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November 14, 2008
MORE: San Diego-UNLV preview
As far as season openers go, this one is a little tougher than most.
UNLV opens the 2008-09 season with a home game against San Diego on Saturday. Both were NCAA tournament teams last season, and both won at least 22 games.
"It's not your typical season opener, that's for sure," UNLV coach Lon Kruger told Rivals.com. "It's not one of those games where you hope to get a lot of guys a lot of minutes, maybe find out more about your team. This is an opener against an NCAA tournament team that our players have a lot of respect for. We have to play well if we want to win."
One of the Rebels' 27 victories last season came at the Toreros' Jenny Craig Pavilion. UNLV prevailed 66-55 in a mid-November matchup, holding San Diego to 36.4-percent shooting.
But the Rebels couldn't handle Toreros forward Gyno Pomare. The big man posted 23 points and 10 rebounds and shot 8-of-15 from the floor. No one else managed to score in double figures for Bill Grier's team.
That brings to the forefront the biggest question about this game: Will Pomare play? He has been suspended indefinitely by Grier for an unspecified violation of team rules, but he has continued to practice with the team. He did not play in the Toreros' exhibition game, an unexpectedly narrow 71-67 victory over Division II Cal State Los Angeles.
"Pomare is a big-time scorer," Kruger said. "If he catches in deep, he'll finish. He's a tough matchup."
It's safe to say the Rebels will prepare for Pomare.
San Diego's Trumaine Johnson vs. UNLV's Oscar Bellfield
San Diego's Brandon Johnson vs. UNLV's Wink Adams
San Diego's De'Jon Jackson vs. UNLV's Rene Rougeau
San Diego's Gyno Pomare/Roberto Mafra vs. UNLV's Darris Santee
San Diego's Rob Jones vs. UNLV'sJoe Darger
Prediction: UNLV 68, San Diego 64
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.