Breaking down the UNLV basketball game against Southern Utah at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center:
Dre Marin is a pretty big talent upgrade at the point for the Thunderbirds. The freshman is still getting acclimated to the college level, however. Jadon Cohee is leading the team in scoring after sitting out his transfer year last season, and James McGee, the leading returning scorer from last season, is off to a good start in his senior campaign. UNLV seniors Jordan Johnson and Jovan Mooring make up perhaps the best backcourt in the Mountain West.
The Thunderbirds don’t have much size up front in the starting lineup. Jacob Calloway is a 6-foot-8-inch stretch four who might take Shakur Juiston away from the basket at times. Christian Musoko, also 6-8, is more of a true center. Neither has the pedigree of the UNLV big men.
Southern Utah struggled on defense last season, and perhaps some of that had to do with fatigue, as they employed a seven-man rotation. Coach Todd Simon has more depth this season, including Jamal Aytes. The former UNLV and Brigham Young player is coming off the bench despite being one of the team’s best players. Ivan Madunic provides size and rim protection, and Brandon Better is a double-figure scorer. The Rebels didn’t get much production off the bench against Utah, but several players gave coach Marvin Menzies quality minutes with McCoy and Juiston in foul trouble.
The Rebels have to be feeling confident after blowing out Utah to remain undefeated.
UNLV -23.5; total 166.5