UNLV’s road struggles may have cost it a chance at winning the Mountain West Conference regular-season title, but its outstanding play at home gives it good reason to remain confident.
The 17th-ranked Runnin’ Rebels will try to finish 16-0 at the Thomas & Mack Center when they take on Wyoming on Saturday night.
UNLV (24-7, 8-5) enters the final weekend of the regular season one game behind New Mexico and No. 21 San Diego State in the MWC. The Aztecs close at TCU while the Lobos finish at home against Boise State.
If the three teams are tied at the end of the weekend, the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament would be awarded to the squad that has the best head-to-head record against the next best team in the standings.
Head-to-head matchups between the three tied teams would not matter since they all finished 1-1 against each another.
While UNLV needs some help to clinch the No. 1 seed, it already has one big advantage as the conference tournament is being played at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNLV will be trying to bounce back Saturday after falling 66-59 at Colorado State on Wednesday. The Rebels lost their fourth straight on the road, shooting 39.3 percent.
UNLV was ahead 47-31 in the second half but was outscored 35-12 the rest of the way. The Rebels shot 27.3 percent in the second half, with Oscar Bellfield scoring just three of his 17 points.
Mike Moser and Chace Stanback, who average a combined 27.3 points, scored five and nine, respectively.
“Embarrassed, angry, disappointed,” said Anthony Marshall, who finished with 11 points.
“That’s something I’ll use as motivation and try not to let it happen again,” he said. “When you’ve got a big target on your back like we do, it happens. They played great the second half.”
While Stanback and his teammates have struggled on the road, they’ve been outstanding at home. Stanback is averaging 16.1 points on 54.4 percent shooting at home - almost seven more points per game than he’s averaging on the road.
Stanback was held to two points and one rebound in a 68-66 loss at Wyoming on Feb. 4 after averaging 15.3 points and 7.8 boards in the four prior meetings.
The Cowboys (20-9, 6-7) are looking to win their third straight after defeating TCU 71-59 on Tuesday.
Leonard Washington had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Wyoming, which made 13 of its first 17 shots to go up 29-15. Francisco Cruz had 19 points and Adam Waddell added 14.
“I thought our defense was terrific down the stretch,” coach Larry Shyatt said. “It was the first time in a quite a while that we were able to reach all of our defensive goals—holding our opponent under 55 points, holding them under 40 percent shooting from the field and under 30 percent from 3.”
Wyoming is the top defensive team in the MWC, giving up 54.8 points per game, but it ranks seventh offensively with an average of 63.4 points.
Washington, who leads the Cowboys with 12.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, has averaged 19.0 and 11.5 in the last two. He had 16 points and seven rebounds against the Rebels last month.
Wyoming has lost eight straight on the road in this series.