Poor shot selection and foul trouble were just a few of the many problems that plagued the Rebels Tuesday night in a blowout loss to UC Santa Barbara 86-65. Their worst home loss since 2003.
This was ugly. Really ugly.
The Runnin' Rebels lack of chemistry was put on full display Tuesday night at the Thomas and Mack Center. The Gauchos, led by junior center Alan Williams (21 points, 9 rebounds) had their way with UNLV throughout the game, taking full advantage of their offensive woes and continually putting their defense in tough situations. The result was the Rebels giving up more points then they did in any game all of last season.
UNLV shot a dismal 23 of 63 from the field, despite having three players in double figures. Senior transfer Kevin Olekaibe ended the night with 15 points, most of which came from long distance three point range, while junior forward Roscoe Smith grabbed 12 rebounds for the Rebels.
Unexpectedly, junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones made his regular season debut Tuesday night, after nursing a strained hamstring injury. He didn't appear 100 percent by any means and struggled to get into any kind of rhythm, going 1 of 5 from the field with 5 points and 2 rebounds. Center Khem Birch also had a very poor performance despite being the lone bright spot on the free-throw line going 6 of 6, he shot an abysmal 1 of 7 from the field, ending the night with eight points and four rebounds. Both UNLV and UCSB were coming off dominant wins in their season openers last Friday, with the Rebels beating Portland State 67-48 and the Gauchos taking care of Hawaii Pacific 76-50.
Given the recent history between these schools and the solid talent on the UCSB roster, this absolutely shouldn't have been considered a cakewalk for UNLV going in. But if you watched the game on Tuesday you'd almost believe the Rebels felt that way themselves. UNLV was out-coached, out-hustled, and generally out-played in every facet of the game.
The Runnin' Rebels as a whole played very uninspired basketball Tuesday night and it showed what losing a player like departed senior Anthony Marshall could mean to a team. Players need to step up and perform with intensity when a team needs a spark. The Rebels don't appear to have that. Hopefully that changes over the course of the season as players get more familiar with one another, but this kind of performance shows faith and leadership are severely lacking at UNLV.