TV Schedule: Tuesday, Jan. 12, 10:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Arena: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
In the first big coaching decision of the 2015-16 season, the UNLV Rebels fired head coach Dave Rice after his dismal 9-7 start to the season. You hate to see coaches fired in the middle of the season, but UNLV lost six of their last eight which cost Rice his job.
Next up for UNLV is a home matchup with the New Mexico Lobos that could show us whether or not UNLV has given up on the 2015-16 season or if the Rebels have some fight left in them.
New Mexico is one of the most average teams in the country on paper, ranking No. 105 in points per game and No. 189 in points allowed per game. Despite losing four straight games prior to conference play, however, the Lobos have begun to play much better defense and figure out how to hold on to secure late victories, winning their opening three games of Mountain West Conference play. In each of these three games at least one of their players scored 20 points, including two such performances by Tim Williams.
That being said, the talent has always been there for UNLV to challenge for the MWC regular season title. The Rebels, at least on paper, look to be a better team than UNM, but they continue to lose. Expect that trend to repeat itself on Tuesday night against the Lobos.
Without a coach and with New Mexico finally having turned a corner offensively, the Lobos should defeat the Rebels in a close one, keeping with UNLV’s streak of games lost by two possessions or less. Don’t look now, but UNM might be the best team in the MWC at this moment.
Prediction: New Mexico 73, UNLV 70