What do we know about La Verne? Enough to realize that Thursday's matchup at the Orleans Arena is little more than a mid-season tuneup.
No offense to the fine students, faculty and administrators of La Verne, but don't expect much of a challenge from the Leopards. La Verne is a Division III school that has MIT and Cal-Tech on the schedule, so while they may be able to best the Rebels in a robotics competition, I doubt they have a formula for stopping Anthony Bennett.
But there will still be plenty of reasons to watch on Thursday. The Rebels will be tinkering with new rotations now that Mike Moser is out for a month, and they'll also be introducing a new player into the mix. Let's examine the key numbers with an Over/Under column.
Over/Under: 6.5 minutes for Daquan Cook
It's already been an eventful season for Cook, and the freshman hasn't even played a single minute yet. After looking promising during preseason practice, it was announced that Cook would redshirt this year. But a few games into the season, he began dressing for games as injury insurance. Then his redshirt was lifted entirely, and Dave Rice said Cook will definitely see his first action on Thursday against La Verne. I think there's room for Cook to make a mark on this squad, especially when Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt sit at the same time. Cook is a natural distributor and I think he'll be able to run the offense. This is the ideal situation to get his feet wet, as the Rebels figure to run away with this game. Cook goes OVER 6.5 minutes and makes at least one pass that gets the crowd buzzing.
Over/Under: 12.5 points for Katin Reinhardt
I don't want to take credit for predicting Bryce Dejean-Jones's breakout game at Cal, but then again I do. And Reinhardt could be next in line for an offensive explosion. Reinhardt struggled with his shot on the road last week, shooting a combined 3-17 against Portland and Cal and scoring just seven points, but I like the way he's remained aggressive in practice. The Rebels should be able to get out in the open court against La Verne, and Reinhardt has been one of the team's most effective players in transition. He should be good for the OVER.
Over/Under: 19.5 points for Bryce Dejean-Jones
Speaking of BDJ, how is he going to follow up his best game of the season? His 22 points in 25 minutes were a huge reason the Rebels walked out of Cal with a win, but he probably won't have to produce like than in order for UNLV to handle La Verne. With Cook working into the rotation, and the Rebels possibly enjoying a big lead in the second half, I just don't think Dejean-Jones will play enough to put up a second-straight 20-point game. I'm going UNDER, based solely on projected playing time.
Over/Under: 23.5 turnovers for La Verne
The Leopards average 16.4 turnovers per game, and you've gotta think the Rebels have a better defense than Whittier or Pomona-Pitzer (two teams that have beaten La Verne this season). But 24 turnovers would still be impressive. UNLV played some zone defense in the second half against Cal, and they forced several turnovers out of that set. Will we see more tinkering against La Verne? Maybe, but this line is just too high for me. UNDER.
Over/Under: 87.5 points for UNLV
UNLV has topped this mark once this season, scoring 92 in an opening night win over Northern Arizona. But the Rebels haven't topped 80 in any of their last three games, making this line a little bit tricky. How long will they keep their foot on the peddle, assuming this turns into a blowout? And how much firepower has been lost with Moser's injury? Just to be safe, I'm taking the UNDER. I think the second unit will see a lot of time in the second half, and the Rebels will fall just shy.
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