GAME NOTES: The UNLV Runnin' Rebels seek their sixth straight win when they take on the Cal State Fullerton Titans at the Thomas & Mack Center this evening.
UNLV enters tonight's contest having won five straight after defeating Mississippi State, 82-66, in the final of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena on Monday. Kevin Olekaibe scored 17 points, hitting 4-of-8 3-point attempts to pace UNLV, which hasn't lost since falling to top- ranked Arizona on Dec. 7. Develle Smith added 15 points and Roscoe Smith tallied 12 points and 12 boards for the Runnin' Rebels.
Smith leads the nation in rebounding average with 13.1 rpg, and he leads the team in scoring with 12.8 ppg. The junior has eight double-doubles this season and grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 10 of his 12 games. Junior forward Khem Birch is sixth in the country in blocked shots with 3.8 per contest and added 11.8 points and 9.3 boards per contest. He has had double-digit rebounding totals in six of his 12 games and has blocked at least four shots in a game six times. Junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones is second on the team in scoring at 11.9 ppg, while senior guard Kevin Olekaibe rounds out the double-figure scorers for the Runnin' Rebel with 10.5 ppg.
As a team, UNLV averages nearly 75 ppg and allows only 64 ppg. Opponents shoot only 39 percent from the floor and the Runnin' Rebels' size helps them hold a rebounding advantage on most nights.
The Titans are taking the court for the first time since defeating Sacramento State, 59-51, last Saturday. Alex Harris led Cal State Fullerton with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, knocking down 7-of-11 from the charity stripe. The Titans have won two in a row for the first time this season. Michael Williams poured in 10 points to record his 12th consecutive game in double figures.
Williams leads the Titans in scoring this season, averaging 15 ppg. The only other double-digit scorer for Fullerton is Harris, who average 13.1 ppg. The Titans score just 68 ppg and will have a monumental task against the bigger, more physical and talented UNLV squad.
Even though this will be the first meeting between these two schools since 1996, the Runnin' Rebels have dominated the series against the Titans, winning 32 of the previous 39 meetings. The Titans have defeated the Rebels just twice on the road in 16 tries. Fullerton's last victory in Las Vegas against UNLV was an 82-80 verdict on Dec. 17, 1994. Although many years have passed, don't expect the outcome of this one to be much different.
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