Sporting an unblemished home record this ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels try to complete the perfect campaign at the Thomas & Mack Center, as they tangle with the Wyoming Cowboys in Mountain West Conference action tonight.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, playing on the road in 2011-12 has been a much different story as they've dropped seven outings. The most recent of those setbacks came on Wednesday night at Colorado State, as UNLV squandered a 16- point, second-half lead and ended up suffering a surprising 66-59 loss to the Rams, yet the team still has a small shot at claiming a share of the MWC regular-season title.
UNLV, which trails both New Mexico and San Diego State in the conference standings by one game, is 16-0 at home this season, with 15 of those victories coming at the Thomas & Mack, which ranks as the 11th-longest home court win streak in the nation.
Over on the other side, the Cowboys have delivered their first 20-win season since 2002-03 thanks to a 71-59 home win over TCU earlier this week. The victory was the second in a row for the squad and moved them to 6-7 in conference play, which means they are alone in sixth place in the league standings.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Rebels own a record of 28-15 versus Wyoming entering tonight's contest. However, the Cowboys are the ones who claimed victory in the first meeting of the season at Arena Auditorium in Laramie, 68-66. Despite the setback, UNLV has still won eight of the last 10 matchups with the Pokes overall.
TCU may be undefeated at home in conference play this season, but on Tuesday night the team was playing in Laramie and the luck for the Horned Frogs didn't extend that far north as Wyoming posted the double-digit win. The Cowboys held the visitors to only 6-of-22 shooting behind the three-point line and watched the Frogs make only 11-of-19 shots at the free-throw line. Offensively, Leonard Washington came off the bench to supply a huge double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Francisco Cruz and Adam Waddell with 19 and 14 points, respectively. After having a four-game stretch of weak scoring efforts during which he combined to tally just 29 points, Washington has turned around to log back-to-back double-doubles at just the right time. In conference games he is averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.8 rpg, while Cruz (12.4 ppg) and Luke Martinez (10.5 ppg) also shoulder considerable offensive burden.
The Runnin' Rebels were off to one of their best starts in decades just a month ago, but the reality now is that the team just might not be nationally- ranked once the regular season ends for the Mountain West this weekend. Against Colorado State on the road the team appeared to have a comfortable lead, but that's before the offense completely disappeared in the second half three nights ago. The team made a mere six field goals after the break, shot 1-of-9 beyond the arc en route to the stunning loss. Mike Moser was brought off the bench for a change and was never able to get into a rhythm as he shot 1-of-10 from the field and finished with just five points and a pair of rebounds before fouling out. Oscar Bellfield (17 points) and Anthony Marshall (11 points) were the only ones in double digits. Moser, who was posed to be a likely pick for MWC Player of the Year, has been dreadful in the scoring department the last four games, combining for just 26 points after posting 22 against TCU prior to this slump.