LAS VEGAS -- On the billboards just off UNLV’s campus were ads for "UNLV on the Strip" highlighting the Runnin’ Rebels matchup with Utah at the MGM Grand on Saturday. During the media session earlier in the week, multiple questions came to Dave Rice, Cody Doolin and Chris Wood about the upcoming games against Utah and Arizona.
But UNLV had to play Portland first. And Cody Doolin wasn’t about to let a major buzz kill ruin a potentially great stretch for UNLV.
Doolin wasn’t the leading scorer (15 points on 6 of 8 shooting); he only had three assists. But Doolin made the two biggest plays of the game. In a hectic 4.4 seconds, Doolin found himself trapped in the lane before dishing the ball to Dwayne Morgan, who got a lay up to fall as the buzzer sounded.
Then in a tie game in overtime, Doolin drove to the right block and hoisted up a layup with 0.4 seconds left that fell to give UNLV the 75-73 overtime victory.
"He looked over at me and said, ‘Coach, I want the ball. And I’m going to go make a play,’" Dave Rice said. "He just wouldn’t let us lose. Cody’s just absolutely a winner."
- Dwayne Morgan has struggled this year on offense and was heading towards another poor performance. But the freshman big man hit the critical shot to tie the game then had a short jumper fall in overtime to finish with six points on 2 of 4 shooting on 23 minutes.
- Cody Doolin made the two biggest plays of the game as the clock was running down. But he also hit a huge three in overtime off the dribble as the defense went under a ball screen. If Doolin hits that type of three with any consistency, it could open up the pick and roll in major ways.
- Portland started three centers at 6-foot-11 and played a 2-3 zone with those three in the back line. It flustered UNLV early, as Portland jumped out to a 9-3 lead.
- Portland used that lineup for roughly 10 minutes, and the Pilots size led to a rebounding edge. Portland grabbed 16 offensive boards to UNLV’s 22 defensive boards and 22 defensive boards to UNLV’s eight offensive.
- Rashad Vaughn dropped in 25 points on 9 of 17 shooting. He wasn’t having a very efficient night until he closed the last five minutes of regulation and overtime with 3 of 4 shooting and 2 of 3 from the free throw line. He also had a team-high seven rebounds.
- Chris Wood filled up the statsheet with 17 points (7 of 13 shooting), six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal. He did shoot four three pointers only making one – the first one. Wood knocking down a three early in a game may be a blessing in disguise as it urges him to shoot more from deep.
- Portland point guard Alec Wintering can ball y’all. He gave UNLV fits by getting into the lane with his quickness. He ended up 24 points (9 of 17 shooting) and five assists.
- All three of Portland’s starting big men finished in double figures and combined for 24 of the Pilots’ 38 rebounds.
- Pat McCaw didn’t have a great night in the box score, as he scored eight points on 3 of 9 shooting, fouled four times and grabbed just two rebounds. But he was a team-best +16 and continues to be one of UNLV’s best players.
- Jelan Kendrick and Goodluck Okonoboh started but didn’t make major impacts. Kendrick played 19 minutes and shot 1 of 5. His biggest contribution was guarding one of the centers despite giving up five inches. Okonoboh played 30 minutes and scored two points and grabbed six rebounds.
- Portland led by eight with 6:23 to play before UNLV mounted its comeback.
- Cody Doolin is now 7-1 against Portland in his career. He played them twice a year in his three seasons at San Francisco plus another time in the conference tournament.
Rice on rebounding:
"We have got to be a better rebounding team. It’s all about desire. We got some big rebounds down the stretch. We gotta block out and do a better job."
Doolin on the final play of regulation:
"We were just trying to get it in, and somebody go to the hole whoever got it. Dwayne did a great job on that play. It was a really great play – his awareness was great – he just got it and did that (quick) little layup."
"I just spun, and I was going to go up with it and he was just standing right there. His man stepped up when I turned around. I just dumped it off."
Doolin on his familiarity with Portland:
"I knew that those big guys were going to be really tough. (Coach Reveno) does a great job with them. They’re always a problem anytime you play them."
Doolin on Portland point guard Alec Wintering:
"He was a quick little booger."
Now UNLV can get excited about Pac-12 revenge. The Rebels will face #14 Utah on Saturday at the MGM Grand. The game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. but will start after the Oklahoma-Washington game, which precedes it.
After that UNLV returns to the Thomas & Mack to play #3 Arizona. The Rebels will likely need one of the two for a resume builder, or the difficult schedule will be useless for the NCAA Tournament.