The Rebels’ tougest test of the season to date comes on Sunday, when they take on a 6-1 Cal team that is looking to make a statement. Cal is projected as one of the top teams in the Pac-12 and a likely NCAA tournament team, but the Golden Bears are coming off a humbling loss at Wisconsin. They figure to come out firing, so UNLV can’t afford a slow start like they put forth in Portland.
UNLV is already 0-1 against the Pac-12 this season after losing to Oregon in the Global Sports Classic, so this game represents a chance for the Rebels to prove they’re up to the challenge of a quality power-conference opponent. Can they pull out their best win of the season? Let’s examine some key numbers that could determine the outcome.
Over/Under: 23.5 minutes for Moser
Mike Moser has hit the 24-minute mark in every game this season, save for the Portland game. Moser missed that contest with a strained left hip, but he practiced on Saturday and coach Dave Rice said he’ll be good to go for Cal. But how effective can he be? Saturday’s practice was closed to the media, but Moser was a limited participant in Friday’s session and seemed to be moving well. I don’t think we’ll see him put up a 15-15 line, but I think he’ll see a somewhat normal workload. Pencil him in for 24-25 minutes and the OVER.
Over/Under: 41.5 combined points for Crabbe and Cobbs
Aside from Mike Moser’s status, slowing down the Cal backcourt duo of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs will be the biggest key to this game, and the Rebels appear to match up well here. Crabbe (22.4 points per game) and Cobb (18.7) are sharpshooters who can put up points in a hurry, but UNLV has one of the country’s best defensive backcourts when Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins are on the floor together. Marshall has held his matchups to 27.1 percent shooting this season, while opposing players are shooting just 34.5 percent against Hawkins. “I feel like if we can contain them, we’ll be alright,” said Marshall. Still, Cal’s entire offense is based around getting these guys open by any means necessary. Even the best defenders can only run through so many screens before they start to slip. No matter how many shots it may take, Crabbe and Cobbs are going OVER.
Over/Under: 15.5 fast break points for UNLV
All signs point to the UNDER. The Rebels’ transition game has been inconsistent, and a potentially less-than-full-strength Moser probably won’t help matters on Sunday. Cal also does a decent job of taking care of the ball (15 turnovers per game), so don’t look for turnovers to spark the fast break. I expect a fairly high-scoring game with lot of possessions, as both teams prefer early offense, but I don’t see a lot of transition points.
Over/Under: 9.5 points for Dejean-Jones
The last time Bryce Dejean-Jones scored in double digits was against Oregon (11 points). In the four games since then, he’s put up, in order, 9, 3, 2 and 2 points. It just hasn’t quite clicked for BDJ yet. He appeared to rush some early shots against Portland and never got in a rhythm. Rhythm is important for Dejean-Jones, who plays the game at a smooth pace. If he can knock down a jumper early, I like his chances to settle in and give the Rebels double figures. He figures to have some good matchups against Cal, especially if he can get inside and get into his mid-range jumper. I’ll take the optimistic OVER.
Over/Under: 20.5 points for Bennett
I don’t think Cal has anyone who can hope to slow down Anthony Bennett. Even if they run doubles at him, the Rebels are good at kicking the ball out, moving it around and finding the open man before the defense can recover. If they’re patient, the Rebs should be able to get it back to Bennett in an even better position to score. I think he’s good for a mid-20s performance on Sunday, which would top his career high (22, three times). Go OVER.
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