At half time Nevada was down 41-35.
Four minutes into the second half Nevada was down 54-37. It seemed to be over. Lawlor Events Center was quiet. Fans were completely out of the game. Momentum was with the Rebels.
Then something special happened. At home, on senior night, with the three seed in the Mountain West Conference Tournament on the line, magic hit.
After coach David Carter called a timeout, the Wolf Pack came out and used an 11-0 run to make the game 54-48 at the 13:33 mark. Three minutes later it was 57-54.
Now the game was not over. Lawlor Events Center was loud. Fans became a difference maker. Momentum was with the Wolf Pack.
The game became a back and forth affair between the instate conference rivals. With 54.1 seconds left in the game, the score was tied 72-72, Nevada ball. After a missed shot, sophomore Cole Huff hit a put back to put the Wolf Pack up two, 74-72. UNLV then had a chance to either tie with a two or win with a three, but after a missed shot, there was a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring Nevada. The Wolf Pack then entered the ball to Marqueze Coleman who went to the line for a one and one. The sophomore hit them both to put the game out of each with the final score being 76-72.
Both UNLV and Nevada had players step up for their respective teams. Without usual starters Bryce Dejean-Jones (suspension) and Roscoe Smith (concussion), Khem Birch had a monster game with 15 points, 22 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 3 assists, dominating the game on both ends. For Nevada, Deonte Burton on his senior night had a monster game with 24 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds, two rebounds shy of a triple double in his final home game of his prestigious career.
Both teams will have a bye in the Mountain West Tournament, with Nevada getting the 3 seed and UNLV getting the 4 seed. The Wolf Pack and Rebels will need to win three games in three days to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.