At times, its been rough here for the Miners in the early going. After an impressive season opening win, the team struggled mightily on the offensive end to the tune of four straight losses. Granted the losses came against some stiff competition, but nonetheless they struggled.
Over the last two contests though, both of which were wins, the Miners have done a much better job on the offensive end. Julian Washburn seems to be getting into rhythm, as he's averaged 18 points a game on 57% shooting from the field, and guys like John Bohannon and Jalen Raglend have had some of their best outputs in those games as well.
Still though, the Miners are only averaging 56.7 points a game on the season. That ranks 333rd in the country, and is dead last in Conference USA. Rice (58.1) is the only other C-USA team averaging less than 60 points a game. Now, under Tim Floyd, the Miners will likely never be an extremely high scoring offense, but 56 points a game probably won't get it done when conference play arrives.
Insert Konner Tucker and McKenize Moore. With McKenize, no one really knows exactly how he'll do when thrust into the lineup. The one year period a transfer must sit out is about to expire, but to this point he's been unable to practice, and has been out of competitive basketball for more than a year.
We know that he's extremely talented, but it'll likely take some time to get back into the flow of things. The good news is, assuming all goes well with finals, McKenzie may be able to get in a few practices before Monday's showdown with UNLV, which could help speed things up for him.
Tucker on the other hand, has been able to practice as of late, and will hopefully be able to step in and knock down some shots when called upon. He's been out since the Miners' exhibition against Southeastern Oklahoma, but did hit 3 of his 5 shots in that game, and finished with 11 points in only 16 minutes of action.
Of course, that was the night that he fractured his wrist. He's now had about 40 days to recover, and was actually hoping to make his way back into the lineup last week against Idaho before suffering a minor setback in practice. He's continued to nurse that wrist back to health, and should be very near 100% by Monday.
"I'm looking forward to being back and doing whatever I can to help the team. You know [My wrist] feels pretty good. Sometimes its sore after practice...but I just keep getting treatment and keep getting it stronger. I should be good to go."
We've seen that guys like Washburn and Bohannon can get theirs on a regular basis, but others will need to perform well for this team to become a consistent winner. With Tucker and Moore in the lineup, the team now has all pieces in play for the first time in the 2012 season, and they'll be in play for the first time perhaps in the biggest game of the year.
The UNLV Rebels come to town Monday, and will prove to be a huge challenge for the Miners on both ends of the floor. They are extremely long and athletic, and do a great job rebounding and scoring the basketball. They currently rank 12th and 26th in those categories nationally.
It'll take a complete team effort to have a chance against the Rebels, and guys like Tucker and Moore are certainly no exception. They will have to play their part. Tipoff for the contest is slated for 6:00 p.m. MT, and the game will be carried by CBS Sports.