San Juan Capistrano, California
UNLV is off to a fast start sitting at 5-0, if they extend their streak by one more game the win will come with some hardware, as the Rebels look to capture the championship of the So Cal Challenge. They take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers out of the Big 10 who defeated Cal Baptist in the first game of the event. The Gophers are 4-1 with their only loss being a defeat at the hands of DePaul. Both teams are led by second year coaches leading their Alma Mater. Minnesota HC Ben Johnson spent 2 seasons playing for the Gophers amassing over 500 points.
Keys To Victory
1 Championship Level Defense – The Rebels have been suffocating on the defensive end, and they showed it again Monday night, beating SIU at their own game. They will need a repeat performance against the Golden Gophers if they are to leave California with the crown. Minnesota is led by Dawson Garcia who is averaging over 16 points per game. The Gophers actually have three players in double figures with Jamison Battle and Talon Cooper also averaging more than 10 a game.
2 Bench Mob – Scoring wise the Rebels are going to have to get something from the bench. Victor Iwuakor grabbed 6 rebounds but that was the extent of the bench production. UNLV got a total of 4 points from the bench on Monday, so it goes without saying they will need more. Right now the Iron 5 is doing the heavy lifting, but in a game like this the Rebels will have to get something from the bench.
3 BTPMBTPIBTG – The lengthy acronym stands for Big time players make big time plays in big time games. The Rebels have two big time players as EJ Harkless and Keshon Gilbert have proven to be Dawgs. In championship games you need your Dawgs to show up. Because of their abilities on both sides of the ball I’m confident that both will play to their potential, but excited to see what level they’ll have to go to in order to get the victory in this one.
Prediction: I’d be lying if I said the lack of bench production isn’t concerning, especially the day after a grueling match against a physical team. I believe in Harkless’ and Gilbert’s will to win so I’ll ride with them but not by much.
Rebels 58 – Gophers 55