It's Pack the Mack night as the Rebels and the Lobos meet for the 65th time, UNLV leads the all-time series 39-25. The Runnin’ Rebels have won the last six meetings vs New Mexico, including four straight at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNLV is seeing the court for the first time in 10 days after their last match against San Diego State on New Years Day. Although the Runnin’ Rebels will be back in action Tuesday, some Rebels might be missing from the lineup as some are still in quarantine.
“The group that is here is working and ready,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “We’ll have enough to play… We’ll just keep doing the best we can to keep the guys ready to go and locked in.”
Although it is uncertain how many guys have cleared protocols and are eligible to play, Kruger said “we have at least seven,” which is the minimum required to play in the NCAA in accordance with CDC guidelines.
With no information on who is eligible for the game, a completely new starting lineup may take the court. Kruger added, “[the players eligible] understand minutes can be heightened and they may be asked to do different things.”
No matter who is on the court, the game plan stays the same: defense, defense, defense.
The Lobos have two offensive threats to UNLV: Jamal Mashburn Jr. who leads his team in scoring at 19.0 ppg and Jaelen House who is averaging 16.1 ppg while being the team’s assist leader with 4.6 apg.
“Everyone has trouble staying in front of those two guys [Mashburn and House],” Kruger said. “It's gonna be guard by committee… the guys [Runnin’ Rebels] understand that it's those two guys that are gonna make that thing go.”
“When you say ‘stay in front of the ball’, it's not that easy when you have two guys that go and score pretty much anytime in a possession.”
With day-to-day unpredictability with the team now that COVID-19 hit nearly everyone in the program, coaches included, one thing is for sure: new career-highs are bound against New Mexico.
It was almost two years ago to the day when Bryce Hamilton recorded a career-high 35 points against the Lobos in a contest on Jan. 18, 2020. That same game Marvin Coleman recorded the first triple-double by a Runnin’ Rebel in 20 years while gaining a new career-high in rebounds, assists, and steals.
After sweeping the season series last year, winning both contests at home, the Rebels are looking to improve their 23-11 all-time record against the Lobos at home tomorrow.
After hosting New Mexico this Tuesday, the Runnin’ Rebels will remain home to play Fresno State on Friday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. For both Tuesday’s and Friday’s contests, tickets can be purchased at UNLVtickets.com.