UNLV vs. Nevada: Game Preview
UNLV has a chance at breaking their Silver State Series losing streak to intrastate rival Nevada on the road.
Can a new look Wolf Pack team keep the streak alive?
WHO: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (11-9, 6-1 Mountain West) At Nevada Wolf Pack (11-8, 4-3 Mountain West)
WHEN: Wednesday, January 22nd—11:00 PM EST/8:00 PM PST
WHERE: Lawlor Events Center, Reno, NV
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: Get a free trial through FuboTV
SERIES RECORD: UNLV leads all-time series 60-29
PREVIEW: There is something about intrastate rivalries that feel just a bit different than others. Being able to walk around your local grocery store and seeing a T-shirt or encountering the occasional coworker’s mug from your rival school at a work place makes those rivalries a bit more personal and local for most. The best rivalries in College Basketball can be found when two teams from the same state meet and usually meet often being a part of the same conference.
There’s plenty of names on the list but some notable examples are Michigan-Michigan State, Cincinnati-Xavier, Indiana-Purdue, Louisville-Kentucky and maybe the most famous of all North Carolina-Duke.
The Silver State Series has the potential to join the names above as must see T.V. around the country. Even though he is gone now, Eric Musselman helped put the Wolf Pack on the national radar in recent years and UNLV will always have name recognition across the country from their championship runs in the early nineties. But with new faces at the helms in both Reno and Las Vegas, the rivalry seems as up for the taking as ever and each team is looking to establish dominance for years to come with a win tonight.
- UNLV leads the all-time series 60-29
- While Nevada has won the last four meetings (all under Eric Musselman)
The Runnin’ Rebels are 6-1 in Mountain West play and currently sit behind the Aztecs in sole possession of second place. Tj Otzelberger’s squad has adjusted well after the holiday break, riding a three game winning streak while winning seven of their last eight games by an average of 13.8 PPG. This UNLV team looks a lot different than the one who took the court early on and multiple individuals are stepping up to create a much more well rounded attack.
UNLV has four players averaging double figures at this point but it has been sophomore Bryce Hamilton who has brought balance to the Runnin’ Rebel offense, averaging 20.7 PPG in seven conference games so far and getting hotter by the day with a recent 35 point performance against New Mexico at home on Saturday. He isn’t the only sophomore making noise in the new year though as Marvin Coleman posted UNLV’s first triple-double of the century on Saturday night against the Lobos earning his first player of the week honors from the conference in the process.
Their emergence has been key for UNLV thus far and make this team that much more dangerous going on the road in Reno this evening. Things will be interesting, and it’s not just the young guns having an impact either don’t forget about leading scorer Amauri Hardy or leading rebounder Cheikh Mbacke Diong who should look to take advantage of a very young Nevada frontcourt.
Now, while the Runnin’ Rebels have the winning streak, the Wolf Pack have the home court tonight, in which they are 28-2 in their last 30 conference home games. Like UNLV Nevada has also proved some naysayers wrong this season, you know those who said a fourth place finish was too high considering a coaching change and lack of experience (check out my first article ever saying just that here). To be fair it has been upperclassman doing most of the heavy lifting this season, guys like Jalen Harris, Jazz Johnson and Lindsey Drew who have helped make the transition in Reno a bit smoother than expected for a new coaching staff who had a lot to live up to coming in (three straight NCAA tournament appearances, three straight regular season conference championships).
With fresh starts at both schools this season, in-state supremacy is up for the taking. For Runnin’ Rebel fans who haven’t had that opportunity in a while, that’s big. And for those wearing blue and silver tonight it’s the chance to keep the title home in a new era under Alford.
Prediction: Nevada 80, UNLV 77
This game will come down to who want’s it more and who is knocking down more shots (like most should). Though while UNLV has a squad that could go about five deep in the scoring column as of recent, Nevada’s big three (i.e. Harris, Johnson, Drew, sometimes Zouzoua) doesn’t receive much help most nights and if one of those Wolf Pack members above isn’t scoring things get a bit trickier for Alford and crew.
Something else to note is the list of most recent opponents for each squad. While Nevada’s slate consisted of Colorado State (W), Boise State (W), Utah State (L) and San Diego State (L). UNLV has faced Utah State (W), Boise State (their one league loss) and New Mexico (not the same Lobos we were used to either) from the top half of the Mountain West standings. Not to say the Rebels’ performance in those games were something to knock, it just seems like their toughest challenges lie ahead.
But the most important thing tonight is,