La Verne Leopards vs. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Tip-off: Thursday, December 13, 2012 – 10:00 PM ET
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
While Quintrell Thomas’ late-game heroics assisted the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels sneak by their last rival, the No. 20 team won’t likely be in nearly as tight a battle tonight against Division III La Verne Leopards at Orleans Arena.
A week after trailing well into the second half of a 68-60 victory at Portland, the Rebels (7-1) got a huge scare Sunday versus the California Golden Bears. With his college basketball team moments away from losing, Thomas grabbed Anthony Marshall’s airball and hit a short hook shot with 1.2 seconds left to give UNLV a 76-75 win.
The senior forward Thomas has mostly come off the bench but YouWager experts believe he could be headed to the starting lineup. Junior forward Mike Moser, averaging 10.9 points and a team best-tying 8.3 rebounds, dislocated his right elbow during a scramble for a loose ball Sunday.
Thomas got his first start since his sophomore season in the victory at Portland with Moser sidelined by a hip injury. Thomas tied a season high with nine points in that game and could help fill Moser’s absence, averaging more rebounds per 40 minutes (13.3) than anyone on the roster.
With Moser expected to miss a significant period of time, the Rebels may need star freshman Anthony Bennett to shoulder even more of the scoring load. He’s averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 boards, including season highs of 25 and 13 against California.
Getting back to its stifling defensive ways could also help to overcome Moser’s void. The Rebels held opponents to 35.5 percent from the field over their first seven games before allowing Cal to shoot 52.8 percent and forcing a season-low 13 turnovers.
The Runnin’ Rebels now turns their attention to the Leopards (1-4), who have dropped all eight previous matchups in this series. Nevertheless, the schools haven’t met since 1965.
While UNLV won’t be on their usual home court tonight with this game being played at nearby Orleans Arena instead of the Thomas & Mack Center, the NCAA basketball point spread suggests they will still figure to give the Leopards all they can handle.