After taking care of business on opening night to the tune of a 92-54 win over Northern Arizona, the Rebels go into Saturday’s tilt against Jacksonville State feeling pretty good about themselves. And that could be a trap.
The last time the Rebels felt good about themselves, they came out sluggish in the Dixie State exhibition and had to turn it on at the end to pull out a 1-point overtime victory. They were re-focused against NAU, and they’ll need that type of intensity against Jax State in order to avoid getting caught in another upset bid.
Here are five key Over/Under numbers to watch as the Rebels attempt to move to 2-0. (Note: These lines are set by me. For entertainment purposes only.)
Over/Under: 14.5 points for Mike Moser
Moser scored just two points on opening night, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He contributed on the boards (11 rebounds) and with his passing ability (four assists), but the Rebels are going to need him to score eventually. Like NAU, Jacksonville State is undersized, so Moser should have an advantage around the basket. If he’s assertive in the paint, he should go OVER on this one.
Over/Under: 3.5 turnovers for Bryce Dejean-Jones
Jones was a pleasant surprise on opening night, as he dropped 15 points in just 20 minutes off the bench. He didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger when he was open, and he knocked down his outside shots (5-of-7 for the game). That was enough for Dave Rice to slide him into the starting lineup for this game. Dejean-Jones is still recovering from a broken hand, however, and the rust was apparent in his six turnovers against NAU. If he tightens his handle and takes care of the ball, he’ll make the Rebels’ offense that much more potent. I think Dejean-Jones will go OVER here, but he’ll get better in this category as his hand gets closer to 100 percent.
Over/Under: 25.5 3-pointers attempted by UNLV
Last game, this line was set at 21.5 (by me). The Rebs ended up hoisting 27, and that’s why I’m not a real linesmaker. Jacksonville State’s size limitations are similar to NAU, so expect another wide-open shooting gallery from the Rebels. They’ll work the ball inside, force the defense to collapse, then kick it out to shoot OVER 25.5 3-pointers. The addition of Dejean-Jones to the starting lineup also makes me feel good about taking the over.
Over/Under: 18.5 turnovers forced by the UNLV defense
The Rebels harassed Northern Arizona into 18 turnovers, and those takeaways helped fuel the UNLV transition game (21 fast break points). The defense certainly looked more cohesive than against Dixie State, so more improvement could lead to more turnovers. But Jacksonville State plays a guard-heavy rotation, and Rice praised their abilty to run the offense off the dribble. I think they’ll take better care of it than NAU, ultimately staying UNDER the line on this one.
Over/Under: 10.5 rebounds for Anthony Bennett
Even though UNLV dominated the boards against NAU (47-21), Rice wants to see improved technique from his big men when it comes to blocking out. As long as Bennett is the starting center, he’ll need to bring his lunch pail and his hard hat and go to work on the glass. If he can control defensive rebounds, it allows the Rebels to get out in transition more frequently, and that’s the way they want to play. Bennett pulled down seven boards against NAU, and that was with the Lumberjacks shooting just 25.0 percent. It’s going to be tight, but I think A.B. finishes with 11, which is just enough to put him OVER.
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