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February 21, 2012

Boise St.-UNLV Preview



(AP) -- UNLV is happy three of its last four games will be played at home, especially after a poor stretch on the road dropped it further back in the Mountain West Conference race.

The 21st-ranked Runnin' Rebels look to improve to 15-0 on their own court and avoid a fourth loss in five games Wednesday night when they meet a surging Boise State team that gave them some trouble last month.

UNLV (22-6, 6-4) was riding a five-game winning streak heading into Wyoming on Feb. 4, the first game in a stretch of three of four on the road.

The Rebels fell 68-66 to the Cowboys before returning home to beat then-No. 13 San Diego State 65-63 on Feb. 11. UNLV, however, went back on the road and lost 102-97 in overtime to TCU on Feb. 14 and 65-45 to New Mexico on Saturday.

It went 4 for 17 in the second half Saturday in its lowest-scoring and worst-shooting (14 of 45) game of the season.

The recent struggles have dropped UNLV into a second-place tie with the Aztecs in the MWC, with both teams looking up at the Lobos. The Rebels haven't lost three in a row since Feb. 10-17, 2010.

"It was a rough week for us, but having said that, we believe in our guys and we believe in the progress we've made," coach Dave Rice said. "We have a long way to go, we've got the guys in place that can make it happen. A lot of basketball left to be played starting Wednesday night with Boise State."

UNLV is 3-1 all-time against Boise State and needed overtime to come away with a 77-72 win in Idaho on Jan. 25. That was the Broncos' fourth of seven straight losses to open their first season in the MWC, but they've won three in a row since.

"That shows you a lot about a program to lose their first seven league games and bounce back and get three big wins," Rice said.

Sophomore forward Mike Moser had 18 points and a career-high 21 rebounds last month against the Broncos (13-12, 3-7), who were led by freshman guard Derrick Marks' season-best 21 points.

Marks also paced Boise State in its last game, registering team highs of 13 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 65-64 home win over TCU. Anthony Drmic hit two free throws with nine-tenths of a second left for the Broncos.

"We'll have our hands full," Rice said. "Our players know our fans are disappointed with the week, but you know what, there are special things ahead and a lot of big things that are going to continue to happen."

Moser is among the conference leaders with 14.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, while freshman swingman Drmic is the only Boise State player averaging in double-figure points with 12.3.

Drmic was held to nine points and shot 4 of 15 - 1 of 8 from 3-point range - in the first matchup against UNLV.


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