Utah State vs. UNLV Preview & Score Prediction
Check out the Utah State vs. UNLV game preview and score prediction
Utah State (9-7, 2-1 MW) vs. UNLV (12-3, 1-1 MW) Game Preview
Date: Saturday, January 6th
Tip-off: 8:00pm MT
Venue: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV.
TV/stream: AT&T Sports Netowrk
Projected Utah State Lineup
G Koby McEwen
G Sam Merrill
G Diogo Brito
F Dwayne Brown Jr.
F Quinn Taylor
Projected Fresno State Lineup
G Kris Clyburn
G Jordan Johnson
G Jovan Mooring
F Brandon McCoy
F Shakur Juiston
Why Utah State Will Win
An OT win does a lot for a young team’s confidence. Storming back from a late 10-point deficit to topple Fresno Wednesday made for one of the best Aggie wins of the post-Stew Morrill era, and gave star sophomore Koby McEwen a chance to prove his place among the Mountain West’s elite guards.
McEwen’s career-high 28 points in 41 minutes demands a repeat performance Saturday, as UNLV leads the conference in both scoring and rebounding. After losing forward Alex Dargenton to a knee injury, the Aggies’ best chance to steal a win on the road comes down to McEwen’s and fellow guard Sam Merrill’s ability to stretch the floor with perimeter shooting and make their way to the foul line early.
Utah State’s average points scored has seen a significant uptick over the last five outings (82.6 per game), due in large part to Merrill and McEwen’s promising trajectory. If Utah State’s dynamic duo can crank up the game’s tempo and get UNLV’s Brandon McCoy into early foul trouble, the Aggies could return home to Cache Valley with one of the MW’s most impressive wins.
Why UNLV Will Win
At 12-3, the Runnin’ Rebels just aren’t accustomed to losing. Escaping an OT scare from 3-10 San Jose State probably took more effort than coach Marvin Menzies was counting on, but the Rebels still managed to emerge victorious — no doubt hungry to return to their otherwise dominant season. Against a physically inferior Utah State team, UNLV will look to thrash the Aggies in the paint from tipoff to final buzzer. Freshman phenom Brandon McCoy is tied for the conference scoring title at the moment averaging 19ppg, while fellow forward Shakur Juiston leads the MW in rebounding with 10.4 per game (McCoy is a hair behind with “just” 10.3).
Even with a now-injured Dargenton contributing 29 minutes of interior defense, Utah State allowed 48 points in the paint to Fresno on Wednesday, exposing a glaring flaw in USU’s roster makeup. UNLV will surely aim to bounce back from its near-loss to San Jose by routinely and relentlessly feeding its big men the ball in the post until USU proves it can stop them — an unlikely scenario, as the Rebels boast an 18-1 all-time record against the Aggies in Las Vegas.