Aftering ripping off five straight wins that dug the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels out of a 1-7 hole, the Rebels could not catch up to the shooting performance from the Utah State Aggies, losing by the score of 83-74.
In the first half of play the Rebels had a difficult time getting things going, inside the first five minutes the Rebels had turned the ball over four times. Turnovers would remain a problem as the Rebels coughed up the rock 11 times. When the Rebels did have some momentum in the first half of play it came from Devin Jenkins Jr, who ended his performance with 33 points. Mosses Wood was also a factor in the first half of play as he was perfect from the field, while also nailing a three pointer even though being completely smothered. This would bring the Aggie lead only to three headed into half time, 34-37.
While the Rebels came out swinging it did take some time to find the same energy that they closed the first half with. Utah State took advantage of this and started firing away from the arch, at one point in the second half the Aggies were shooting an outstanding 80% from range. That number checked down a bit to 60%, yet Marco Anonthy was a thorn in the Rebels side as he exploded for 12 points in the second half while going 3-4 from the arch. Rollie Worster played a huge factor on the floor tonight, putting up a team leading 19 points but also attributed three steals.
The second half struggles from the Rebels came from a very brash defensive effort from the Aggies, even though the Rebels were not knocking down shots, they were forced into very tough areas of the floor as the Aggies took away the possible three ball coming off of UNLV offensive screens.
Bryce Hamilton, team leader in points per game, was held to only a bucket tonight and it came about 11 minutes into the second half. Head coach TJ Otzelberger did state that an ankle injury did hobble Hamilton tonight.
As the Rebels have 10 games left down the stretch before a Mountain West tournament, coach Otzelberger expressed that the Rebels are still trying to bring the habit of being aggressive and physical on a nightly basis.
“To me what we have seen in the growth of our team is that for us to be at our best we have to play with that physicality and energy, we need to get out into transition.”
Otzelberger continues by saying
“I think we have gotten better defensively, it did not show up here tonight but I think we are making that progress and we are still making it.”.
Safe to say the next two games the Rebels will have to bring the tenacity to the hardwood as the backstretch of the shortened season tips-off with a road game against rival the Nevada Wolfpack.
UNLV VS Nevada 1/31/21 tip off at 6:30.