UNLV Men's Basketball 2014 Tournament Capsule

UNLV Rebels
Mountain West (20-13, 10-8)


UNLV had a great season in 2012-2013.  They reached the 25-win mark.  They were conference runners-up to New Mexico.  They boasted the No. 1 player in the draft in star forward Anthony Bennett.  The only downer was a quick tournament run.  They were bounced in the first round by California.  This season, the Rebels do not quite have the same gutty team that took the floor last year.  

Big Wins: 1/15 at New Mexico (76-73), 2/1 Boise State (73-69), 2/15 at Utah State (73-62)
Bad Losses: 1/4 Air Force (68-75), 1/8 Nevada (71-74), 2/5 at Colorado State (57-75)
Coach: Dave Rice (3 seasons at UNLV)

Why They Can Surprise:
This team is long, athletic, and built on defense.  They manhandle people underneath the basket.  They are top ten in the country in offensive and defensive rebounding.  That is impressive for one team.  They have four players that are 6’8” and taller.  That does not seem like very many.  They eat up basketballs though.  Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch are both averaging double figures in rebounding alone.  No loose ball is safe.  To that point, no inside shooters are safe either.  UNLV is third in the nation in blocked shots per game at 6.6.  That is a staggering number.  Birch averages 3.8 by himself.  The ability to find the ball coming out of shooters’ hands could mean everything in a game that goes down to the wire.  They have been holding teams under 70 points consistently all season.  Their defense may be the difference between last second heroics and an early trip home.

Why They Can Disappoint:
This is not the best shooting team in the land.  They have had trouble in that area all season.  They shoot under 44 percent.  Going cold from the floor in a one-and-done situation will do them no favors in any postseason tournament.  Outside of a seven game winning streak in the middle of the season, this team has not been a model of consistency.  They have been on a “win two-lose two” roller coaster for the last month of the season.  It is hard to predict which team will show up each night.  Also, they have not demonstrated that they can routinely match play with teams on par with them.  Other than a win on the road at New Mexico in January, they have not proven that they can beat anyone of consequence in an important game.  Also, they will need Roscoe Smith to return from his concussion for them to make any sort of run.  He is too valuable to them.

Probable Starters:
Bryce Dejean-Jones, Junior, Guard, 13.6 ppg, 3.0 apg
Kevin Olekaibe, Senior, Guard, 10.2 ppg, 2.1 apg
Deville Smith, Junior, Guard, 3.8 ppg, 1.5 apg
Khem Birch, Junior, Forward, 11.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.8 bpg
Roscoe Smith, Junior, Forward, 11.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Jelan Kendrick, Junior, Guard, 6.3 ppg
Christian Wood, Freshman, Forward, 4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.0 (150th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.7 (66, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.8 (195, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.2 (37, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (197, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.8 (231, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.7 (301, 10)
Rebound Margin: 3.6 (69, 6)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (124, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (66, 9)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013    NCAA    Second Round loss to California
2012    NCAA    Second Round loss to Colorado
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Illinois
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Northern Iowa
2009    NIT        First Round loss to Kentucky
2008    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Kent State
2008    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Kansas
2007    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Georgia Tech
2007    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Wisconsin
2007    NCAA    Regional Semifinal loss to Kansas

*all team stats through 3/9


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules