for this game

UNLV-Santa Clara Preview

Dec 4, 2009 - 9:56 PM By KATE HEDLIN STATS Writer

UNLV (6-0) at Santa Clara (4-3), 10:00 p.m. EDT

The last time UNLV won its first seven games, it led to the Rebels' most recent trip to the Final Four.

UNLV visits Santa Clara on Saturday in its second consecutive road game, looking to post the school's best start in 19 years.

Coming off an upset of then-No. 16 Louisville, the Rebels (6-0) moved into the Top 25 this week for the first time this season. They narrowly avoided a letdown Wednesday, winning 74-72 in double overtime at Arizona.

UNLV is now trying to open the season 7-0 for the first since winning the first 34 games of the 1990-91 season, which ended with a loss to Duke in the Final Four.

The Rebels' defense has made them especially dangerous, having yet to allow an opponent to shoot better than 40 percent. Although they struggled offensively Wednesday, shooting a season-low 39.7 percent, they held Arizona to 36.5 percent - including 24.0 in the second half when they rallied from a six-point deficit.

"It was good for us to go on the road and experience all those kinds of late-game situations against a very good program here," coach Lon Kruger said. "We couldn't get more out of an early season game. The win is a bonus."

Tre'Von Willis scored a team-high 25 points and Derrick Jasper hit a 3-pointer with 1:39 remaining in the second overtime to tie the game at 70. After Arizona missed its next shot, Willis made two free throws to put the Rebels ahead for good.

Willis is one of two remaining starters from last season's team which started 13-2 but finished 21-11 and was relegated to the NIT. Willis has keyed this strong start, averaging a team-high 17.5 points.

The Rebels also have received good contributions from two newcomers - transfers Jasper and Chace Stanback - and they've started every game. Jasper, who played two seasons at Kentucky, has scored in double figures in three of the last four games while averaging 4.3 assists. Stanback, who began his collegiate career at UCLA, leads the team with 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

UNLV will face Santa Clara (4-3) for a second straight year, having won 78-66 last season for its fourth straight victory in the series.

The Broncos bounced back from a three-game losing streak to win their last two, including a 79-68 victory over previously unbeaten UC-Santa Barbara on Tuesday.

Forward Ben Dowdell missed his third straight game with a leg injury. With Marc Trasolini taking his place, it gave Santa Clara four underclassmen in its starting lineup.

"We are overcoming adversity as we go," coach Kerry Keating told the Broncos' official Web site.

"We played with four freshmen on the floor many times. They aren't perfect, but we aren't asking them to be. I just want them to play hard."

Sophomore Kevin Foster leads Santa Clara 19.8 points per game.

The Broncos have lost 12 straight and 24 of 25 against ranked teams. The last time they beat a Top 25 opponent at home was an 80-67 victory over then-No. 13 California in 1993.