NEW HOOPS PREVIEW: UNLV vs Robert Morris - Game 13

NCAA Basketball Preview: UNLV vs Robert Morris

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Runnin’ Rebels (4-8, 1-0) | Robert Morris Colonials (4-8, 0-0)

 

Coming off a tough loss to Pacific, UNLV head coach TJ Otzelberger and company will now have to shift their focus on to Robert Morris of the Northeastern Conference. 

 

The Colonials are coached by Andrew Toole, who is now in his tenth season at the helm. In his nine previous seasons as head coach, Robert Morris has won two NEC regular-season championships and made an appearance in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The team is led in scoring by redshirt senior Josh Williams, who is averaging 13.7 points per game. Like UNLV, the Colonials are also struggling early on in the season with an identical 4-8 record, and just a few games left before they enter conference play although they are coming into this matchup riding a two-game winning streak.

This game will be the second of the Runnin’ Rebels’ current five-game homestand at the Thomas & Mack Center. The next game against Eastern Michigan will be their final non-conference game of the season. They will then continue conference play against the defending Mountain West Conference Champions Utah State on Jan. 1.

UNLV currently has four players averaging double figures in scoring. Junior guard and team co-captain Amauri Hardy leads the way with 17.1 points per game. Senior guard and other team co-captain Elijah Mitrou-Long, junior forward Donnie Tillman, and sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton are the other three. Despite being second in scoring for the team, Mitrou-Long is currently out after breaking his left thumb. He missed the last three games and will be out for another 4-5 weeks. Junior guard Jonah Antonio just returned to the rotation in the last game against Pacific after missing the previous six games due to a left-hand injury.

 

Also, in that last game, Hamilton and Tillman received a decrease in minutes due to breaking team rules. It remains to be seen if they will still be punished or return to their usual minutes.

 

Nothing could go right for the Runnin’ Rebels on either side of the ball in their last game vs. Pacific,. We will have to wait and see what the team fixed in practice to prepare for Saturday’s game. Otzelberger stated that the first thing the team would be working on was rebounding, getting on the floor, and fighting for loose balls. He said that his team got outworked, outplayed, and he seemed disappointed in his players’ efforts.

The offense continues to be a problem for this team, as they struggle to find a flow and repeatedly have to force up bad shots late in the shot clock. Having multiple players averaging in double figures is good, but it hasn’t translated into wins. By the end of the Pacific game, only three players had more than 10 points, but it was senior forward Nick Blair, who led the team in scoring.

Mbacke Diong is a key player who rebounds with ease but has had trouble scoring this seasonAs a starter, he needs to put the ball in the basket more often. It all starts with his aggressiveness. He has to be a force when he is under the basket. This team would be so much more successful if he grew out of his gentle giant phase.

 

The Runnin’ Rebels will face Robert Morris on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 12pm, inside the Thomas & Mack Center. The game can be streamed live on unlvrebels.com or the Mountain West Network. You can listen to the game live on ESPN Radio 1100 AM in Las Vegas and online on the UNLV Gameday app or TuneIn.

 

Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24

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