Breaking down UNLV’s game against Valparaiso

Breaking down UNLV’s game against Valparaiso at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center:

Backcourt

Valpo point guard Deion Lavender leads the Missouri Valley Conference with 5.8 assists per game and is coming off a 10-assist, zero-turnover performance against West Virginia. Teammates Javon Freeman and Bakari Evelyn combine to average 22 points. Kris Clyburn averages 11.6 points for the Rebels.

Edge: Valpo

Frontcourt

Derrik Smits, whose father Rik played 12 seasons for the Indiana Pacers, blocked five West Virginia shots. He and Ryan Fazekas combine to average 26.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. UNLV’s Shakur Juiston and Mbacke Diong average 22.2 points and 15.2 rebounds. The Rebels are ninth nationally with a 13.4 average rebounding margin.

Edge: UNLV

Bench

UNLV coach Marvin Menzies has been able to bring in players in waves, and it will be interesting to see if he begins to tighten the rotation. Markus Golder averages 10.8 points for the Crusaders, and at 24.3 minutes per game is almost like a starter. Valpo uses a nine-man rotation, similar to the Rebels.

Edge: UNLV

Intangibles

Valpo has lost three games, but two were to Western Kentucky and West Virginia. So the Crusaders have played a tougher schedule than UNLV, which could be a factor if the game is tight late.

Edge: Valpo

Bottom line

Betting line: UNLV -7½

More Rebels: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

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

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