The Utah State Aggies got an attack of poor shooting on Monday night, and suffered their second straight defeat, losing to the UNLV Rebels. They have an opportunity to redeem themselves on Wednesday night, and as is the custom in the Mountain West Conference this season, it is at the same location as they pair up two games at a time between opponents to cut down on travel.
UTAH STATE AGGIES at UNLV REBELS, 11 p.m. Eastern (FS1)
College Basketball Odds: Utah State -7, Total 136.5
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Obviously Monday's game did not go the way Utah state had planned, coming off their loss to Colorado State. They made only five triples and shot just 33% from the field overall. They seemed a little flat, and turned on the intensity of it too late. Trailing by nine points with only 1:08 remaining, they started one last desperate run, and could have actually tied the game at the buzzer, but Steven Ashworth's three-pointer came up empty.
Meanwhile, UNLV hit more triples (13) then any other game this season.
Perhaps the Rebels will have to hold Utah State to a low score again. In the 59 - 56 loss, the Aggies hit their season low. and it was probably a low point in the season as well.
So what can Craig Smith do to get something extra out of his troops?
Maybe they just have to play their game - the same one that produced an 11-game winning streak up until recently, with some huge margins. It's not easy to beat San Diego State twice in a row, but these Aggies did it.
For one thing, Utah State can continue to dominate on the glass. If you take a look at the nationwide statistics, they are 22nd in offensive rebounding percentage, and 5th in defensive rebounding percentage. They did pull down thirteen offensive boards against UNLV, and their defense is such that we really do not expect that the Rebels will be very successful if they come into the short range and mid-range situations. When you have defended the way Utah State has, surrendering just 41.5% from inside the three-point arc, and on top of that sweep the boards after a miss, you are going to push teams to shoot from the outside.
UNLV does not really have to be pushed, as they take 47% of their field goal attempts from downtown anyway. So what this comes down to is that they have to be very sharp from the outside. And at 35%, which isn't much higher than the national average, but is their percentage for the season to date, it's not likely to be enough to get it done.
It’s funny that a writer from the Review-Journal out in Las Vegas made mention that UNLV’s current five-game winning streak was highlighted by great defense. He neglected to mention that two of those opponents were St Catharines and Benedictine Mesa, schools that frankly, we've never heard of.
We should make it clear - UNLV needs for Utah State to get flat again to win this game. And coach TJ Otzelberger may not be able to come up with a “Plan B” to combat the Aggies when they start working the inside. After all, they are the ones who have the 7-footer who PLAYS like a seven footer. Neemias Queta, the Portuguese import, is a major league shot blocker (tops in the Mountain West) who is much more accurate from the field than he showed on Monday. we're looking for a reversal there.
But we are not necessarily looking for much of a reversal of UNLV's ineptitude when they step inside the three-point line. They only made 7 of 31 attempts on Monday, which comes to 22.6%. if this is indeed an angry squad coming out for the Aggies, they might make it look easy. So we are most definitely laying the points here.
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