UNM Basketball: UNLV frontcourt poses big challenge for Lobos

The Lobos continue their quest to secure their first road victory of the season Wednesday night against UNLV at the Thomas and Mack Center.

The Rebels boast one of the highest scoring offenses in the nation, led by top scorers Brandon McCoy and Shakur Juiston, a frontcourt duo that averages 33.2 points and 19.8 rebounds per game to lead the No. 7th-ranked UNLV offense.

McCoy, a 7-1, 250-pound freshman from Chicago, Illinois has been a dominant force all season for head coach Marvin Menzies, scoring 20 points or more in eight of UNLV’s 17 games. His size and athleticism make him a difficult matchup for any team, especially one like UNM that lacks a big man down in the post that can compete with a seven-foot player like McCoy.

Although Juiston is the smaller of the two forwards for Menzies, he is an equally talented rebounder as his frontcourt mate McCoy, yet he is more athletic and can help the offense with the ability to pass out of the post.

The Rebels are the top-ranked team in the conference in team rebounding at 44.4 boards per game, nearly seven rebounds more per contest than the Lobos. McCoy and Juiston’s ability to control the glass, especially on with offensive rebounds, will be a difficult factor for Paul Weir’s Lobos.

On a positive note for UNM, the Rebels allow just over 75 points per game as the 250th ranked defensive unit in the nation. The Lobos should be able to find open shots and points in transition in what could be one of the highest scoring games of the MWC regular season.

A key for the Lobos will be the continued evolution of freshman Makauch Maluach as a scoring threat. The 6-5, 190-pound guard from Sydney, New South Wales has been on a tear over his past three games, including a career-high 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting against Fresno State. New Mexico will most likely need to score at least 80 points to win the game, and another double-digit performance from Maluach will help Weir’s team reach that goal.

Another key for UNM will be their aggressive press defense forcing turnovers against a UNLV team that ranks 219th in turnovers committed. The Lobos will struggle with a sizable differential in points scored in the paint and rebounds, but they might be able to make up that ground as the 25th ranked unit in turnovers forced.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m., with television coverage provided by ESPN3. Be sure to listen to Bob Brown in the Locker Room today from 4 – 7 as he gets you set for the game and all of tonight’s action.