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Colorado State vs. UNLV preview: Rams travel to Las Vegas

The seventh place Runnin’ Rebels are looking to win their second in row and get within one game of sixth place Colorado State.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado State will travel to play UNLV on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack.  This is a huge game for both the Rebels and the Rams as both teams have the same goals for the rest of conference play: build momentum going into the conference tournament, and finish in the top five in the Mountain West Standings.  The top five teams get a first round bye.

The Rams currently hold a two game lead on the Rebels and sit in sixth place within the conference.  A win for the Runnin' Rebels would be huge in that it would bring them within one game of the Rams and also help them close ground on fifth place Nevada, who they face next Saturday in Las Vegas.  However, a victory for UNLV will be tough to come by.

The Rams enter the game riding a three game winning streak, most recently having defeated Boise State in overtime, after a controversial call overturned a would be game winning three by the Broncos James Webb III.  While the Rebels are coming off a victory over San Jose State which saw them play their worst first half of the season.

For the Rebel's to win (further detailed here):

Avoid the slow starts that have plagued them the last two games.  The Rams possess one of the most efficient offenses in the conference, and if UNLV opens cold this game will likely be over at half time.

Take a page out of Larry Eustachy's coaching manual.  The Rams are notorious for team rebounding, and with the Rebels missing their 7-footer, Stephen Zimmerman, it's imperative that all the Rebels attack the glass to minimize the rebounding disparity.  Thankfully for UNLV, Derrick Jones is expected to play.  He grabbed 18 boards in the win over San Jose State, and will need to be aggressive grabbing boards again against the Rams.

For the Rams to win:

Slow the game down and take care of the ball.  UNLV will look to generate its offense by causing turnovers and scoring easy buckets in transition.  If the Rams can minimize their mistakes and slow the game down, UNLV will be forced to play in its half court offense, which, based on how UNLV typically shoots, will likely lead to a victory for the Rams.

Utilize size and depth.  It's no secret that the Rebels are extremely short handed.  If the Rams can take advantage of their size to control the boards and use their depth to wear down UNLV, they will likely leave Las Vegas with a victory.

The game tips off at 7pm on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.