WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Youmans, who covers UNLV men’s basketball for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, on Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming.
Tipoff is at 6 p.m. MT at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Follow on Twitter: @mattyoumans247
In your wildest imagination did you ever see the season go as it has for UNLV at 15-13 and 6-9 in the league?
In my wild imagination, if the season turned into a debacle for the Rebels, they could finish fifth in the conference. It appeared to be a team too talented to slip below fifth in a mediocre conference. I always was high on San Diego State, Colorado State and Wyoming, so I had UNLV finishing third or fourth. The Rebels’ upset of Arizona in December fooled some of us who were impressed with this team’s talent and potential. But that said and all excuses aside, to finish seventh or eighth is just ridiculous.
Injuries have played a factor in the struggles, but what else has led to the team’s shortcomings this season?
The Rebels were starting to put things together before the Rashad Vaughn injury. Still, that’s an excuse, too, because they lost six of seven games from Dec. 31 to Jan. 21 with Vaughn in the lineup. UNLV has come up short in most close games, and part of that is young players failing to execute and learning how to win, and part of that is the coaches not making the right moves. For a variety of reasons, it’s not a good defensive team. You always can find a few stats that say the defense is solid. But a good defensive team does not allow 51 points in the second half to Air Force or 48 points in the second half to Utah State, etc. A consistently good offensive team does not score 48 points in a home loss to Boise State. This team never has developed a real identity, and that’s a big problem.