LAS VEGAS – UNLV dropped its third game of the season and third to a Pac-12 team. The Rebels shot 32.7 percent from the field and fell 59-46 at the hands of #14 Utah at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Neither team impressed on offense, as the Utes were held under 40 percent from the field as well.
"It was symbolic of the pregame introductions, where you’re in a boxing environment," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "They introduced both teams like we were boxing. It was like one of those heavyweight fights that wasn’t really pretty. It took a couple of well-timed shots, punches, to give us a little confidence."
Utah landed those blows in the second half, as the Utes shot 14 of 28 from the field and outscored UNLV 35-23 in the final 20 minutes.
UNLV’s defensive performance was led by an incredible first half from Goodluck Okonoboh. The freshman had six first half OkonoBLOCKS and altered at least four more shots. His presence limited Utah to four points in the paint in the first half.
"Goodluck was very very good guarding some very good Utah post players. He’s one of the better shot blockers in the country. He did a good job in one-on-one post defense," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said.
Utah did score 18 points in the paint in the second half, which Krystkowiak credited to a more patient approach. The Utes also elected to shoot more jumpers off ball screens as opposed to driving into Okonoboh’s waiting arms.
- Both teams struggled from the free throw line, but UNLV really missed opportunities from the charity stripe. The Runnin’ Rebels were 10 of 23 (43.5%); Goodluck Okonoboh was 3 of 9, and Jelan Kendrick was 0 of 3.
- Utah shot 12 of 21 from the line (57.1%).
- Dave Rice emphasized rebounding leading up to the game, and his team delivered. It was the first time all season Utah was outrebounded. UNLV cleaned up the defensive glass grabbing 41 of Utah’s 45 misses.
- UNLV used a 1-2-1-1 press throughout the game, something we haven’t seen much of – if at all – this season. It didn’t fluster Utah at all though.
- It was an ugly offensive performance as Utah won the game with a dismal .86 points per possession; UNLV finished at .65
- Emphasizing the offensive embarrassment from both teams, late in the first half there were no points scored by either team for 3:47
- UNLV had just five assists on the night – two from Doolin – compared to 15 turnovers. Utah finished with eight assists and 10 turnovers.
- Rashad Vaughn, Pat McCaw and Jordan Cornish all missed the rim on their first shots of the game.
- Patrick McCaw had established himself as 30-minute player the last four games, but he only saw the court for 22 minutes tonight.
- It was the least impactful performance by Cody Doolin this season. The senior point guard finished with three points on 0 of 1 shooting along with two assists.
- A big part of his lacklucster performance came from Utah putting 6-foot-6 Delon Wright on Doolin for most of the game.
- Rashad Vaughn had a terrific – NBA caliber – play when he caught the ball for a post up and was double teamed. Vaughn dribbled away from and then around the double team before finishing with a layup.
- Pat McCaw had two tremendous passes on the pick and roll. First he made a great pocket pass to a rolling Goodluck Okonoboh that resulted in free throws for the big man. The second was an alley oop to Okonoboh.
- Chris Wood received a flagrant foul for elbowing Dallin Bachynski in the face. The issue taken with the call was that Wood was going up for a shot when his elbow contacted Bachynski.
Dave Rice on missing shots in the paint:
"We’ve got to get better as we move forward of finishing tough baskets around the rim, whether there is contact (or not)."
Cody Doolin on being guarded by Delon Wright:
"He’s a really good player, and he’s going to give a lot of people problems. They took us out of what we wanted to do with the way they denied the wings."
Larry Krystkowiak on Utah getting outrebounded:
"That was the first thing I said in the locker room – everyone was expecting a big celebration – and I said, "Darn it we got outrebounded,’"
Larry Krystkowiak on the neutral court:
"It didn’t feel like a road game."
UNLV will take on #3 Arizona on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack. It’ll be the fourth time the Rebels take on a Pac-12 opponent this season. UNLV is running out of chances to get quality wins for a tournament resume. Losing by 13 to Utah on a neutral court – which is what this game is officially – won’t keep UNLV out of the NCAA Tournament. But not getting a single win from the tough games in the Rebels nonconference slate would keep UNLV out.