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UNLV vs. Fresno State Preview: Rebels Face Must-Win

UNLV is on a two-game losing streak. However, just a little over a week ago, they looked formidable. Now, they face a must-win situation at Fresno State Saturday afternoon.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

The Fresno State Bulldogs and UNLV Runnin' Rebels square off in Fresno for their second match-up of the conference season. In the first meeting, Fresno State came away with a surprising victory over the Rebels 69-66.  UNLV will be looking to break even in the season series by taking on the Dogs at home.

However, Fresno has the better overall and conference record compared to the Runnin' Rebs.  Fresno State is 14-8 and 5-4 in conference.  Currently fourth in the Mountain West conference, the Bulldogs are looking to keep pace for perhaps a share of the MW regular season title.

And perhaps moving out of contention for the regular season title, the Rebels are a team continuing to transform as they learn to play without their impactful forward, Ben Carter, who suffered a torn ACL a week ago against SDSU.

UNLV is 13-10 and 4-6 in conference, and despite keeping it close at the Pit against New Mexico in their last game, the Rebels continue to struggle making perplexing offensive decisions in close-game situations.

The Rebels are clearly the squad who need this win more, but both teams will be playing desperate-basketball since both are trying to contend for positions yet to be determined in the MWC tourney in March. UNLV has struggled on the road, and with limited bench contributions (exacerbated by the loss of Carter), the Rebels starting 5 will need to find ways to extend and maintain leads for the majority of the game.

After a disheartening loss in New Mexico, the Rebels should be able to muster a victory against the Bulldogs. However, it will likely be a close one - and as time has proven - that doesn't always bode well for UNLV.  With that said, this is a must-win for the Rebels.

Prediction: UNLV 70, Fresno State 68

*As an addition to this original piece, UNLV Basketball has announced today that Daquan Cook, junior guard, has been dismissed from the team.  The only comments released come from Interim Coach Todd Simon who states: "We appreciate all that Daquan contributed while a member of our team... He is on track to graduate this spring and we will continue to support him."