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UNLV preview

The Illini men are in Las Vegas to play the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV Tuesday night.

Assistant coach Jamall Walker had the scout. He says UNLV is a much different squad than the one that blew out Bruce Weber’s final team, 64-48 in Chicago, on December 17th, 2011.

“I think there’s only one guy that played in that game,” said Walker. “Otherwise, the starting point guard (Kendall Smith) is a freshman. The two guard (Kevin Olekaibe) sat last year, was at (transferred from) Fresno State. (Bryce) Dejean-Jones, who’s their three man, was at USC at that time.

“So it’s a whole new bunch of guys. That game doesn’t mean a whole lot to them, or to us for that matter.”

The Rebels are 2-2 on the year with losses to UC-Santa Barbara and Arizona State. They also lost an exhibition game to Dixie State, in the pre-season. Walker attributes their struggles to a lack of chemistry, rather than a lack of talent.

“Obviously on paper they’re really, really talented. But still, like I said, they’ve got  new guys. You add one or two different personalities to a team and the team changes.”

Walker says the Runnin’ Rebels offense hasn’t changed. They’ll still try to push the ball.

“They play really fast. They’ll be really aggressive. They’re going to try to push the ball in transition. They’re really good on the offensive boards. They’re long. They’re athletic. They’re talented.”

Walker says the Illini, who had trouble with Chicago State’s speed last Friday, will have to adjust to the UNLV defensive scheme.

“On defense they pressure the ball. They get after you, try to turn you over a little bit. With their length and size they block a lot of shots.

“They want the game to be fast so they’re going to try to push the pace a bit on the defensive end. They’ve got good length and size in around the basket, so sometimes it’s hard to get a shot in there. But If we move some pieces and parts around, that’ll allow us to get to the basket.”

The game tips Tuesday night at 9:45 CST. On television, it’s the CBS Sports Network.

CBS Sports Network is available in Champaign-Urbana on:

AT&T U-verse TV
Channel 643 and 1643(HD)
Channel 531 and 963(HD)
Channel 531, 221 and 221(HD)
DISH Network
Channel 158 and 158(HD)
Channel 171 and 662(HD)

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