The Runnin' Rebels look to avoid the sweep in tough enviornment in Provo.
UNLV fans consider themselves to have two rivals: Nevada and BYU. A lot of teams call BYU their rival, but when it comes to basketball, this game is a true rivalry. Both team's fans hate eachother and truly want to beat the other one. At the beginning of conference season, BYU stormed the Thomas & Mack and dominated the Rebels, 89-77. Now the Rebels look to return the favor in front of a sold-out, hyped up BYU crowd.
BYU fans are having the dream season. Top 10 ranking? Check. National Player of the Year candidate? Check. National Spotlight? Check. The Cougars have been tough to beat all season, only losing to New Mexico and UCLA. Sweeping the team they hate would only add icing on top.
UNLV on the other hand is trying to spoil that season and avoid the season sweep. It will be very hard for the Rebels, especially since they will be playing in front of over 22,000 hostile fans, but it is possible. The Rebels are going to have to play away from their track meet style of game, and that's something that's normally not said.
UNLV is known for creating turnovers with their pressure defense in order to score quick points, but they also easily make bad decisions in fast break situations. BYU plays an up tempo style as well, only they don't make mistakes and rarely miss foul shots.
Both BYU and UNLV play a similar style mainly due to their personnel. Both teams have fantastic backcourts while their frontcourts aren't very strong, at least they haven't been. UNLV's amazing post play was the key in their Wednesday night victory over Utah and that's going to be an important part to UNLV beating BYU. Both Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas were beasts down low and if that can be replicated, then UNLV can limit BYU's second chances and score easy points down low.
Not to mention that with stellar post play the Rebels can afford to slow the game down, something they haven't been able to do in years past. By slowing the game down, UNLV can get into their stifling halfcourt defense and really make Jimmer & Co. work.
For BYU its just the opposite. When they get in transition or on the fast break, they are almost impossible to stop. Try to push the tempo as much as possible in order to get more scoring opportunities.
My Predicition? UNLV's post game play against Utah was just a flash in the pan of the potential that Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas have. BYU gets too many fast break opportunities and the Cougars ride the crowd noise to a comfortable win by double digits. I truly hope I'm wrong.
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