clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

David Collette, Aggie shooters highlight UNLV's trip to Logan

David Collette nearly stole a win in Las Vegas by himself, but Utah State couldn’t close out the Rebels. Now they get a second shot at UNLV.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

On January 24th Utah State was set to knock off UNLV in Las Vegas. The Aggies led 64-59 with 49 seconds to play; 75 percent free throw shooter Jalen Moore was at the line. He missed, and Utah State proceeded to blow their lead and lose in overtime.

Utah State’s Jojo McGlaston fouled Jordan Cornish on a three pointer, and the Aggies would miss two more free throws in the final 45 seconds to set up Pat McCaw’s game-tying shot at the buzzer.

Utah State (16-10, 9-5 Mountain West) had UNLV (15-12, 6-8) beat, and it stemmed from David Collette’s scoring prowess. The freshman big man scored 24 points on 12 of 16 shooting, as Chris Wood and a limited Goodluck Okonoboh struggled to defend Collette in the post and off screens.

But what makes Collette the second most efficient post up player in the Mountain West is the construction of shooters around him. Utah State leads the conference in three-point shooting, knocking down an absurd 44 percent of their three balls in conference play.

"They typically have four guys on the floor that can all space it and shoot it, and then Collette inside who is a difficult machup one on one," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said.

The combination of Collette and shooters forces opponents to choose between sending a double to the post or sticking to the shooters.

"When a team’s shooting 44 percent from the three-point line you can’t assume they’re going to miss. You have to assume they’re going to make them all," Rice said. "So we have to run them off the line."

UNLV occasionally sent some help-side defense to the post, but Collette typically had a solo matchup with Chris Wood.

collette unlv

Collette finished with no assists, and Utah State’s top scorer, Jalen Moore, was 0 of 5 from three-point range. UNLV’s defensive strategy worked to a certain degree; only Darius Perkins did anything from three, as he sank 4 of 5 from deep.

But UNLV couldn’t stop Collette, who committed the foul in the final seconds that handed UNLV the win. But the Rebels will have a healthier front line, as Goodluck Okonoboh was in his first game back since his foot injury.

Okonoboh played 20 minutes, and spent some time on Collette. Neither Wood nor Okonoboh are premier one on one defenders inside, but they both block shots at a high rate. Plus based on the strategy from game one, UNLV can afford to have Collette score, they just can’t let him shoot 12 of 16 and count on a miracle minute to tie the game.

Offensively, UNLV will be without Rasahd Vaughn again. Vaughn dropped 31 points on Utah State, so the defense may have to be more than competent on Collette, as UNLV looks to replace those points.

Pat McCaw and Jelan Kendrick were the offensive standouts from UNLV’s win over New Mexico on Saturday. McCaw had a career-high 22 points, while Kendrick scored 17 and dished out 7 assists, as UNLV scored the most points per possession of any opponent against New Mexico this season.

Pat McCaw, the brightest spot for UNLV this year, has shot substantially better on the road this season. McCaw is averaging 13.7 points in road games compared to just 7.2 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The freshman guard is a 51 percent shooter on the road, but just at 33 percent at home.

Rice said Vaughn’s surgery went "extremely well", but there is still no timetable for his return. UNLV said that he could return for the Mountain West when the injury was first announced. Vaughn is expected to make a full recovery.

The importance of the game – as neither team is in the hunt for a conference title – is seeding for the Mountain West tournament. Currently Utah State sits at fifth with a 9-5 conference record, while UNLV is in seventh at 6-8.

The top six seeds get a bye; even if the Aggies drop a second game to UNLV, they’ll still be in good shape to get a bye. Utah State closes the year with Air Force, Wyoming and Colorado State.

For the Rebels, a win would give them the tiebreaker over teams currently sitting fifth and sixth. UNLV would be 2-0 against Utah State and 1-0 against Fresno State.

UNLV and Utah State will tip at 6:30 p.m. PST on Tuesday from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.