Las Vegas, NV—The Runnin’ Rebels was led by Elijah Harkless with 28 points and Jordan McCabe who chipped in 12 points and had four assists on the night to help UNLV (13-7, 2-6 Mountain West Conference) slide pass Wyoming (6-14, 1-7) 86-72 at the Thomas & Mack Center in front of a crowd of 4,539.
Harkless grabbed eight boards for the Rebels. Keshon Gilbert joined the scoring party with 12 points while going 5 of 9 (2 for 4 from beyond the arc), and added eight rebounds.
“You have to have a level of urgency like we did for the Colorado State game,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “If you come out and play as hard as we did against Colorado State you probably don’t put yourself in that position (of being behind early vs. UNLV).
For whatever reason, this team struggles to play with an effort level that is required to win at this level. You’re talking about one of the better leagues in the country. We’re not talented enough where we can just show up and play. You have to play with a level of desperation that allows you to make the other team feel uncomfortable and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
The Runnin’ Rebels would race out to an early 6-0 lead on the Pokes, but a triple from Xavier DuSell and jumper from Reynolds made it a 6-5 game. UNLV would answer with a deep three and took a 9-5 lead with 16:21 left to to the break.
UNLV would go on a 5-0 run to take an early 14-7 lead, but DuSell answered with another three-pointer for a 14-10 game with 12:46 left in the first frame. Harkless would help UNLV build a seven-point advantage, but a free throw from Ethan Anderson and layup from Hunter Maldonado made it a 19-15 game with 9:41 left to go before the half.
After Wyoming Maldonado opened the game with a bucket, UNLV would strike from downtown and then from the free throw line to build a 50-35 lead. Reynolds went on a 5-0 run himself and made it a 10-point UNLV lead at 55-45 with 14:03 left in the contest.
The Cowboys was led by Noah Reynolds with 23 points for his seventh game with 20 or more points this season. He hit a career-high four three pointers in the contest. Dusell chipped in 18 points and tied a career-high with six three-pointers, as his 18-points was a season-high. Maldonado added 11 points for his 97th game in double-figures in his career.
The Rebels used the free throw line to build an 86-72 advantage with just over two minutes left in the contest. UNLV would use that to take the game 86-72.
The Pokes finished the night shooting 41% from the hardwood but shot 42% downtown going 14-of-33. The Rebels finished the night shooting 54% from the field. Both teams combined for only 13 turnovers with six from the Cowboys. The Runnin’ Rebels held the advantaged on the boards 33-30.
“I don’t think offensively was the issue,” Linder said. “It comes down to stepping up and making open shots. When you are missing shots, you have to find a way to make the other team miss shots so the game doesn’t get away from you. We had a couple of those stretches tonight when we got it close but then UNLV went on a run and now you are kind of behind the eight ball again. We’ve got to try to find a way to get better. Hopefully, having a week off between now and when we play Fresno some of these guys who are banged up will have a chance to get healthy and hopefully maybe we’ll get BreNdan Wenzel back before next Tuesday.”
UNLV’s next game is Saturday against Nevada at home, while Wyoming hosts Fresno State on Tuesday.
The Cowboys enjoy their second idle week of the Mountain West Conference season. Wyoming will host Fresno State on Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. inside the Arena-Auditorium.