MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT – QUARTERFINAL
UNLV men’s basketball to face No. RV/25 San Diego State Thursday at 6 p.m. at Thomas & Mack Center
The UNLV men’s basketball team defeated No. 10 seed Nevada, Reno, 67-46, on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the 2015 Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship and has moved on to the quarterfinals where it will face No. 2 seed San Diego State on Thursday, March 12 at 6 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It will be the third of four quarterfinal matchups held that day. The Aztecs received a bye to the quarterfinals by finishing in the top six during MW conference play. The Runnin’ Rebels are the No. 7 seed.
Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup between UNLV and SDSU features the two schools with the best all-time MW Tournament records. The Runnin’ Rebels are 25-11 all-time in this league’s tournament, while the Aztecs are 21-11.
San Diego State tied for the regular-season MW title, but is the No. 2 seed because it was swept during the regular season by Boise State, which is the tournament’s top seed.
The Aztecs swept the regular-season series this year with the Runnin’ Rebels, winning 53-47 in San Diego on Jan. 17, and 60-58 in Las Vegas on March 4.
The Runnin’ Rebels are 2-6 against the Aztecs all-time in MW Tournament play, dropping each of the last five meetings, including last season in the semifinals, 59-51. UNLV is 2-1 all-time against SDSU in the tournament’s quarterfinals. The Runnin’ Rebels lead the all-time overall series with San Diego State, 35-26, but have lost five straight to the Aztecs and 11 of the last 14.
UNLV is 13-1 all-time in the quarterfinals of the MW Tournament, with its only loss coming in 2009 to San Diego State. This year marks the 13th time that the MW Tournament has been held in Las Vegas (2000-03, 2007-15). UNLV has won the title on three occasions (2000, 2007, 2008). The Runnin’ Rebels have advanced to eight MW Tournament championship games (seven in Las Vegas and one in Denver), the last time in 2013 when they lost to New Mexico.
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 returned and started against UNR on Wednesday, while Vaughn and Walker were still out. Junior guard Daquan Cook (knee) has been out all season.
UNLV is 4-4 since Vaughn, the Runnin’ Rebels’ leading scorer, went down to injury. Overall, the Runnin’ Rebels have won eight of their last 13 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 was 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 15.6 ppg (5th in MW), a team-high 10.0 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 per game with 2.9 (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 3.6, which leads the conference and is fourth nationally. McCaw was 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 (218), 13th in defensive rebounds per game (26.5) and 37th in field-goal percentage defensive (39.4).
Thursday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network with Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas calling the action, while Evan Washburn will report from the sideline. 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 are available at UNLVRebels.com.
GAME #33 – MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL
No. RV/25 San Diego State (24-7, 14-4 Mountain West, No. 2 Seed)
UNLV (18-14, 8-10 Mountain West, No. 7 Seed)
DATE: Thursday, March 12, 2015
TIME: 6 p.m.
SITE: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500), Las Vegas
TV: CBS Sports Network (Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, sideline: Evan Washburn)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1100 AM/100.9 FM (Jon Sandler, Robert Smith)
AUDIO: UNLV Gameday App & UNLVRebels.com