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Preview: UNLV Basketball vs. South Alabama

The Marvin Menzies era officially begins with UNLV on Friday night.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-2nd Round-Kansas vs New Mexico State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long off season for the Rebels. They are the official underdogs of the Mountain West conference this season and expected to have little national impact. Their drop in regional and national notoriety may have characterized the last few months, but Marvin Menzies and his players have a chance to erase all of that starting Friday night.

The Thomas and Mack Center, once the thriving epicenter of howling Runnin’ Rebel fans during UNLV basketball games in golden years, will play host to the season opener between the home squad and the South Alabama Jaguars. Usually, the first few games of a season for reputable D-I teams can be counted on as W’s, but nothing is certain with this revamped Rebel roster.

What to look for?

Keep an eye out for Kris Clyburn of UNLV. He has consistently been the Rebels bright spot in the preseason. Recently, the junior college transfer dropped in 22 points with 11 rebounds. Additionally, guard and returner Jalen Poyser will be counted on much more this season for his leadership and outside shooting consistency.

South Alabama won their exhibition game against Mobile 77-46. Playing UNLV this year is certainly the highlight of the Jaguars’ non-conference season which also features games against FIU, Denver, and Old Miss. South Alabama enters the game against UNLV with more experience, recently led by the scoring of upper class men Nick Stover and Shaq Calhoun.

UNLV should handle their first outing against the Jaguars but not in blow-out fashion. Prediction: UNLV 82, South Alabama 69.

Friday’s match-up can be watched live here via the Mountain West Network: