In many cases, numbers don't lie.
No. 14 UNLV (21-4 overall, 5-2 Mountain West) is at the mid-way point in conference play, and is heading into its biggest game of the season on Saturday at home against No. 13 San Diego State, with a chance to tie the Aztecs atop the Mountain West standings once again on the line.
There have been plenty of intangibles behind both UNLV's successes and its struggles in getting to this point, but here is a closer look at what is tangible — the numbers — for the team as a whole and some of the Rebels' key figures.
Mike Moser — A historic season on the glass
Many have been mesmerized by Moser's versatility, his ability to score from anywhere on the floor and his explosive, quick leaping ability.
He leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg), rebounding (11.5 rpg) and steals (1.8 spg). The UCLA transfer has proven to be as reliable as they come, with the only blemishes on his season numbers being that he leads the team in turnovers (72) and personal fouls (72) — both by a relatively decent margin.
But on the glass is without question where he's made the biggest impact in his first season of eligibility at UNLV.
Through 25 games, he has 288 rebounds, which is the most that a Rebel has posted in a single season since Odartey Blankson did so in 2003-04 — in an entire season. Moser is just 30 rebounds away from cracking the program's top 10 in single season rebounding totals, and will likely end up pretty high on that list. The highest single-season total in UNLV history was 457, posted by Larry Johnson in 1989-90, when the Rebels played 40 games en route to the school's first national title.
His 11.5 rpg average, if it holds, will be the program's highest since Kebu Stewart's 11.6 in 1993-94. At 11.5, Moser currently ranks third in the nation in rebounds per game, while checking in at 12th in double-doubles with 13 of them so far.
In the last two seasons, UNLV did not have a single player post more than 198 rebounds on the year, while Moser already has 208 defensive rebounds alone as a sophomore. That number tells more than anything, as his presence has helped the Rebels avoid getting chewed up by opponents piling up offensive rebounds and second-chance points, which was a significant issue the past few seasons.
Oscar Bellfield — The ideal veteran point guard
Outside of a shooting slump that lasted from early December to late January, the senior point guard has had a great year.
After hitting a series of clutch shots late in an overtime win at Boise State on Jan. 25, Bellfield is 17-of-33 from the floor in three games since then and 9-of-19 from long range, averaging 14.3 points per game.
What's been consistent throughout the year's first 25 games, though, is the execution of his point guard duties. Bellfield ranks first among Mountain West point guards in assists per game at 5.3, and he's second in that group in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.1.
It's been an interesting career curve for Bellfield, whose field goal percentage and averages in assists, assists-to-turnovers and points all dropped last season following a breakout sophomore campaign in 2009-10.
The key behind all of it this season has been his health, as this is the first time since his freshman year in which Bellfield hasn't had to battle a nagging injury this late in the season. In turn, all of those numbers have improved.
Also helping has been his ability to split point guard duties with junior Anthony Marshall, who ranks second among MWC point guards with 5.0 assists per game. Both Bellfield and Marshall rank among the top 70 nationally in that category.
Chace Stanback — Home sweet home
The theme for UNLV's senior forward this season is pretty simple: Great at home, but away from the Thomas & Mack Center, you just don't know what your'e going to get.
In 11 games at the Mack this season, Stanback's numbers are ridiculous. He's scoring 16.5 points per game, but shooting 56.5 percent from the floor and 58.2 percent from 3-point range.
The Rebels have played 13 games away from the Mack either in true road environments or on neutral floors. In those contests, his scoring average dips to 11.3 ppg, while he's shooting 39 percent overall and just 25.7 percent from deep.
But Stanback hasn't consistently struggled away from home. He was one of the only Rebels to help keep the team afloat in ugly road losses at Wisconsin and Wichita State, and turned in the signature performance of his UNLV career in a Nov. 26 upset of then-No. 1 North Carolina at the Orleans Arena, with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
But when he's struggled on the road, he's really struggled.
In a Dec. 17 win over Illinois in Chicago, he went without a field goal for the first time since Dec. 14, 2010. On Jan. 28, he made two clutch defensive plays in overtime that helped make up for a 1-of-10 shooting performance in an overtime win at Air Force. Then, last Saturday, he was 0-for-2 from the floor and scored just two points in a loss at Wyoming. In that game, he went without a 3-point field goal attempt for the first time since Jan. 6, 2010 — more than two full seasons. In four road Mountain West games this season, he's averaging just 6.5 points per outing.
UNLV still has two crucial road games remaining at New Mexico and at Colorado State, followed by who knows how many on neutral sites in the NCAA tournament, and Stanback will be needed in some form in all of them. But with Moser doing what he is and Anthony Marshall emerging, it's taken some pressure off of Stanback, allowing him to be more of a complementary piece rather than a go-to source for offense.
As far as some notable team and further individual numbers ...
• UNLV's 80 points per game rank 10th national.
• The Rebels are 36th in the nation in team field goal percentage at 47.4.
• Paced by Bellfield and Marshall, UNLV is third in the country in assists per game, averaging 18.3.
• UNLV's team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.36 has them tied for 13th nationally.
• UNLV is tied for 19th in the country in rebounds per game, averaging 39.2.
• The Rebels are 66th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting at a 36.9 percent clip, but they are 17th in 3-pointers made per game at 8.5.
• The team's inconsistent free throw shooting of late, which became a recurring theme starting with the MWC-opening loss at San Diego State, has them ranked 177th in the country in free throw percentage, at 68.6.
• One of UNLV's consistent defensive struggles has been defending the 3-point arc, where opponents are shooting 33.8 percent against the Rebels, ranking them 160th in the country.
• With 1,127 career points, Bellfield currently ranks 28th in school history, while with only two full seasons under his belt entering this year, Stanback is one spot behind him in 29th with 1,121 points. Both have a chance of finishing their careers in the Top 20 in program history.
• Carlos Lopez has been a model of offensive efficiency for UNLV this season off of the bench. Playing only 13.8 minutes per game, he's averaging seven points and shooting 70.9 percent from the floor.
• Anthony Marshall is the only player in the Mountain West averaging at least 11 points, four rebounds and four assists per game.
• UNLV is 13-0 at the Thomas & Mack Center, and even though it's competition overall so far has been tougher on the road and in neutral sites, the Rebels' offensive numbers are tough to ignore when on their home floor. At the Mack, they're shooting 51.9 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from deep this season.