UNLV heads to Texas, to face SMU
Can UNLV upset SMU?
Matchup: UNLV at SMU
Date: December 1
Time: 8 PM EST
SPREAD: SMU -8.5
SMU Key Players:
Kendrick Davis: He doesn’t get the shine other guards receive. But there aren’t five guards nationally than Kendrick Davis — averaging 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists while posting shooting splits 48-40-89. With the question marks surrounding UNLV’s point guard position, Davis post big numbers.
Emmanuel Bandoumel: The Mustangs’ third-leading scorer is also their best three-point shooting threat. Bandoumel leads the team shooting 42 percent from the perimeter.
Marcus Weathers: The Duquense transfer is the teams top rebounder with 7.1 per game. Looking at Weathers 6-foot-5 frame, that wouldn’t make you think of a physical post player, but that’s what he is. With the success of UNLV’s Royce Hamm Jr cleaning up the rebounds, Weathers corralling rebounds will be massive.
SMU has NCAA Tournament-level talent, especially with the dynamics of Davis, but they haven’t lived up to those expectations. SMU’s struggled closing out games, blowing two double-figures second-half leads to
Missouri and Loyola Marymount, losing both of those games.
UNLV Key Players:
Bryce Hamilton: The star scorer leads UNLV with 15.7 PPG but only shoots 38 percent from the field on over 15 shots. Hamilton scores in bunches and can score 30+ any given night, but can also struggle mightily at times.
Josh Baker: Looking at the stats, Baker only averages 3.6 points in the early going. With the lack of shooting on the roster, Baker’s shooting prowess could come in handy on the road.
Royce Hamm Jr: Hamm is posting Prime Dwight Howard-esque rebounding numbers, positing double-digit rebounds in four games and 17 twice. Against a smaller SMU team, Hamm could rack up the rebounds once again.
UNLV faced a daunting task on Saturday, hosting the third-ranked UCLA Bruins in Vegas. The result: UCLA won the game easily, 73-51 on the final tally. That loss gives Kevin Kruger‘s squad their third season loss — all to formidable opponents … Michigan, Wichita State, and UCLA.
The Rebels are the worst three-point shooting team in the Mountain West, only connecting on 27 percent of outside shots. Donovan Williams is the lone player shooting above 36 percent from deep on the roster, while Bryce Hamilton shoots 26 percent from deep. If UNLV wins challenging road games, those three-point shooting woes cannot continue into this one. Winning road games isn’t easy in any College Basketball environment, especially when shots aren’t falling.
Prediction: SMU 76, UNLV 71
I think UNLV stays within the 8.5 point spread, but SMU having Kendrick Davis has me favor the Mustangs defend homecourt.