MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT – FIRST ROUND
UNLV men’s basketball to face Nevada, Reno on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at Thomas & Mack Center; Will mark first meeting in conference tournament between intrastate rivals, three points in Governor’s Series also on the line
The UNLV men’s basketball team is the No. 7 seed in the 2015 Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship and will play No. 10 seed Nevada, Reno on Wednesday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center. It will be the second of two first-round games held that day with the winner feeding into the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed San Diego State on Thursday, March 12 at 6 p.m.
The Runnin’ Rebels’ game against the Wolf Pack in the conference tournament will mark the first time the two teams have ever met in such a game and the winner will receive three points in the Governor’s Series, presented by NV Energy, which is a head-to-head athletic and academic challenge between UNLV and UNR. The Runnin’ Rebels have split the season series with UNR this year, losing in Las Vegas (64-62 on Jan. 7) and winning in Reno (67-62 on Jan. 27). UNLV, which has won the Governor’s Series each of the first two years of the competition, trails this year’s contest 10.5-7.5.
UNLV won its regular-season finale on Saturday at San José State, 71-58, with just six scholarship players available as freshman guard Patrick McCaw was out with a concussion. UNLV had previously lost freshman guards Rashad Vaughn and Dantley Walker to knee injuries. McCaw is probable to return vs. UNR on Wednesday, while Vaughn and Walker are doubtful. Junior guard Daquan Cook (knee) has been out all season.
UNLV is 3-4 since Vaughn, the Runnin’ Rebels’ leading scorer, went down to injury. Overall, the Runnin’ Rebels have won seven of its last 12 games. Four of those five losses have been by a combined nine points and prior to the loss at Utah State on Feb. 24, UNLV had lost three of its previous four games by a combined seven points. A total of 10 of the Runnin’ Rebels’ 18 Mountain West games this season were decided by an average of 3.1 points per game (two one-point games, four two-point games, three five-point games and a six-point game). In the other eight games, UNLV is 6-2 with an average margin of victory in those six wins of 15.0 ppg and one of those losses was in overtime (at Boise State).
UNLV, which had to replace all five starters from a year ago, used a rotation for most of this season that included five freshmen, one sophomore and two seniors. Vaughn suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee on Feb. 10 vs. Fresno State. He had led the team in scoring with an average of 17.8 ppg, which ranked second in the Mountain West and second in the country among freshmen. Sophomore forward Christian Wood has 18 double-doubles this year, which ranks sixth in the country, and has averages of 15.2 ppg (5th in MW), a team-high 10.1 rpg (2nd in MW, 17th in the country) and 2.8 bpg (2nd in MW, 15th in the country). Freshman forward Goodluck Okonoboh leads the team in blocks with 2.9 per game (1st in MW, 12th in the country and first among all freshmen). Senior guard Cody Doolin leads the squad and MW with 3.9 apg and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.4, which leads the conference and is fourth nationally. McCaw is fifth in the MW in assists per game (3.4) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) during conference-only games.
As a team, the Runnin’ Rebels are third in the nation in blocks per game (6.8), third in total blocks (210), 13th in defensive rebounds per game (26.63) and 37th in field-goal percentage defensive (39.7).
Wednesday’s game will be shown online via the Mountain West Network with Rich Cellini and Marty Fletcher game calling the action. Jon Sandler and Robert Smith will handle the UNLV radio call, which may be heard live on ESPN Radio 1100 AM/100.9 FM in Las Vegas. All internet links along with live stats will be available at UNLVRebels.com.
GAME #32 – MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND
Nevada, Reno (9-21, 5-13 Mountain West, No. 10 Seed)
UNLV (17-14, 8-10 Mountain West, No. 7 Seed)
DATE: Wednesday, March 11, 2015
TIME: 2:30 p.m.
SITE: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500), Las Vegas
TV: Mountain West Network (Rich Cellini, Marty Fletcher)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1100 AM/100.9 FM (Jon Sandler, Robert Smith)
AUDIO: UNLV Gameday App & UNLVRebels.com