Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
Big story here is suspensions. San Diego stud center Gyno Pomare (14.1ppg, 7.4rpg) and point guard Trumaine Johnson (5.7ppg, 2.7apg) will be sorely missed and backup forward Clinton Houston (1.1ppg), who became a key backup by the end of last year (played 25 minutes v UCONN) is suspended as well. In addition, sophomore guard De'Jon Jackson (7.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.3apg) who we last saw burying a clutch shot to upset UCONN in the tournament will most likely miss this game with a knee injury.
Pomare's absence will be well documented, but Trumaine Johnson may be just as missed. Last year The Torreros really took off when Trumaine Johnson was made the full time point guard. USD will have two starters from last year in the lineup in Brandon Johnson (16.9ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.5apg) and Rob Jones (9.0ppg, 5.8rpg) but will start a former walk-on in sophomore guard Devin Ginty, and two newcomers in JUCO transfers Matt Dorr and Robert Mafra. This short handed USD team only beat Cal State Los Angeles in their exhibition game 71-67.
UNLV also struggled in their exhibition against Washburn (Topeka Kansas), but Lon Kruger is a long time friend of Washburn coach Bob Chipman. Kruger's team played sloppy in the exhibition actually turning the ball over 23 times, which is very uncharacteristic for a Kruger team. However, Kruger said the film would be a great teaching tool for his team.
USD will be thin up front with out Pomare, and UNLV now has more rebounding strength with some players that can play in the post after lacking big men inside last year. Beas Hamga is a touted 7-foot freshman that is raw but will be a strength on the defensive boards, while redshirt freshman Brice Massamba is another big body at 6-10, 255lbs that Kruger was able to add from the JC ranks. Top guard and All-Conference performer Wink Adams provides scoring (16.9ppg) and senior leadership while the Rebels turn over the point guard duties to freshman Oscar Bellfield from Los Angeles and Memphis transfer Trevon Willis, who will emerge while initially bringing spark off the bench.
With returning senior forwards Rene Rougeau and Joe Darger, the Rebels are the team to beat in the MWC this season. Anticipate UNLV to constantly cover senior guard Brandon Johnson with their relentless defensive pressure and for San Diego to have a rough time finding anyone else to score. Rebels roll to a big victory.
Winner: UNLV By: Pick'em - Close - 10+
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.