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Oregon basketball preview and open thread: Ducks at UNLV

The 4-0 Oregon Ducks travel to Las Vegas to take on the #18 UNLV Runnin' Rebels in the season's first road test.

Stephen Dunn

Oregon Ducks (4-0) at #18 UNLV Runnin' Rebels (2-0)

6:00 PT :: Thomas and Mack Center :: Las Vegas

TV :: CBS Sports Network

After a 4-0 start in the comfortable confines of Matthew Knight Arena, the Oregon Ducks hit the road for the first time this season, taking on a ranked foe in the #18 UNLV Runnin' Rebels. UNLV is 2-0 on the young season, with both opponents being in common with the Ducks in blowout wins over Northern Arizona and Jacksonville State.

This is one of few games on the season where Oregon won't have a big advantage on the front line, as UNLV is deep with talent at the forward position, the top two of whom have Oregon ties. Mike Moser, the 6'8" forward from Grant H.S. in Portland, is a double-double waiting to happen. Moser has had a rough time shooting the ball through two games, at under 40% (small sample sizes FTW), but is still averaging 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Freshman Anthony Bennett, who had Oregon as his other finalist before picking UNLV, is averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds in only 21 minutes of action. They are complimented by four guards, all of whom are averaging double digits.

What UNLV likes to do is run. That's what Oregon wants to do, too. We have a lot of evidence to suggest that the Rebels are really, really good. We have reason to believe that the Ducks could be pretty good, but have no evidence to suggest that they are there yet. This is a great test for Oregon. If they win, we have reason to expect the Ducks to be a tournament team this season. If they play this game close on the road, that will be a good sign of the potential of this team.

I'm not going to read too much into UNLV's defensive numbers at this point, because the fact that they're allowing less than 40% shooting on the season is mitigated by the fact that they've only played two games, and one of them is against Jacksonville St., which was one of the worst shooting teams I've ever seen. Both teams have scored this season (76.0 ppg for Oregon, 84.5 for UNLV), and both have turned the ball over plenty (both over 15 TOs per game). Rebounding will be a big key. The Rebels have outrebounded their opponents by over 20 boards per game in the early season. The Ducks have solidly outrebounded their opponents as well, but at a margin of just under 10 per game. This is a good test for the Ducks' front line, and they need to be able to keep the boards even to win the game. That not only limits UNLV possessions, but keeps them from getting out in their fast break that they are so successful with.

Waverly Austin should be back, which will help Oregon's front line, but nobody is sure of the status of Carlos Emory, who will be a game time decision.

The game will tip at 6:00 pm on the CBS Sports Network. The Ducks will take on either Cincinnati or Iowa State to complete the Global Sports Challenge on Saturday.