UNLV vs New Mexico
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2020 UNLV vs Kansas State Men’s Basketball Preview

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UNLV (0-4) vs. Kansas State (1-2)

 

The Runnin’ Rebels look to get their first win of the season on Saturday.

 

UNLV and Kansas State happen to be nearly identical in its start to the men’s basketball season. UNLV has gotten off to a slow start in head coach T.J. Otzelberger’s second season in charge as they enter the game with an 0-4 record. The Wildcats, however, also happen to a slow starter in this truncated 2020-21 basketball season. The Wildcats got their first win last time on the hardwood against the University of Missouri-Kansas City after losing their first two games of the season.

 

UNLV looks to build off of the Maui Invitational

 

UNLV vs Kansas State
Photo Credit: Mountain West Connection

How did the Runnin’ Rebels get here? UNLV had a disappointing loss to start the season at home against Montana State which the former entered the game as the heavy favorites against the latter. They then followed it with a trip to the Maui Invitational, in which they dropped three straight losses. The Runnin’ Rebels got blown out by No. 14 North Carolina on Monday 78-51, followed by back-to-back hard-fought losses to Alabama and Davidson by scores of 86-74 and 77-73, respectively. Against the Wildcats, UNLV managed to outscore Davidson 44-36 in the second half but still fell.

Even in an 0-4 start, not all is negative in Sin City. Bryce Hamilton has continued his scoring surge from the second half of last season into this season as he is leading the Runnin’ Rebels scoring 21.5 points per game. Hamilton scored 27 on Wednesday night against Davidson. Another bright spot is sophomore guard Caleb Grill, averaging 14 points per game to start the season. He led all scorers with 27 in the loss against Alabama.

For Kansas State, they started the season with two disappointing performances themselves: Back-to-back losses to Drake and Colorado. Their lone win was the 4- point 62-58 win against the Kangaroos of the Summit LeagueKansas State has had an early struggle on the offensive side ball so far, averaging 63.3 points per game but shooting 39.3% from behind the arc. Their scoring has been equally spread out amongst their team. Freshman guard Nigel Pack had a career high 14 points against the ‘Roos. Guard Mike McGuirl leads the team with 12.3 points per game. The guards are joined by 6-foot-4 DaJuan Gordon, who averages 7 rebounds a game in the brief season so far and dropped 15 and 14 points against Drake and UMKC, respectively.

 

A fast start may be the difference maker in this game for both sides.

 

UNLV vs Kansas State
Photo Credit: Daily Tar Heel

This has the potential to be a high scoring game if the Wildcat offense can stay consistent. For UNLV, the defense has been the early struggle for this team. They have allowed more than 75 points each game so far this season. Granted, they have played tough competition. But the 75 is a number that UNLV will want to decrease. Getting off to a fast start will be important in this game.

Kansas State got off to a quick start last time out and was able to hold on all the way through the final minutes. It was the opposite for the Runnin’ Rebels’ last game as they had a slow start, allowing 41 first half points and falling behind by double digits early on. Kansas State has the much taller, better defensive team than UNLV on paper, but the Runnin’ Rebels will look to force turnovers on the defensive end, leading to fast break points.

UNLV will look to keep playing better and better and get the result they want as the first win of their season, while Kansas State looks to win their second game in a row.

 

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels travel to play Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday at 5:00 on the Big 12 Network and ESPN+.  

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-Jarret Thompson – Franchise Sports Media

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