Mountain West Rivals Collide: BYU at UNLV

BYU Cougars at UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 10:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS College Sports
Opening Line: UNLV -3
Current Line: UNLV -4
Opening Total: 143
Current Total: 147 1/2
Money Line: UNLV -185 / BYU +165

Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars are a 4 point road underdog at UNLV in the Mountain West opener for both teams.

The BYU Cougars are 14-1 on the season and ranked #14 in the country. UNLV is 12-2 and ranked #25. This is the conference opener for both teams. BYU has a loss at UCLA earlier in the season. The Cougars have wins over Utah St, South Florida, St. Mary’s (CA), Creighton, Arizona and UTEP. UNLV has losses to Louisville and UC-Santa Barbara on the season. They have wins over Tulsa, Murray St, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and Kansas St on the season. These two rivals are evenly matched, but BYU  hasn’t had much luck in Vegas recently. BYU hasn’t won at the Thomas and Mack Center since 2005, including the conference tournament which is usually held in Las Vegas. UNLV won both meetings at the T&M  including a 70-66 victory in the conference tournament last year. Four of the last five games have over the total in the series. UNLV is 35-5 in regular season conference home games since the 2005-06 season. BYU is 20-8 ATS in all road games the last three seasons.

BYU is led by All-American candidate Jimmer Fredette. He leads the Cougars in scoring with 24.1 points, & assists with 4.4 a game, and he also averages 1.4 steals a game. Fredette is a deadly accurate shooter who makes 47.5% of his field goals and 37.5% of his 3-pointers. He makes almost 90% from the free throw line. Jackson Emery scores 11.8 points and leads the team in steals with 2.9 a game. Brandon Davies averages 10.9 points, and 5.2 rebounds a game. Noah Hartsock leads the team in blocks with 1.8 a game and also averages 5.3 rebounds and 9.9 points a game. Chris Collinsworth (no relation to the former NFL receiver and current NBC commentator) leads the team in rebounds with 5.6 a game. BYU is outscoring opponents 84-65 on the year. The Cougars are shooting 45.9% from the field and 34.9% from 3-point range. BYU is holding opponents to 39.9% shooting from the field. The Cougars make 71.7% of their free throws. They average 41.2 rebounds and have a rebounding margin of +5.4. They average 15.6 assists and 11.1 turnovers a game. They force 15.9 turnovers a game on defense. BYU averages 8.6 steals and 4.1 blocks a game.

UNLV doesn’t have a true superstar like Fredette but have a very deep and talented team. They are led in scoring by Junior guard/ forward  Chace Stanback. He averages 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals a game. Junior point guard Oscar Bellfield averages 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists to lead the team, and 1.1 steals a game. Bellfield is shooting 50.9% from 3-point range. Senior guard Tre’Von Willis is averaging 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.4 steals a game off the bench. Willis and Stanback are tied for the team lead in steals. Derrick Jasper leads the team in rebounding with 5.5 a game. Carlos Lopez leads the team in blocks with 1.1 a game. UNLV is outscoring opponents 75-60 on the season. The Rebels shoot 48.9% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. UNLV holds opponents to 38% from the field. The Rebels make 67% from the free throw line. The Rebels average 34.6 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +0.6. The Rebels average 15.7 assists and 13.7 turnovers a game. They force 18.8 turnovers a game on defense. The Rebels average 4.1 blocks and 9.3 steals a game.

UNLV is very good defensively but sometimes goes into offensive lulls. They force a lot of turnovers and harass the ball handler into making mistakes. I don’t think they keep Fredette from getting his points, but if they can contain everyone else, UNLV has an excellent chance to win.

Our college basketball handicappers are off to a  fine start in 2011. Don’t miss out on any more winners this year.

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