UTEP Miners and UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Clash in Vegas

UTEP Miners at UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Thomas & Mack Center – Las Vegas, Nevada
Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 10:00 pm Eastern, TV: The Mtn
Opening Line: UNLV -18
Current Line: UNLV -17 1/2
Opening Total: 136
Current Total: 138
Opening Money Line: UNLV -2300 / UTEP +1400
Current Money Line: UNLV -2300 / UTEP +1400

UNLV hosts UTEP Wednesday night. The Rebels are 17.5 point favorites at home.

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are 9-2 this season with losses at Wichita St and Wisconsin. UNLV is coached by Dave Rice, in his first year with the program. The Rebels were briefly ranked in the top 25 after upsetting then #1 North Carolina Thanksgiving weekend. The Rebels play their first game at the Thomas and Mack Center in nearly a month as they take on the 2-4 UTEP Miners. The Rebels have played several games at the nearby Orleans arena, including the North Carolina upset. UTEP is coached by Tim Floyd, and has home wins over UC-Riverside 52-41 and Sunday against New Mexico St 73-69. The Miners have home losses to Stephen F. Austin and Texas-San Antonio, along with road losses at New Mexico St and Oregon.

UNLV leads the overall series 8-3 against UTEP including 4-1 in Las Vegas. The Rebels have won 6 of the last 7, including 4 straight. The two teams haven’t played since 2008. The series dates back to the 70’s with legendary coaches Don Haskins and Jerry Tarkanian.

UTEP hosted rival New Mexico St Sunday. The two teams played earlier in the season in Las Cruces. The Aggies were 6 point favorites on the college basketball betting line in El Paso after winning the earlier contest 89-73. The Miners took a 45-38 halftime lead. UTEP made a layup with 2:37 to go to take a 68-67 lead. New Mexico St went 0 for 4 on field goals down the stretch and had two critical  turnovers, allowing UTEP to hold on for the upset 73-69 upset. The Miners were 26/52 from the field, including 7/17 from 3 point range. UTEP was 14/27 on free throws. The Miners had 34 rebounds, 21 assists, and 13 turnovers. Guard/forward Gabriel McCulley had 18 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and a block for the Miners. New Mexico St shot 44.7% from the field including 10/21 from 3 point range. The Aggies were 17/32 on free throws. NMSU had 30 rebounds, 15 assists, and 11 turnovers.

UTEP is being outscored 65-59 this season. The Miners shoot 43.7% from the field including 32.2% from 3 point range. UTEP makes 60% of their free throws. The Miners average 32.2 rebounds a game, and have a rebounding margin of  +0.7. UTEP averages 14 assists, 14.8 turnovers, 4.8 steals, and 4.5 blocks a game. UTEP opponents are shooting 44.6% from the field, including 43.7% from 3 point range. UTEP forces 12.8 turnovers a game.

UTEP forward Julian Washburn averages 10.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals a game. McCulley averages 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.5 steals a game. He leads the team in the latter three categories. Michael Perez, John Bohannon, and Jacques Streeter aslos contribute to the scoring. Bohannon and Cedrick Lang are tied for the team lead in blocks with 1.2 a game. Bohannon could miss the UNLV game due to disciplinary reasons.

UNLV made their second trip to the Midwest in less than a week Saturday as they played at then #16 Wisconsin. The Badgers were 9.5 point favorites at home. Wisconsin went on a 13-0 run to take a 31-15 lead in the first half. They were up by as many as 19 points, but the Rebels cut the lead to 36-23 at halftime. The Rebels were never able to get into an offensive rhythm as the Badger’s slow down defense frustrated them. Wisconsin ended up winning 62-51. UNLV was 18/46 from the field, including 5/12 from 3 point range. The Rebels made 10/14 from the free throw line. UNLV had 26 rebounds, 8 assists, and 15 turnovers. Chase Stanback had 16 points and 4 rebounds. Mike Moser had 4 points and 11 rebounds. Wisconsin shot only 37% from the field, including 10/26 from 3 point range. The difference in the game was Badger guard Ben Brust who came off the bench and exploded for 25 points, including 7/7 on three pointers.

UNLV is outscoring opponents 80-67 this season. The Rebels shoot 46.6% from the field, including 35.6% from 3 point range. The Rebels make 71.1% from the free throw line. UNLV averages 39.3 rebounds a game, and has a rebounding margin of +5.8. The Rebels average 18.5 assists, 13.1 turnovers, 4.5 blocks, and 8.4 steals a game. UNLV opponents are shooting 41.9% from the field including 37.5% from 3 point range. The Rebels force 15.5 turnovers a game.

Stanback averages 15.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists a game. Moser averages 14.7 points, 12.4 rebounds to lead the team, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals a game. Point guard Oscar Bellfield averages 11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 4.9 assists a game. Justin Hawkins averages 10.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2.3 steals a game to lead the team.  Anthony Marshall averages 8.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists to lead the team, and 1.4 steals a game. Carlos Lopez leads the Rebels in blocks with 1 a game.

UNLV is 4-4 against the spread this season and the total is also 4-4 this season. UTEP is 3-1 ATS and the total is 2-2 this season. UTEP is 7-1 ATS as a road underdog of 13 points or more, 8-3 against teams with winning records, and overall, 10-4 after a cover, 1-3-1 as a road underdog, and 2-8-1 against Mountain West teams. The Rebels are 6-1 ATS against Conference USA teams, 4-1 after failing to cover, 2-5 as a home favorite of 13 points or more, 3-9 at home, against teams with losing records, and as a home favorite, and 1-5 at home against teams with losing road records.

UTEP is a very young team with 9 freshmen and 3 sophomores. They haven’t faced a team as talented as UNLV and it could get ugly for the Miners. UNLV will be in a foul mood after such a bad performance against Wisconsin. One thing to keep in mind, is UNLV has a brutal travel schedule. It started off two weeks ago with a trip to Wichita, back to Vegas for a game, to Madison, back to Vegas for this game, and then to Chicago for a game against Illinois Saturday. It could take it’s toll, but I still think UNLV should win this game rather handily.

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