Last year, UNLV and San Diego State split their two games. SDSU won a two-point game at home on a Jamaal Franklin buzzer-beater, and the Rebels won in Las Vegas by the same two-point margin. Don’t expect much to change this season.
Expect two more intense, back-and-forth games decided in the final minutes. And it starts on Wednesday, when UNLV travels to San Diego to take on the 14-2 Aztecs. How can the Rebels edge ahead in this season’s first meeting? Let’s take a look at some of the key numbers in this edition of Over/Under.
Over/Under: 8.5 rebounds for Jamaal Franklin
Franklin is San Diego state’s leading scorer (17.8 points per game) and top assist man (3.5 per game), but UNLV appears to be most concerned about his rebounding ability. Though he’s just 6-foot-5, Franklin leads the Aztecs with 10.3 boards per game, and he grabs 18.0 percent of all available rebounds. With the frontcourt of Mike Moser, Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch, UNLV has a big size advantage and should win the overall rebounding battle, but Franklin can destroy those plans single-handedly. It will be up to the Rebels’ perimeter players to stay diligent and keep him from crashing, especially on the offensive end. Moser had a simple strategy for neutralizing Franklin’s rebounding presence. “Box him out,” said Mike Moser. “Isn’t much you can do besides box him out.” I think the Rebels will do a decent enough job of that, and Franklin will be held to the UNDER.
Over/Under: 20.5 points for Anthony Bennett
New Mexico was able to take the ball out of Bennett’s hands by double-teaming him quickly in the post. Judging by how effective that game plan was, I’d expect San Diego State to do something similar. Bennett won’t be able to post up against single coverage, so he’ll have to work harder for his points. I think UNLV will move him around more often, and I think Bennett will even be more aggressive in beating double teams, because he knows the Rebels need him to score. I think he can get OVER the 20.5.
Over/Under: 23.5 combined points and rebounds for Mike Moser
How good did it feel to have Mike Moser back and throwing up a 14 and 11 line against Air Force? Now the question is, can he keep up that kind of production on a consistent basis from here on out? The Rebels need him to help control the glass against SDSU’s front line, and his size should create matchup problems for the Aztecs’ defense. Last year, Moser averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds against San Diego State, and I expect similar numbers on Wednesday. Take the OVER.
Over/Under: 16.5 fast break points for UNLV
Scoring against San Diego State’s half court defense is a losing proposition. The Aztecs allow just 0.705 points per possessions in half court situations, one of the best marks in the nation (by comparison, UNLV’s defense is at 0.736 per possession), so any points the Rebels can wring out of their transition attack will be crucial. UNLV will need good games from freshmen Anthony Bennett and Katin Reinhardt, who have graded out as the Rebels’ best fast break players so far this season, but it’s tough to expect the young guys to come through in a tough road environment against the No. 15 team in the country. I’m taking the UNDER.
Over/Under: 2.5 3-pointers for Chase Tapley
Tapley is an assassin. UNLV simply cannot leave him alone behind the 3-point line, where he shoots 43.7 percent and averages 2.5 makes per game. I would expect Reinhardt to draw this assignment, since Tapley prefers to catch-and-shoot and not put the ball on the floor, but look for the Rebels to switch all screens involving Tapley and close out aggressively. Still, I think he’ll find enough open looks to go OVER here.
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