With fewer than 20 undefeated teams remaining ranked team in the nation takes on the Wichita State Shockers this afternoon as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge at Koch Arena.
Playing in just their second true road game of 2011-12, the Runnin' Rebels have piled up eight wins in as many chances already this season. Their toughest test was supposed to be the meeting with top-ranked North Carolina last weekend which ended in a double-digit victory (90-80), but the Rebels were nearly thrown off track by UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night before pulling out a 94-88 triumph in double-overtime.
As for the Shockers, they are currently riding a two-game win streak thanks to a 75-60 romp over Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night. The team is now 4-2 overall and a perfect 3-0 at home.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, it stands all square at 1-1. UNLV captured a 111-89 triumph in the most recent matchup back in 1979 in Las Vegas, while a year earlier it was WSU that grabbed an 87-83 win in Kansas.
The Rebels dialed up the defense in the second overtime versus UCSB earlier this week, holding the Gauchos to a total of just four points, an effort that was more than enough to keep UNLV undefeated. Before picking up his fifth personal foul, Mike Moser recorded a double-double for the visitors with 34 points and 10 rebounds, both of which were team highs for UNLV. Adding to the scoring assault were Chace Stanback with 19 points, Anthony Marshall 13, and Oscar Bellfield 11 points. Marshall also handed out eight assists in an effort to pick up the slack left by Brice Massamba who tallied a mere three points in 38 minutes. Moser has been an incredible performer for the Rebels in the early going, leading the group in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (13.3 rpg) and also pacing the group with 20 steals and coming up with 26 assists which says he uses up all his energy at both ends of the floor. As a group, the Rebels are scoring a healthy 83.2 ppg and have held opponents to just 66.6 ppg based on 39.7 percent shooting from the floor.
Wichita State's Carl Hall made good on all but one of his nine field goal chances, finishing with a team-best 19 points and adding eight rebounds to pace the group on the glass as well in their win over Fullerton. Joe Ragland tacked on 15 points and David Kyles another 14 and seven boards as the team played tight defense and were rewarded with 23 turnovers by the Titans. Held to just eight points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field, Toure Murry is still tops on the scoring list overall for the Shockers with his 13.7 ppg, thanks in large part to his 22-of-29 effort at the free-throw line and not so much his 4-of-15 behind the three-point line. Kyles and Ben Smith are both producing another 10.2 ppg apiece and have combined to make good on 23-of-60 opportunities from long distance, which means the rest of the team combined is just 15-of-56 at this stage of the campaign.