard, 16.6 ppg, 3.0 apg, 1.5 spg
Rene Rougeau, Junior, Guard, 9.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 spg
Curtis Terry, Senior, Guard, 11.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.3 rpg
Corey Bailey, Junior, Forward, 6.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Joe Darger, Junior, Forward, 11.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Mareceo Rutledge, Junior, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Kendall Wallace, Freshman, Guard, 2.3 ppg
Matt Shaw, Sophomore, Forward , 6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Among the flash of Las Vegas, UNLV has gone widely unnoticed with their steady offense. Ranking in the top ten in the nation, the Rebels turn the ball over less than 11 times per game. They also share the ball quite well and rank in the top ten in assist-to-turnover ratio. Wink Adams will run the show and he will dish nearly two assists for every turnover. However, it is wing Curtis Terry who leads the team in assists and his versatility has propelled UNLV into the postseason.
Even the forwards rarely turn the ball over. Matt Shaw has developed into a consistent scorer and rebounder and Corey Bailey has the versatility to stretch the defense and get to the basket or hit the mid-range jumper. The Rebels will force a ton of turnovers, mostly due to the stingy defense of players like Rene Rougeau who acquires over two steals per game. With the turnover numbers greatly in their favor, UNLV will almost always have more shots than their opponent.
Why They Can Disappoint:
And UNLV needs all the shots they can get because most of them do not go in the basket. The team loves the three-ball and hits almost eight per game, but they only shoot 33.1 percent from behind the arc. Normally that is horrible number, and it certainly is not good in this case, but Coach Lon Kruger’s squad can make up for it with their extra possessions. However, UNLV will give up some extra possessions of their own on second chance points. The team will consistently get outrebounded. The wings have good size and will help on the glass, but the big guys are not that big. Shooting guard Rougeau is 6-6 and leads the team in rebounds. Baiely is only 6-5 and Shaw, at 6-8, is the tallest player on the team who sees any significant playing time and he will usually come in off the bench.
Who To Watch:
That leaves it up to 6-7 forward Joe Darger to do all he can to at least help neutralize the rebounding margin. Darger grabs about five boards per game, but it would be very beneficial if the junior could consistently grab eight or nine rebounds. Yet, that is not what Darger does. On other teams he would be a wing, but that is not the case at UNLV. Darger is a scorer first and foremost. He is the most consistent and prolific shooter on the team from beyond the arc and will be a mismatch against most defenders. Usually a much bigger, slower player will defend Darger and he can use his three-point shooting ability to make most defenders who are used to hanging out in the paint very uncomfortable on the perimeter.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.2 (144th nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.3 (43, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.4 (239, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.5 (40, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (74, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.1 (240, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.3 (31, 2)
Rebound Margin: -2.2 (256, 7)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (52, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.9 (6, 1)
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