The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels have lost four of their last five games heading into a road date with the Air Force Falcons at the Thomas & Mack Center on Tuesday night. UNLV dropped three in a row, defeated Boise State, and then fell to Fresno State this past Saturday. The Falcons halted a two-game skid by beating Wyoming last Wednesday.
Let’s do something different
Air Force’s road struggles are plain to see. The Falcons are in the midst of a laughable 3-33 rut away from home in Mountain West Conference competition, with their only wins during this stretch of futility coming against lowly San Diego State (twice) and a Colorado State team that was just beginning a 1-12 season-ending slide. But there is ample reason to be encouraged about Air Force’s chances on Tuesday. The Falcons clobbered UNLV by 18 points less than a month ago and the Runnin’ Rebels have not displayed any signs of improvement.
“Let’s go do something here different,” said head coach Dave Pilipovich, whose teams have lost six straight road contest at UNLV but three of the last four have come in overtime. “Let’s go get UNLV at (their) home.”
Moreover, the Falcons have at least enjoyed some success in the Thomas & Mack Center during Mountain West Conference Tournament action. Lavelle Scottie has already played five games in Las Vegas, scoring 62 total points.
“The goal is to have a winning season,” Scottie said. “Our short-term goal is to get that win at UNLV.”
Freshmen not yet finding form
Bryce Hamilton and Trey Woodbury were the headliners of UNLV’s recruiting class, four-star prospects expected to make an instant impact this season. But they have not delivered the goods on any kind of consistent basis, instead of watching walk-on Marvin Coleman and other freshmen getting more playing time in crucial moments. Hamilton is eighth on the team in scoring and Hamilton is 12th.
“The most important thing about those two, I think, is their buy-in and their understanding that it is a process,” head coach Marvin Menzies noted. “I’m sure their expectations were a lot higher. We told them exactly how things were going to be when we recruited them and what they were going to have to do to be successful to get on the floor, earn minutes, things of that nature. To their credit, when things didn’t go exactly their way, they persevered through it.”
PREVIEW: Runnin' Rebels Host @AF_MBB Tuesday Night 🏀 7:30 p.m. game at @ThomasAndMack is part of Coaching for Literacy’s Fight for Literacy Games initiative 📰: https://t.co/br3MYpUNIM #BEaREBEL #UNLVmbb pic.twitter.com/VYMPgu6lOW
— UNLV Men's Basketball (@TheRunninRebels) February 12, 2019
Hamilton, a 6’4” guard, has at least gotten more minutes of late; 36 minutes over the past two games after receiving a total of 35 total in the previous four. He has shown glimpses of what made him a prized prospect, making all three of his three-point attempts and scoring 16 points against UC Riverside to go along with 12 against San Jose State. Woodbury, also a 6’4” guard, suffered a knee injury in the preseason. He did not make his first basket until Christmas Day against Bucknell. Woodbury has logged double-digit minutes only once over the past five games.
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five overall
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games
- 13-38-4 ATS in their last 55 games against the Mountain West Conference
The Air Force Falcons are:
- 5-1 ATS in their last six games against teams with winning records
- 8-0 ATS in their last eight games against UNLV
- 4-0 ATS in their last four road games against UNLV
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Continue to monitor the status of Air Force sophomore forward Ameka Akaya (knee), but it looks like he could return for the first time since getting injured on Jan. 30 against San Diego State. Akaya, who scored 10 points in the previous win over UNLV, is the Falcons’ best shooter at 61.9 percent. “Hopefully he’ll be good to go,” Pilipovich said. UNLV is mired in a considerable slump, having lost four of five with each loss coming by at least 17 points. Air Force is and 4-0 ATS in its last four trips to UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels are 5-13 ATS in their last 18 against losing opponents and 0-8 ATS in the last eight meetings between the two teams.
Prediction: Air Force Falcons
Full-Game Total Pick
The Falcons poured in a program-record 106 points when they abused UNLV at home last month. Hamilton has started to earn more minutes for UNLV, but he is a defensive liability to offset his sweet shooting. The over is 10-1 in the Falcons’ last 11 against winning opponents. It is also 9-4 in the Runnin’ Rebels’ last 13 overall, 7-1 in their last eight following a loss, 10-2 in their last 12 against losing opponents, and 17-7 in their last 24 at home against opponents with losing road records. Additionally, the over is 11-2 in the last 13 meetings between the two teams and 6-1 in Air Force’s last seven trips to UNLV. Look for this one to go over the total.