'Dogs Bring Energy, Physicality to Finale at UNLV

March 8, 2013

By Andrew Rich & @StephenTrembley

LAS VEGAS - The Fresno State men's basketball team will need to bring the same aggressive mindset in Saturday's season finale at UNLV that supplied the power for its upset win over the Rebels just over a month ago.

The contest, which will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsNet at 3 p.m., between longtime rivals gives the Bulldogs a chance to build on the momentum they gained from last Saturday's 56-41 win over Air Force.

With a win, the 'Dogs will clinch the No. 7 seed and avoid the opening round game on Tuesday in next week's 2013 Reese's Mountain West Basketball Championships at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

On Saturday, Fresno State can also complete a season-sweep of the second-place Rebels and register the school's first true road victory over UNLV in program history.

Kevin Olekaibe, a Las Vegas native, lit up his hometown team for a season-high 21 points when the teams last met - a 64-55 victory for Fresno State at the Save Mart Center. The junior was four of seven from three-point range and the 55 points for the Rebels in that game were its lowest point total output for the season.

Tyler Johnson continues to lead the Bulldogs on the offensive end of the floor. The junior is averaging a team-high 13.8 in MW games and 12.3 for the season. Defensively, Fresno State ranks second in the conference in steals per game (7.4), 3-point field goal defense (29.5%) and total steals (207).

Meanwhile, UNLV has won six of their last seven games following the loss to the 'Dogs in early February. The Thomas and Mack Center has been one of the toughest venues in the country, and the Rebels have backed that up by going 16-1 at home this year. UNLV has four players averaging double figures, led by national Freshman of the Year candidate Anthony Bennett. He is scoring 16.2 points a game and grabbing 8.3 rebounds a game.

The stage is set for another classic duel between familiar foes still fighting for seeding for the MW Championships on the final day of the regular season.

"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- Fresno State (10-18, 4-11 Mountain West) closes out the regular season on the road at UNLV (23-7, 10-5 MW) on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. PT inside the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet (television) and KMJ 580 AM (radio).