BYU COUGARS (14-1)
at UNLV REBELS (12-2)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 10:00 p.m. EDT
Line: UNLV -3.5, Total: 145
BYU hopes to end an eight-game losing streak at UNLV when it visits the Runnin’ Rebels on Wednesday night in the MWC opener for both teams. The Cougars have lost the last eight games at the Thomas & Mack Center, dating back to 2005, and that includes three setbacks in the conference tournament. Odds.
BYU ranks ninth in the nation in offense (83.9 PPG) and are led by the explosive Jimmer Fredette, who scores 24.1 PPG and shoots 37.5% from long range. Fredette has scored in double-digits in every game this season and had 13 points in 22 minutes against Fresno Pacific on Saturday, a 93-57 BYU rout. But he hasn’t lived up to his own lofty standards versus UNLV, as he’s been limited to 14.9 PPG on 35.6% shooting in eight career meetings with the Rebels. Jackson Emery is second on the Cougars in scoring with 11.8 PPG, while Brandon Davies chips in with 10.9 PPG and 5.2 RPG. BYU’s only loss this season came against UCLA, 86-79, on Dec. 18 at the Wooden Classic, but since that setback, it has won four straight games. Scores.
Meanwhile, UNLV has rebounded from consecutive losses at Louisville, 77-69, and at home to UC Santa Barbara, 68-62, with three straight victories, including a 63-59 win over Kansas State on Dec. 21. Chace Stanback leads the Runnin’ Rebels in scoring with 12.5 PPG, but he’s struggled with his shot recently. Stanback is 14-for-44 (31.8%) from the field in his past five games and has failed to score in double-figures in three consecutive games and four of the last five. Oscar Bellfield averages 11.6 PPG and 4.3 APG, while Tre’Von Willis scores 11.3 PPG and has hit double-digits in scoring in six of his past seven games. He also likes to face BYU, as he’s averaged 19.6 PPG in five career meetings against the Cougars.
Last season, the two teams met three times with UNLV holding a 2-1 advantage. The Cougars won at home, 77-73 on Jan. 6, but they lost the rematch in Vegas, 88-74, on Feb. 6, thanks to Willis’ 33 points. BYU also dropped a 70-66 decision to the Runnin’ Rebels in the MWC semifinals, despite Fredette’s 30 points.
UNLV has held eight of its 14 opponents below 60 points, but that won’t be an easy task against BYU’s high-scoring offense, which has not been held under 72 points all season. The Cougars have dropped seven straight to Top 25 teams. Their last win over a ranked squad came in a 78-76 victory over then-No. 6 Louisville on Nov. 23, 2007. BYU last won at UNLV on Feb. 5, 2005, when it claimed an 82-72 overtime victory. But the Rebels don’t lose at home very often. UNLV is 35-5 at home in regular-season conference games since the 2005-06 season. The home-court edge should make the difference on Wednesday night versus BYU.
The Rebels are 16-7 ATS versus BYU, including 9-3 ATS at home since 2001. These two highly-rated FoxSheets trends like UNLV to win and cover the spread again on Wednesday.
Lon Kruger is 50-20 ATS (71.4%, +28.0 Units) after covering 2 of their last 3 against the spread as the coach of UNLV. The average score was UNLV 73.1, OPPONENT 65.0 – (Rating = 4*).
Play On – A favorite (UNLV) – a good offensive team (74-78 PPG) against a good defensive team (63-67 PPG), after allowing 55 points or less. (89-42 over the last 5 seasons.) (67.9%, +42.8 units. Rating = 3*).
This four-star FoxSheets rating predicts the game will finish Over the Total. Las Vegas odds.
BYU is 15-2 OVER (88.2%, +12.8 Units) after a blowout win by 20 points or more over the last 2 seasons. The average score was BYU 87.2, OPPONENT 70.9 – (Rating = 4*).