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UNLV guard, Jalen Poyser, celebrates as the clock winds down in overtime, sealing the Rebels 102-91 victory over Nevada (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)
UNLV guard, Jalen Poyser, celebrates as the clock winds down in overtime, sealing the Rebels 102-91 victory over Nevada (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

A look ahead: Previewing Rebels vs Broncos, Cowboys

By Manny Vieites
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After going 1-1 in last week’s meetings, UNLV plans to make a strong finish this week starting at Boise State on Tuesday.

The Rebels suffered a demoralizing loss last week at Air Force after beating the Falcons by 25 in their previous matchup. UNLV Head Coach Todd Simon was aware that the game plan would be different but not as different as it has been.

Coming off what some say, “the best game of the year” against Nevada on Saturday winning (102-91 in OT). With the team moral at a season high the Rebels have proved to one another that they can finish out the season strong, even with the ever changing schemes.

The game plan has differentiated game to game starting against San Jose State on February 10th  when Stephen Zimmerman was ruled out indefinitely with a knee injury. Since then, the Rebels have gone into each game with a different defensive scheme, offensive rotation and size disadvantages.

Senior, Ike Nwamu, drives on a Nevada defender during Saturday's game (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Senior, Ike Nwamu, drives on a Nevada defender during Saturday’s game (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

“We knew the game plan would be different from game to game,” said Simon. “Our guys just dig deep each game and just make it work, they play for one another.”

Now looking forward to Tuesday, Simon will be handed the task of replacing the great play of Ben Carter and Zimmerman. In the first matchup against Boise State, Zimmerman and Carter scored a combined 28 points and 19 rebounds. This will be able to be managed, since Boise State matches up accordingly to the dismantled Rebel lineup.

Boise State is a guard and forward orientated team and that is exactly what the Rebels have been dealt with. This is the kind of road test the Rebels need to gain momentum to finish out the last three games of the season.

Patrick McCaw and Derrick Jones Jr. will have to be the aggressive factors on Tuesday being the only players on the roster over 6-7. Sophomore Dwayne Morgan is being ruled out after suffering a dislocated shoulder in shoot around preceding Saturday’s matchup against UNR.

Pat McCaw flexes at the Rebels' student section after hitting the game-tying three to force overtime against Nevada (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Pat McCaw flexes at the Rebels’ student section after hitting the game-tying three to force overtime against Nevada (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

The biggest question is, can McCaw and Jones grab the necessary rebounds to win the advantage against Boise? McCaw has averaged eight rebounds over the last four games with Zimmerman and Carter being out, having a huge rebounding night against Nevada with 18.

Not only will the rebounds be a concern, the rise and fall of the Rebels will be in the three-point game as well as in transition.

“We will look to close the gaps on the defensive end, play tight and run in transition,” Simon said.

Unlike other power conferences, the gap in-between games can stretch from 4-5 days, which is great for the Rebels, considering the six to seven man lineup that they have been dealt. The Rebels have their last home game against reigning Mountain West Tournament Champions Wyoming on Saturday, where they will celebrate senior night.

In the previous matchup Wyoming got the best of the Rebels beating them 59-57 in what would be Dave Rice’s final game as head coach for the Rebels. The stats are deceiving on this one considering Zimmerman and Carter only combined for 13 points and 14 rebounds. Which makes the slack very manageable for UNLV.

The Rebels won the rebounding battle 36-28 at Wyoming but committed 18 turnovers and went a dismal 12 of 21 from the line (57 percent) on their way to blowing a 22-5 lead.

Wyoming's Josh Adams celebrates as the buzzer sounds, dealing the Cowboys Mountain West Tournament Champions in March 2015. The Cowboys look to sweep the Rebels this Saturday at the Thomas & Mack (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Wyoming’s Josh Adams celebrates as the buzzer sounds, dealing the Cowboys Mountain West Tournament Champions in March 2015. The Cowboys look to sweep the Rebels this Saturday at the Thomas & Mack (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Considering it is the last home game of the season for the Rebels look for the Mack to be packed and roaring.

“When the Mack is like that its hard to beat us at home,” McCaw said, following the 102-91 win against Nevada.

After this weeks matchups, the Rebels finish the regular season March 5th at San Diego State and return to Las Vegas the following week to kick off the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

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