Breaking down the UNLV-Illinois game

Breaking down UNLV’s basketball game against Illinois at 9 p.m. Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena:

Backcourt

UNLV’s Jordan Johnson and Jovan Mooring combine to average 26.8 points, and Johnson is fourth nationally with 8.1 assists per game. For the Fighting Illini, Te’Jon Lucas has 13 steals and Mark Alstork 17 offensive rebounds.

Edge: UNLV

Frontcourt

Leron Black and Michael Finke combine to average 26.5 points and 11.2 rebo0unds, but they will have a tough time matching up with the Rebels’ duo of Brandon McCoy (20.0 points, 11.2 rebounds) and Shakur Juiston (14.7 points, 11.9 rebounds).

Edge: UNLV

Bench

The Rebels have received quality play off their bench, but there is a clear drop-off from the starters. Not so much with Illinois. Two players (guard Aaron Jordan and forward Kipper Nichols) average scoring in double figures, and another (guard Mark Smith) is at 8.6. Nichols also averages 5.4 rebounds per game.

Edge: Illinois

Intangibles

Illinois has one edge in being the underdog, but the Rebels are comfortable down the street from the Thomas & Mack Center. They are 3-0 this season at the MGM and T-Mobile Arena, and while the game time is late for the Rebels, it’s 11 p.m. for the Illini.

Edge: UNLV

Betting line

UNLV -5; total 158½

More Rebels: Follow all of our UNLV coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJRebels on Twitter.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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