UNLV vs San Jose State series preview: Rebels look to get back on track against the Spartans

UNLV vs San Jose State series preview: Rebels look to get back on track against the Spartans

Mountain West Basketball

UNLV vs San Jose State series preview: Rebels look to get back on track against the Spartans

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San Jose State has only won four games at home all year including two in conference play.


Rebels are hoping to gain some momentum as the conference season pulls into its final stretch.


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Game: UNLV (8-11 5-7) vs. San Jose State (5-13 3-11)
Location:  Providence Credit Union Events Center. San Jose, CA
Friday: 630 p.m. PT
Streaming: Game 1 Mountain West Network

Sunday: 1 p.m. PT
TV: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: FuboTV get a 7-day free trial
Radio: UNLV | SJSU
Odds via BET MGM: UNLV -12.5

San Jose State has not played since a 77-55 loss against San Diego State on February 10th.

With four games remaining in both team’s schedules, barring any COVID-19 issues, the Rebels and Spartans find themselves in the lower tier of the Mountain West Conference standings.

San Jose State has matched their conference win total from last year, while UNLV has some work to do if they want to improve their seed for the conference tournament. Which is at the Thomas and Mack Center in three weeks. Here are some keys to this series:

Scoring the basketball

For UNLV, we know the offense is going to run through Bryce Hamilton (18 points per game) and David Jenkins(15 points per game). This is the question for the Spartans, where is their scoring going to come from? Since Richard Washington, (who averaged 20 points a contest) went out with a head injury against New Mexico in January.

San Jose State has had a rough time scoring. In addition, solid rebounder Seneca Knight, who opted out of the season after just four games is not there to help. Now it seems Omari Moore and Ralph Agee will be depended upon to lift the Spartans past UNLV.

Shooting the Basketball

San Jose State only shoots 39% from the field and a miserable 31% from three. Percentages duplicated in this game will absolutely lead to a big win for UNLV, who shoots 44 percent from the field.

The Rebels aren’t spectacular from beyond the three-point line at 36%, but they do like to put up a lot of shots from downtown per game. Both teams like to use their guards to generate scoring opportunities so it should be interesting to see whose backcourt leads their team to a victory.

Mbacke down in the block

Mbacke Diong will be the tallest guy on the floor for either team. The Rebels should feed their big man as much as they can, Diong shoots 58 % from the floor and he has gotten better as the season has progressed in terms of his soft touch down low, as well as his rebounding ability(8 per game)on both ends of the floor. Not to mention his defensive effort has improved greatly.

Not the best shot blocker, he will still affect the shot near the rim. The guard heavy Spartan team will need to keep an eye on him whenever they attempt to attack the lane.

Players to watch

UNLV – The Rebel bench. I say this because if the game gets out of hand and TJ Otzelberger is looking to get some of his players at the end of his bench some valuable minutes, this may be a good opportunity. It will also take some pressure off of his starters. Give them a little bit of a rest for the stretch run before tournament time.

SJSU – Ralph Agee is a player to watch for the Spartans. The senior from Victorville will be looking to end his college career(potentially) with a victory over a named opponent in UNLV. He will have his team ready to battle, will he have the help he needs?

Interesting series factoids

The first meeting between these teams was on February 18th, 1983, an 84-81 Rebel win at the Convention Center in Las Vegas. UNLV was ranked #1 in the country at the time. All-time, UNLV is 41-6 against SJSU. The last victory for the Spartans in the series came in 2017 when SJSU went on to sweep UNLV that season. The Rebels are 10-2 against the Spartans since SJSU joined the Mountain West Conference in 2013. Between their first matchup in 1983 and 1994 UNLV won the first 25 matchups between the two teams.

Prediction:
Game 1 UNLV 86-67
Game 2 UNLV 82-66

Jayson Williams covers UNLV basketball for The Mountain West Wire. He also Co-hosts “The Vegas Fever Podcast”.

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