Wyoming (14-8) at UNLV (15-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Wyoming 11-2, UNLV 9-5. Away Record: Wyoming 2-6, UNLV 4-3. Neutral Record: Wyoming 1-0, UNLV 2-0. Conference Record: Wyoming 5-4, UNLV 6-4. Series Record: UNLV leads, 32-15.
GAME NOTES: Wyoming is again playing in a hostile environment tonight, as the Cowboys lock up with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in Mountain West Conference action at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Three nights ago, the Cowboys were caught in their second overtime affair in the last four games and the fourth on the season overall, as they bowed to New Mexico in The Pit, 66-61. The loss was the second in the last three outings for a Wyoming group that is now 5-4 in MWC play, a spot behind UNLV (6-4) in the standings.
As for the Runnin' Rebels, they too were in action on Wednesday night, taking on Colorado State in Fort Collins, and they were blown away by the Rams in a lopsided 75-57 final at Moby Arena. The defeat snapped a four-game win streak by UNLV, but still the team is enjoying a three-game win streak at home at least.
The Rebels lead the all-time series by a count of 32-15, winning four straight and eight of the last nine encounters with Wyoming. UNLV has run together 11 consecutive wins at home in the series.
In a game that featured nine ties and a staggering 23 lead changes, the Cowboys fought UNM all the way into overtime on Wednesday, but that wasn't good enough as the Lobos slipped by for the five-point win. Riley Grabau scored a team-best 12 points for the Pokes, hitting 4-of-6 behind the 3-point line, followed by Larry Nance Jr., Charles Hankerson and Nathan Sobey with 10 points apiece. Wyoming was not only crushed on the glass, 43-22, it was also outscored 19-6 at the free-throw line.
One has to wonder how the game would have played out had the Cowboys had Josh Adams in the lineup and not on the bench due to a one-game suspension. Adams is back for this contest, bringing along his 12.1 ppg and team-best 62 assists, but he will still fall in the shadow of Nance who is first on the scoreboard (16.0 ppg) and tops on the glass (8.9 rpg). While Nance handles action in the paint, it is up to Grabau (11.1 ppg) to exploit the Rebels out on the perimeter where he is 48.6 percent accurate.
One of the tougher places to play in the MWC these days, Moby Arena was just that for UNLV as the Rams dominated the meeting with the Rebels a few nights back. Part of the problem for the visitors was that Roscoe Smith, one of the top interior players in the conference, came away with a decent nine rebounds, but just three points on 1-of-5 shooting from both the floor and at the free- throw line. Khem Birch accounted for 15 points and 12 rebounds and Deville Smith 13 points in the setback.
In conference games this season, Bryce Dejean-Jones is the leading scorer with his 15.3 ppg, although he has shot a dismal 21.2 percent (7-of-33) behind the 3-point line. As a group, the Runnin' Rebels are a disappointing 28.7 percent from beyond the arc through 10 tests and it would be even worse if not for Deville Smith and Kevin Olekaibe who have combined for 34 of the unit's 52 conversions.
Not many teams are able to make their way into the Thomas & Mack Center and come out with a positive result, but if the Rebels perform anywhere near as poorly as they did against CSU on the road, Wyoming will certainly have a shot at what would be considered an upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 69, UNLV 65
02/08 10:20:11 ET