UNLV faces steep step up in competition after early season victories over Jacksonville State and Northern Arizona
On Friday night, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels will take on the Oregon Ducks in the opening game for both teams of the Global Sports Classic, a tournament of which UNLV is hosting in the Thomas & Mack Center. While the schedule says neutral site, this is practically a home game for UNLV, as they will be playing in their home arena in front of a sold out Las Vegas crowd.
Oregon will have a decent contingent of fans in the arena, reportedly 1,200, but they could be drowned out early if the Runnin' Rebels get the tempo going. The question is whether or not they will be able to sustain that tempo throughout the entire game.
In UNLV's only two games this season they faced Jacksonville State and Northern Arizona, and expectedly had their way with each opponent. Oregon is no Jacksonville State or Northern Arizona, and it most likely will be evident on the court when UNLV's mistakes are capitalized on rather than simply squandered away and forgotten.
At least, that's what could happen. The Rebels were sloppy at times in both games, but neither team could take a sizable advantage. Oregon has that possibility. The Ducks are known for their depth, just like the Runnin' Rebels, particularly in the frontcourt. 6-6 E.J. Singler and 6-11 Tony Woods have averaged a combined 24.8 points per game and should be a handful for Anthony Bennett and Mike Moser.
As head coach Dave Rice put it, "They just keep coming," something you hear the Rebels opposing coach say before most games.
No matter whether or not the Rebels are able to beat the Ducks tonight, they still will have to face another team tomorrow in a turnaround of less than 24 hours. In the other semi-final of the Global Sports Classic, #22 Cincinnati faces Iowa State, with the winners and losers of both games playing eachother for first and third place, respectively.
Can the Rebels play such an uptempo style essentially twice in the same day so early in the season? I guess we'll find out starting with a stiff test against a deep Oregon Ducks team.