UNLV basketball has dominated inferior competition this season. The Rebels are 8-5, claiming victory in all eight games they were favored to win.
The Rebels struggled to close wins to start the season over Gardner Webb, Cal and North Dakota State. The defense was dominant, but the offense was lacking.
UNLV averaged 0.92 points pers possession in those three games.
In the final four games of the non-conference season, UNLV’s offense has come alive. In wins over Seattle, Hartford, Omaha and San Diego the Rebels averaged 1.22 points per possession.
UNLV should be encouraged by the progress from the start of the season to now. The defense slipped a little bit, but the Rebels last four games were significantly more impressive than the first three.
But these seven games only tell us one thing about UNLV. They are bum slayers.
Kevin Kruger put together a more athletic roster compared to last season. This version of UNLV can physically dominate bad teams. But when UNLV has played teams that can equal or match their physicality, they lose.
In five games against Ken Pom top 100 teams, UNLV is 0-5. The allowed all five to surpass the 1 point per possession mark and only managed to produce over 1 point per possession on offense once.
With conference play upon us, how will UNLV’s bum slaying translate in the Mountain West?
There are three bums in the conference. New Mexico, San Jose State and Air Force are all ranked outside the top 200 by Ken Pom. But six Mountain West teams are in the top 100 and Wyoming is lurking just outside at 105.
UNLV should be competitive and pull out a win or two against Wyoming, Nevada (75th in Ken Pom) and Fresno State (86th). But for UNLV to prove they have improved under Kruger, they will need to beat some of the top five teams in the Mountain West.
For now, we know the Rebels are bum slayers.
Shoutout to the blog SinBin.Vegas for coining the term Bum Slayers.