UNLV at Cincinnati: Game Preview, TV, Radio, Live Stream, Odds, More
Bearcats could inch closer to Top 25 with win over UNLV
Rebels embark on three-game road trip, starting with a dangerous Cincy squad
WHO: UNLV (3-5, 0-0 MWC) at Cincinnati (4-2, 0-0 AAC)
WHEN: Saturday, November 30 — 5:00 P.M. MT / 4:00 P.M. PT
WHERE: Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, OH
ALL-TIME RECORD: Cincinnati leads, 6-0
ODDS: Cincinnati -14, per KenPom
PREVIEW: The Rebels finally have a little bit of momentum back after dismantling Jackson State on Tuesday—and they’ll need it for arguably their toughest game of the early season against Cincinnati.
The tilt with the Bearcats is UNLV’s first in a three-game road trip, which also features their MWC opener against Fresno State and a semi-neutral site matchup in Salt Lake City against BYU.
The shooting woes that had plagued the Rebels throughout the first handful of games were nowhere to be found in their 80-57 win over Jackson State. The team shot 57.1% from the field and 45% from downtown. That’s exactly the kind of production UNLV will need to take down Cincinnati.
Junior guard Amauri Hardy leads the team with 18.3 points and 3.5 assists per game, followed by transfers Donnie Tillman (12.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) and Elijah Mitrou-Long (10.9 PPG, 3.9 APG).
And though Hardy led the way again on Tuesday with 20 points, the most important offensive contribution of the night came from junior Chiekh Mbacke Diong. The Senegalese big man tallied 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while also pulling down six of his 13 rebounds on the offensive glass. It was a huge outburst out of a player who has been notably anemic on that end of the floor.
Bryce Hamilton and Nick Blair also pitched in 12 points apiece, which could signal an important development for TJ Otzelberger. This team needs scoring support behind Hardy, Tillman, and Mitrou-Long. If they can get it, they could turn into a top-half team in the Mountain West. Getting transfer sharpshooter Jonah Antonio back in the lineup will help that cause.
But first, they have to take on a talented Cincinnati squad that has been receiving votes for the Top 25.
New head coach John Brannen has seen a few stumbles in his first couple games at the helm for the Bearcats, including an overtime loss at the Paradise Jam on Tuesday against Bowling Green. Cincinnati recovered to claw out an overtime win of their own against Valparaiso the next day.
While the Bearcats have been pretty good defensively, the offense has not held up its end of the bargain. The offseason was full of promise after it was announced that Oakland transfer Jaevin Cumberland would be joining his cousin (and one of the best players in the American), Jarron.
Though the team does have five players averaging double-digits (or very close), including both Cumberlands, the Bearcats have been plagued by turnovers. They committed 58 giveaways in three games at the Paradise Jam, barely eking out a 2-1 record, including their one-point victory over Illinois State in their first game at the event.
UNLV has had its fair share of issues with ball security, too, so expect this game to get a little sloppy.
Junior seven-footer Chris Vogt and senior forward Tre Scott average a combined 23 points and 17 rebounds, presenting a big challenge for the Rebels in the frontcourt. Keith Williams has also been a solid source of offense for the Bearcats.
But with the Bearcats suddenly struggling—and coming off some long travel to and from the Virgin Islands—the Rebels may have a chance to catch Cincinnati on the ropes.
All told, it will be difficult for UNLV to escape with a victory against a Cincinnati team that is probably bound for the NCAA Tournament. If the Rebels can grab a big road win here, it will give them a boost to get through the back half of their non-conference schedule.
Prediction: Cincinnati 74, UNLV 66
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.