Nevada tops UNLV 74-71

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Senior guard Deonte Burton put up 29 points going 12 of 20 from the field as the Wolf Pack handed UNLV their fifth home loss of the season Wednesday night. Improving to 8-8 (3-0 Mountain West) and dropping the Runnin' Rebels to 10-6 (1-2 Mountain West).

UNLV jumped out to a 34-23 lead in the first half and appeared as if they were gonna head to the locker room with all momentum on their side. Nevada responded however by closing the half on an 11-2 run and carrying that momentum into the second half, holding the Rebels to just 2 points over a seven minute period, spanning the final 3:10 of the first half to the first 3:50 of the second.

The Wolf Pack would score the first 11 points to start the second half and then continue on a 23-10 run to go up 57-46 with 11:13 remaining. UNLV fought to keep this game in reach, but ultimately Nevada was able to manage their possessions wisely and had an answer whenever it appeared UNLV was about to make a run.

In addition to Deonte Burton, junior guard Michael Perez was also a key contributor for the Wolf Pack, scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Although Nevada was out-rebounded 46-38 by the Rebels, shot selection would ultimately be the difference maker as Nevada went 29 of 65 from the field while UNLV went 22 of 63.

It also doesn't help that the Runnin' Rebels shot an abysmal 3 of 15 from three point range. While the Wolf Pack didn't do much better behind the arc (6 of 19), in close games like these you have to make the most of your opportunities if you want to win. Although UNLV could've used a couple big threes to trim the deficit, some shots were just ill-advised and too forced.

UNLV once again got multiple contributions Wednesday night with four players in double figures. Junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones put up 15 points and 6 rebounds while forward Roscoe Smith, the nation's leading rebounder scored 13 points to go with 15 rebounds. Forward Khem Birch also added 12 points and 7 rebounds, despite going 3 of 10 from the field.

It's pretty uncharted territory for UNLV to be playing so poorly at home this season even head coach Dave Rice doesn't understand:

"We've got to figure out why it is, that we've been so much better away from the Thomas and Mack than we've been in the Thomas and Mack."

Nevada remains undefeated in conference play and will host Utah State on Saturday, while UNLV will have a week to prepare for two extremely tough road games at New Mexico on January 15th and No. 13 San Diego State on January 18th.

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