UNLV vs. New Mexico: Three Keys For A Rebels Win
The Rebels are looking to continue its great start in league play.
Can UNLV upend New Mexico?
UNLV is off to its best start in conference play since 2006. The team has had to adjust lineups but has seemed to find a starting five that plays well together. The Rebels are starting to gel as a team in part because of the emergence of Joel Ntambwe has a legitimate go-to scorer. Over the past seven games, Ntambwe has scored in double figures in all of them. During conference play he has been even better as the freshman is averaging 24.0 points per game.
Head Coach Marvin Menzies team has been finding success by sticking to their bread and butter offensive rebounding and getting easy shots. UNLV is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country and it getting those second-chance points keeps UNLV in a lot of games.
It is no secret that the Rebels half-court offense is not that good. In their last matchup against Wyoming UNLV struggled in the first half against the Cowboys zone defense. The zone offense has improved since the beginning of the season, but teams who play zone defense can throw UNLV off their game.
New Mexico has switched to a zone defense in the past month. That could spell trouble for the Rebels but here are the keys to a Rebel win.
Get Joel Ntambwe involved early
The 6-9 freshman has been great ever since Shakur Juiston went down with a season-ending knee injury. Ever since moving to the four spot, Ntambwe has been the star of the Runnin Rebel basketball team. He is leading the team in points and rebounding racking up four double-doubles since the Illinois game
His scoring output has been huge for the team. Ntambwe is shooting 40 percent from three for the season. That percentage makes him the best three point shooter on the team. Not only is he the best three-point shooter he is also the best in terms of percentage from the free throw line at 84 percent.
Crash the offensive boards
UNLV is first in the conference in offensive rebounding. The Rebels are top in the nation in offensive rebounding. With UNLV getting those offensive rebounds leads to second-chance points. In their first conference game against Colorado State, UNLV had 20-second chance points.
While New Mexico does have a bit of size with Carlton Bragg and Vance Jackson, UNLV will have the size advantage in the frontcourt. So expect the Rebel duo of Ntambwe and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to both get crash the offensive boards as they have done all season.
Do not fall behind early
New Mexico is coming off of their best win of the season after beating previously unbeaten Nevada. Going into the pit is never an easy task and the team is gonna be riding high looking to capitalize off of one of the best upsets of the college basketball season.
The Lobos have switched to a zone defense and that could be trouble for the Rebels. The best way to play the Rebels would be to dare them to shoot. UNLV is shooting under 30 percent from three this season.
With all the attention that may be focused on Ntambwe the perimeter players will have to work hard to bust the zone. UNLV’s zone offense is pretty simple with a lot of passing along the perimeter looking for a weak spot in the zone if the Rebels can’t make shots they could be susceptible to finding behind early.