The UNLV Rebels wrapped up their 2009-2010 regular season in style, securing the #3 seed in the Mountain West conference tournament with a 74-56 demolition of the Wyoming Cowboys. The Rebels improved to 23-7 and 11-5 in conference play and will open up the conference tournament against a growing nemesis in the Utah Runnin Utes. The Utes won both regular season contests between the teams and will look to get the sweep next Thursday night.
UNLV managed one last game of not looking ahead in completing a 4-game run that really was as easy as the scores would indicate. Over the course of the last two weeks, UNLV has trailed for a total 2 minutes and 49 seconds and put together an average margin of victory over almost 24 points per game. It's been against the sub-par teams in the conference, but wins are wins when it comes to padding your NCAA tournament resume.
Tre'Von Willis and Chace Stanback were once again the leaders on offense. Willis finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, while Stanback finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds. The offense was guided by point guard Oscar Bellfield, who put up 7 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds, with only 1 turnover. Bellfield can be a bit hot and cold when it comes to scoring, but he has quietly put together a very solid sophomore campaign. He finished the regular season averaging 9.3 ppg and 4.5 apg, with only 1.9 turnovers per game. If UNLV ends up in the NCAA tournament, if they face a tough, physical team early on, Bellfield's poise at the point will be absolutely essential for any hope of advancing.
Wyoming wrapped up a disappointing season with 20 losses, a season removed from 19 wins. In watching the Cowboys, I will say that they have some crazy athletes on that team. Djibril Thiam had some impressive moves and finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman guard Desmar Jackson looks legit as well. He led the Cowboys with 21 points and 5 steals and will be a big factor for them next season.
UNLV: The Rebels secured the #3 seed (tie-breaker over SDSU) and will face Utah, thanks to Colorado State's victory over the Utes earlier today. The Utes have had UNLV's number thus far this season and will look to follow SDSU last year and get the 3-game sweep of the Rebels. I would like to think UNLV would have an at-large bid regardless of the results of this game, but why put yourself in that situation? I think UNLV needs to jump out early and maintain some kind of lead. If they fall behind early, the Rebels could run into a psychological block. This game will air at 8:30pm pacific on CBS College Sports TV, with the winner facing the winner of BYU-TCU. I think the Rebels finally manage a win against the Utes and lock up an at-large bid for certain.
Wyoming: The Cowboys will face Air Force in the 8/9 play-in game on Wednesday at 2pm pacific on The Mtn. The two teams split their season series, which was Air Force's only win of the conference season. The Cowboys other two wins were upsets of Utah and San Diego State. I'd imagine Wyoming will probably pull this one out thanks to their superior athleticism. The winner then faces New Mexico in what could be a blood-bath for that team.