2009-10 Opponent Preview: UNLV

As the 2009-10 season men’s basketball season approaches, BYUCougars.com continues to preview each of the Cougars’ opponents. Today’s preview-UNLV.

Game Preview

The Cougars open MWC play with UNLV at home on Jan. 6. The Rebels were 21-11 overall and 9-7 in the MWC in 2008-09. They lost in the first round of the NIT, falling 70-60 at Kentucky.

UNLV handed BYU two losses a year ago, winning 76-70 in Provo and 75-74 in Las Vegas. The Cougars have opened conference play with a win the past three seasons.

Season Outlook

Head coach Lon Kruger returns for his sixth season at UNLV, where he is 112-53. Kruger has led the Rebels to three-straight postseason appearances, including a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Tournament in 2007, a second round appearance in 2008 and a bid to the NIT last season.

UNLV returns two starters, including Oscar Bellfield (6.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) and Tre’Von Willis (11.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg). Four players who have played key roles off the bench also return, including Matt Shaw, who averaged 6.9 ppg and 4.0 rpg in 2007-08 before missing last season with an injury.

Kruger welcomes eight newcomers, including transfers Chace Stanback from UCLA and Derrick Jasper from Kentucky. Both are expected to play key roles and help pick up the slack left by seniors Wink Adams (14.3 ppg), Rene Rougeau (10.9 ppg) and Joe Darger (9.3 ppg).

Player to Watch

Tre’Von Willis, G, Jr., 6-4, 195

Willis played a key role in his first season playing for the Rebels in 2008-09 after transferring from Memphis. He averaged 11.4 points, 4.3 boards, 3.3 assists and added 35 steals. He finished the year second in scoring and assists and tied for second in rebounds and was third in steals. With Wink Adams and Rene Rougeau gone, Willis will likely increase his scoring and assist totals and be UNLV’s leader.

Other Key Players

Oscar Bellfield, G

Derrick Jasper, G

Chace Stanback, C

Matt Shaw, F

Game Implications

BYU opens its quest for a fourth-straight MWC regular season title with UNLV at home. The Cougars are looking to avenge last season’s two losses to UNLV from 2008-09. BYU as selected by the media and several preseason publications to win the MWC in 2009-10.

Rebels at a Glance

Head Coach Lon Kruger
At UNLV 6th year / 112-53
2008-09 Record 21-11 overall, 9-7 MWC
Home/Road/Neutral 14-4, 6-7, 1-0
Starters Ret/Lost 2/3
Lettermen Ret/Lost 6/7

2008-09 Team Stats

Points/Game 68.8
Points Allowed/Game 64.4
Field Goal % .423
Opponent FG % .427
Rebounds/Game 33.0
Assists/Game 11.8
Steals/Game 7.2
Blocks/Game 3.8

Returning Stat Leaders

Points/Game Tre’Von Willis, 11.4
Rebounds/Game Tre’Von Willis, 4.3
Assists/Game Oscar Bellfield, 3.4
Steals Tre’Von Willis, 35
Blocks Darris Santee, 16
Three-pointers Kendall Wallace, 37