It's been a rough start to the season for UNLV. For a team that has traditionally played well at home, Vegas has seen the hometown Rebels get manhandled by UC Santa Barbara, go down to the wire against a weak Nebraska-Omaha squad, and falter in the second half against respectable opponents (Arizona State, Illinois).
So it's hard to assume UNLV will take care of a lesser team, even if it appears they have the advantage talent wise. Despite their struggles, this team has managed to improve after each game following their embarrassing loss to UCSB. This trend continued and it resulted in a 85-55 victory for the Runnin' Rebels.
"This was a good and very necessary win for us." Head coach Dave Rice said after game.
Forward Roscoe Smith continues to lead the NCAA in rebounds grabbing 19 more and putting up 13 points for the Rebels while Bryce Dejean-Jones lead the way in scoring with 16 points. Continuing a trend in the past couple games, the Rebels once again got contributions from multiple players. Five players finished the night in double figures and UNLV was able to control the pace of the game throughout. Shot selection has been an issue for most of the season and although it was against a weaker opponent, the Rebels were able to maintain consistent success shooting 55.6% from the field and going 19 of 29 from the line.
Despite Myles Taylor only shooting 6 of 16, he lead the Skyhawks in scoring with 13 points. UT Martin as a team struggled to get in any kind of rhythm going 25 of 71 from the field. Guard Terrance Smith added 12 points, going 2 of 3 from three point range.
The Runnin' Rebels have much tougher challenges ahead of them, going to Tucson Friday night to face the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats in a game that will be televised on ESPN 2. If UNLV could make a competitive game out of it Friday night, I could see it being a real confidence builder going forward for a team that has continued to improve and build more chemistry as the season progresses. Regardless of how good your next opponent is, you still have to take care of teams like UT Martin on your home court. To win by 30 points is more than exceptional.
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