GAME NOTES: The UNLV Runnin' Rebels hope to continue their dominance over the Utah State Aggies when the two teams meet up for a Mountain West Conference showdown at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night.
UNLV, which has won all but three of the 30 meetings in the all-time series with USU, stunned New Mexico in The Pit last week by a score of 76-73, perhaps the biggest win of the season for the program, but then the Rebels went right back out on Saturday and bowed to nationally-ranked San Diego State on the road, 63-52.
While UNLV put up a decent fight against one of the top teams in the nation and the leading squad in the MWC, the Rebels have still fallen in three of the last four outings overall.
As for the Aggies, they managed to pile up 10 wins through the first 12 outings of the season, many against questionable competition, and now the squad is finally being put to the test. Utah State went from winning a game against Colorado State last week with only 57 points to putting up 74 in a four-point setback to Boise State over the weekend at Taco Bell Arena, which means the Aggies have now alternated wins and losses over the last six games.
While the Rebels have a commanding lead in the series, Utah State has actually won three of the last five battles, the most recent being an 82-69 triumph in 1996. Both teams are currently near the bottom of the MWC standings with records of 2-3.
Jarred Shaw converted 11-of-16 shots from the floor as he finished with a game-high 24 points over the weekend, but even that effort was not enough to keep the Aggies from suffering the loss to Boise State in Idaho. Also scoring in double figures for the visitors were Preston Medlin and Spencer Butterfield with 16 and 10 points, respectively, while Kyle Davis delivered nine points and a team-best eight rebounds.
Suspended five games for a violation of team rules, Shaw has returned to score in double figures in three straight outings, resulting in his team-best 16.3 ppg. He is also second on the unit in rebounding with 7.8 rpg, trailing only Davis (9.6 ppg) who is responsible for 8.6 rpg, but at the moment is dealing with a knee injury that has him listed as questionable for tonight's battle. Medlin (13.7 ppg) and Butterfield (13.6 ppg) are both shooting better than 47.0 percent behind the 3-point line, combining for 82 triples.
After such a monumental win on the road in a building that rarely allows visitors to leave happy, the Rebels turned around and dropped the ball against San Diego State at Viejas Arena. UNLV shot just 24.2 percent from the field in the first half, including 1-of-7 behind the 3-point line, making it almost impossible to battle back in the second half. Roscoe Smith registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Bryce Dejean-Smith and Deville Smith accounted for 15 and 13 points, respectively. However, Dejean- Jones shot only 7-of-25 and Smith a mere 5-of-19, the duo combining to go 0- of-13 beyond the arc as well.
Dejean-Jones, the leading scorer for the Rebels in each of the last six games, is putting up a modest 15.0 ppg at the moment and is first on the unit with 54 assists, although that's still not nearly enough to offset his dismal 24.5 percent shooting beyond the arc. Roscoe Smith, who now has 12 double-doubles on the campaign, checks in with 12.0 ppg and is one of the top rebounders in the country with 12.4 rpg, affording the program a rebounding advantage over the competition of 4.1 rpg.
While it has been years since these teams last faced off, the Aggies are still in a much better position than they were when the relationship began. However, if Roscoe Smith is able to have his way on the glass and both Deville Smith and Dejean-Jones can rebound from an awful showing over the weekend, this is a game that should still favor the hosts.
Game Date and Time