As the month of February turns to its latter half, the Mountain West Conference continues to be one of the bigger enigmas in the country.
New Mexico and Colorado State have emerged as the league’s top frontrunners, but it’s more than difficult to count out the likes of both UNLV and San Diego State, especially considering they were predicted to be the top two dogs heading into this season.
Well, the two squared off on Saturday evening as the Rebels used a late run to build a ten-point advantage before holding the Aztecs off late. Anthony Bennett paced the way once again, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the process. The Rebels forward continues to play as the team’s top player, looking more and more like a viable candidate for National Freshman of the Year.
As for the game itself however, UNLV got the win that they desperately needed. The Runnin’ Rebels had dropped three of their past four games overall heading into their game with SDSU, so a win was more than necessary. With the end result, both UNLV and San Diego State are now tied for third place in the conference with Air Force.
The front court production for the Rebels continues to be the key ingredient for their success. Bennett’s numbers don’t lie, not from Saturday and not on the season overall. He is having a tremendous freshman campaign and it would be interesting to see where UNLV would be right now without him. However, Khem Birch and Mike Moser have also been productive for head coach Dave Rice and their ability to score and rebound the basketball ultimately holds the key to their postseason potential.
On Saturday, the front court trio combined for 48 of the team’s 72 points.
UNLV will play host to Colorado State on Wednesday night this week, a game that could help lift the Rebels back within the MWC discussion.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS