It was obvious going into last night's game that both UNLV and Boise State were both desperate for a win. The Broncos had yet to win a conference game after dropping four straight to Loyola, Colorado State, Utah State and Wyoming. The Runnin' Rebels haven't fared much better in the Mountain West so far. With losses to Wyoming, Nevada and now Boise State, UNLV's only conference win came against lowly San Jose State this past Saturday. They've dropped four of their last five.
Something had to give, and it appeared from the beginning that Boise State had more desire to win the game. Senior guard Derrick Marks, who put up 28 points and 4 rebounds Tuesday night, has been the biggest offensive threat for the Broncos this season and from the beginning, he managed to get his team off to a hot start that would ultimately carry them into halftime with a 38-30 lead. Early on the Rebels just appeared to be out of sync. Turnovers were a problem the whole night and they would only become magnified as the game went on and empty possessions proved to be the difference.
Thankfully, the Runnin' Rebels came out of the locker room looking sharp. UNLV went on a 10-2 run later in the half to take a 67-64 lead with 3:24 left. Boise State would answer, but a Patrick McCaw free throw would put them up 68-66 with 26 seconds left. Derrick Marks, was then able to convert on a turnaround jumper to tie the game at 68 with 16 seconds remaining. UNLV would be given one more opportunity to win the game and avoid overtime, but after a questionable final possession, Rashad Vaughn put up a 3-point attempt that was off the mark.
UNLV failed to carry any momentum into overtime. While Rashad Vaughn, who finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists drained a three pointer to score the first points of the period, his two free throws with 1:43 left coupled with that were the only points the Rebels would score in extra time. Nine points would be the difference as Boise State cashed in on another UNLV turnover and made several free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach.
James Webb III was a big difference maker for the Broncos in addition to Derrick Marks. Going 6 of 10 from the field, he finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Christian Wood also had a solid game for the Runnin' Rebels scoring 12 points to go with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. UNLV as a team failed to block many shots Tuesday night, finishing with only 5. They currently rank third in the NCAA with a season average of 7.6.
The road doesn't get much easier for the Runnin' Rebels as they will travel to Viejas Arena on Saturday to face San Diego State (12-4, 2-1 MW). Boise State also has a tough challenge ahead of them as they head to The Pit on Sunday night to face New Mexico (11-5, 3-1 MW)