GAME NOTES: The UNLV Runnin' Rebels open up play in the Las Vegas Classic on Wednesday evening, as they welcome the Radford Highlanders to the Thomas & Mack Center.
Mike Jones' Highlanders come into this game sporting a 6-3 record overall. Radford was on the hardwood two days ago, dropping a 75-62 decision at Santa Clara in regional action of this event. The Highlanders are no strangers to the road this season, as five of their nine games have been played in hostile territory.
Dave Rice's Runnin' Rebels are treading water as the calendar year winds down. UNLV is an even 4-4 on the season, but has won two of its last three games, including blasting Southern Utah last weekend (73-51) on the road.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
R.J. Price led three Highlanders in double figures, posting 16 points, but it wasn't enough as Radford fell to Santa Clara on Monday by 13 points. Javonte Green and Brandon Holcomb added 12 and 10 points, respectively, but the Highlanders overall shot a dismal .386 from the floor, while the hometown Broncos connected on a cool 50 percent.
On the season, Radford has been much more reliable on the offensive end, averaging a solid 78.2 ppg, on .475 shooting. Green headlines the play in the frontcourt, as the 6-foot-4 junior plays much bigger, knocking down 55.7 percent of his shots. He leads the team in both scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg). Rice (13.2 ppg) and Ya Ya Anderson (11.9 ppg) round out the top scoring threats for Radford and have combined for 45 of the team's 63 3-pointers to date.
Roscoe Smith recorded his fifth double-double of the season, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds, as UNLV made light work of Southern Utah last weekend on the road. Jelan Kendrick tied Smith for team-high honors in scoring with 12 points of his own. while Kevin Olekaibe and Bryce Dejean-Jones chipped in with 11 points each.
Dejean-Jones leads the Rebels in scoring at 13.0 ppg, but the one-two combo of the 6-foot-8 Smith and 6-foot-9 Khem Birch in the frontcourt is what fuels the UNLV attack. Smith is averaging a double-double with 12.3 points and a nation's best 14.1 rebounds per game. Birch is almost there as well, netting 10.6 points and grabbing 9.8 rebounds per outing. Olekaibe can also fill up the net at 11.6 ppg and is the team's top 3-point threat (22 treys on the season).
The Highlanders have played well this season, but their frontline is rather small and that could present a real problem against Smith and Birch in this one.
Game Date and Time