Kansas State at UNLV
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 10, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev., 4 p.m. EST.
After a successful debut as UNLV coach, T.J. Otzelberger's team faces a substantial upgrade in competition Saturday when Big 12 reigning champion Kansas State comes to Sin City to face the Runnin' Rebels.
K-State looking to fill gaps offensivelyKansas State's bid for a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance began Tuesday with a 67-54 victory over North Dakota State on Tuesday night. While Bruce Weber is looking for sources of offense to replace the departed trio of Dean Wade, Barry Brown Jr., and Kamau Stokes, the defense remains a constant as the Wildcats limited the Bison to 28.8 percent shooting.
Carter Diarra appears to be the primary candidate to fill some of that scoring void, to totaling 15 of his career-best 23 points in the second half to help Kansas State pull away. He also had six rebounds and six assists to partially offset shooting 8 for 21.
“I do take responsibility for that,” Diarra told The Mercury about taking over offensively in the final 20 minutes. “We weren’t making the easy plays. We were taking a lot of 3s. At halftime, we were 1-for-12 (on 3-pointers). I would like to say if the six ain’t falling, we need to dig deep and get in the paint, which was working.”
Senior forward Makol Mawien also stepped up with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his third career double-double. The forward averaged 7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds while starting all 34 games last season in helping K-State claim a share of the Big 12 title.
This is one of four non-conference road games for Kansas State, which will also play at Pittsburgh and 2019 NCAA Tournament teams Mississippi State and Saint Louis.
Rebels show offensive balance and proficiency in season debutAfter three seasons of .500 basketball under Marvin Menzies -- a late replacement after Chris Beard backed out to accept the Texas Tech job 11 days following his signing with UNLV -- the Rebels tabbed Otzelberger to help bring them back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
Otzelberger had guided South Dakota State to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and 70 wins in three seasons before coming to Las Vegas, and his debut could not have gone any better as the Rebels thumped Purdue-Fort Wayne 86-70 on Tuesday night.
First Win. First Celly. pic.twitter.com/M0fGnnBKVd— UNLV Men's Basketball (@TheRunninRebels) November 7, 2019
All five UNLV starters finished in double figures, paced by career highs of 17 points and 17 rebounds from Cheikh Mbacke Diong. Jonah Antonio also scored 17 points, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range, as the Rebels shot 51.9 percent and blasted the Mastodons off the glass by a 43-19 count.
“I was pleased with our guys in how they came out and prepared for this game,” Otzelberger told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Once it’s for real, it’s for real. I think our guys established in that first half who we can be defensively when we pressure the basketball, when we really guard and contest the 3-point line — they were 1-for-14 at half — and do a great job on the glass.”
Diong, a 6-foot-11 junior, had flashes last season averaging 6.9 points and 6.8 rebounds. He also blocked four shots while recording his second career double-double.
Otzelberger is stepping right into the fire in terms of the schedule. After this contest, the Rebels will embark on a two-game swing through California to face Pac-12 teams Cal and UCLA next week.
"We know we’ve got a stretch here of some really good teams. Kansas State is the only one that really matters right now because they’re the one coming up on Saturday," Otzelberger said.
“They’ve been at the top of the Big 12 Conference … which I think is one of the best, if not best, leagues in the country. … We’ve got to get back to the practice floor. We’ve got to be competitive and fight. It’s going to be a really tough game come Saturday.”
- 6-1-1 ATS in its last eight games as a favorite.
- 5-1 ATS in its last six road games.
- 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games following an ATS win.
- 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following a straight up win.
- 1-6 ATS in its last seven games vs. above-.500 teams.