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Breakdown: UNLV vs. Utah State

Breaking down UNLV’s basketball game at Utah State at 6 p.m. PST today:

BACKCOURT

Utah State’s Chris Smith averages 14.6 points per game, and he is part of an Aggies group of guards who will try to push the ball and run with UNLV. The Rebels, led by Patrick McCaw (13.0-point average, 4.0-assist average) and Jerome Seagears (9.8, 3.7), make this is a good matchup.

Edge: Utah State

FRONTCOURT

UNLV has made a concerted effort to go inside to 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman Jr. in the past two games, and that would be a recipe for success against Utah State. The Aggies simply can’t match up inside, though Jalen Moore averages 15.4 points.

Edge: UNLV

BENCH

The Rebels easily win this category. Guard Ike Nwamu (9.6 points), forward Ben Carter (9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds), guard Jalen Poyser (5.6 points) and guard Jordan Cornish (4.8 points) are all capable of having big moments. Utah State’s top player off the bench is guard Julion Pearre (8.3 points).

Edge: UNLV

INTANGIBLES

UNLV is 1-4 in true road games, and in the Rebels’ most recent trip, they lost at Colorado State and Wyoming. Dee Glen Smith Spectrum is a tough venue for many Utah State’s oppponents. The Aggies are 7-3 there this season.

Edge: Utah State

BOTTOM LINE

The coaching change has sparked the Rebels, who are coming off convincing victories over New Mexico and Air Force, playing the kind of basketball expected of this team from the beginning. Now the challenge for the Rebels is to continue that kind of play in tonight’s first road game under interim coach Todd Simon. A victory would signal a true turnaround has occurred.

Oddsmakers: UNLV -3½

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65

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