UNLV has had a bit of a resurgence in the last two weeks.
Two Saturdays ago, they knocked off San Diego State at home. They followed that up with a win over Colorado State and then went into Laramie, WY, and blew out the Cowboys last Saturday.
All told, they’ve won four of their last five games, with three of those wins coming against the rest of the MWC’s top four. With SDSU having to visit New Mexico this week, the Rebels should be able to play their way into the No. 3 seed in the Mountain West tournament, meaning they avoid New Mexico until a potential matchup in the title game.
That’s a good thing for a team that has had some struggles, particularly on the road, this year.
But the concerning part of UNLV’s latest road trip had nothing to do with the outcome of the game as much as it did with Anthony Bennett.
Dave Rice’s leading scorer and rebounder, and the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft this June, played all of four minutes against Wyoming because of a shoulder injury that seems to be a result of sleeping on it wrong.
“I didn’t think it was that serious until he couldn’t get a rebound,” Khem Birch said after the Wyoming game. “He couldn’t even take off his shorts in the locker room. It was really hurting him.”
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.