UNLV and Wyoming are two teams in very similar situations. Both are coming into this game with little to play for outside of building momentum for the conference tournament, and now both are anxiously waiting to hear if two of their star players will be on the court on Saturday.
The Cowboys guard Josh Adams suffered a high ankle sprain during the first of half of their loss to San Diego State on Wednesday night. While he was able to return, and ended up scoring 27 points, according to Coach Larry Shyatt, "right now he's day to day, hour to hour".
If Adams is not able to play, or even play at 100%, that would be a huge blow to the Cowboys. Josh Adams is currently the leading scorer in the conference, and fourth overall in the nation at 24.5 points per game. There's arguably no other player in the conference as important to their team as Adams is to the Cowboys.
While the Cowboys await word on Adams, UNLV is also awaiting to see if one of their most important players will be making his return to the court on Saturday night.
The Rebels received some promising news on Thursday in that freshman forward Stephen Zimmerman was cleared for full contact in practice and appears to be on track to play on Saturday night, barring any setbacks. The Rebels are in desperate need of bodies, and getting a healthy Zimmerman back would put them back to seven scholarship players, which would help to bolster an already thin rotation and extremely thin front court.
During the Rebels loss at Boise State on Tuesday night, Derrick Jones, Ike Nwamu and Jordan Cornish were all forced to log minutes at center. None of them stand taller than 6'7". That lack of height led to Boise dominating points in the paint, dominating the boards and forced the Rebels to rely even more heavily on their inconsistent outside shooting.
If Zimmerman is able to play the Rebels will have true post player back in the lineup for the first time since February 6th while playing at Fresno State. While both Dwayne Morgan (currently injured) and Derrick Jones have played admirably, neither of them possesses the offensive and defensive skill in the post that Zimmerman does. If Zimmerman is not able to go Saturday night, look for Wyoming to attack UNLV in the post and exploit their lack of size on the boards just like Boise State did.
Outside of Adams, Wyoming will be looking to guard Josh McManamen and forward Alan Herndon. McManamen is second on the team in points at 13.9 while Herdon is third at 7.6.
While a win for the Rebels, does little to nothing for their seeding in the conference tournament, a win would go a long way in helping them build momentum going into their season finale at first place San Diego State and also for the conference tournament where they will be required to four games in a row to reach the NCAA tournament.
UNLV 71 - Wyoming 68
Game Day Notes:
Saturday is Senior Night at the Thomas & Mack. Tip off is at 5 p.m. and the game will be streaming live on ESPN3. Seniors Ike Nwamu and Jerome Seagears will be playing in their final regular season home game at the T&M. Hopefully they get to play their four more times during the conference tournament.