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UNLV vs. Portland preview: Rebels return home

Rashad Vaughn and UNLV are back in Las Vegas for a tough stretch. But before the Runnin’ Rebels can exact some Pac-12 revenge, Portland comes to town with an efficient offense.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV returns home for a matchup with Portland (7-2), which kicks off a three-games-in-seven-days stretch that also features #14 Utah and #3 Arizona.

But before the Pac-12 foes come to Las Vegas, UNLV will have to deal with Portland’s balanced offensive attack. The Pilots will start two seniors listed at 6-foot-11 in Thomas van der Mars and Volodymyr Gerun. They are combining to score 21.3 points and grab 14.3 rebound per game.

But the Pilots can also shoot it. Starting guard Alec Wintering is at 50 percent on the season from three-point range. Plus, coming off the bench is D’Marques Tyson, who is hitting 41.7 percent of his threes.

However the Pilots may be shorthanded on the perimeter, as leading scorer Kevin Bailey has missed the last two games with a left foot injury, and may be out again on Wednesday.  Bailey was averaging 13.1 points and shooting 35 percent (7 of 20) on threes through seven games.

PORTLAND NOTES

  • The frount court duo have helped make Portland one of the best rebounding teams in the country, as the Pilots rank 24th in rebounding percentage at 56.6 percent.
  • UNLV ranks 258th in rebounding percentage, grabbing less than half (48.2 percent) of available rebounds.
  • Per Synergy Sports, Portland is in the top 17 percentile in half court offensive efficiency. They have been great in the post this season ranking in the top 60 in post up efficiency.
  • Those post ups – and penetration – have led to spot up jumpers, which is the main factor in Portland’s offense this season. The Pilots are also in the top 60 in spot up efficiency.
  • They have done a good job of avoiding dribble jumpers, as Portland is 24th in the country with 63.3 percent of their made shots coming from an assist.
  • Portland has limited teams to an assist percentage of 41.5 percent, good for 6th in the country.
  • The Pilots are 4-1 away from home this season and 2-0 in true road games. They have gone to overtime twice, winning at San Jose State and losing at home to Oregon State.

UNLV NOTES

  • UNLV played without any of its three big men in a win over South Dakota on Saturday. That meant Pat McCaw and Jordan Cornish were running the four and five spot of the Rebels zone offense, something Dave Rice said they had not practiced.
  • Cody Doolin praised the defensive effort that the five-guard lineup gave, as the Rebels held South Dakota scoreless the final three minutes of the first half with that lineup.
  • UNLV is 342nd in the country in free throw percentage at 57.8 percent; Portland ranks 27th at 75.3 percent.
  • UNLV is second in the country in opponent’s field goal percentage at the rim, allowing opponents to shot 40.8 percent. Only Virginia is better at 39.5 percent.
  • UNLV is also second in the country in block percentage, swatting 19.9 percent of opponents’ two-point shots.
  • Through eight games UNLV is 6-0 against teams with an animal for a nickname but 0-2 against non-animal teams.
  • Dave Rice said Jelan Kendrick and Rashad Vaughn suffered no setbacks in their return to the floor against South Dakota. The pair had missed the game against St. Katherine with a groin and back injury, respectively.
  • Kendrick played the most minutes against South Dakota, as he registered 38. He was needed on the defensive end to guard the Coyotes big man when Chris Wood, Goodluck Okonoboh and Dwayne Morgan were in foul trouble. UNLV did switch every ball screen, so Kendrick wasn’t solely responsible for post defense.

The game will tip at 7:30 pm PST. It is a part of a double header, as the UNLV women will take on Northwestern at 4:00 pm in the Thomas & Mack. Both games will be broadcasted online at UNLVRebels.com/videos/.