UNLV snapped its three-game losing streak to Nevada by closing out the last 4:36 on a 16-8 run. The win gives UNLV two-straight conference wins for the first time this season, but Nevada has now dropped five straight games.
UNLV led the entire first half and held a 33-26 lead at halftime. The Wolf Pack came out shooting much better in the second half, as they scored 13 points on their first eight possessions. Nevada had managed to take a three-point lead with under five minutes to play, but would miss their next six shots, while the Rebel lead grew.
Goodluck Okonoboh made the biggest impact with 13 points (6 of 7 shooting), nine rebounds and five blocks. The freshman big man came off the bench to play 26 minutes, as he is returning to action after missing time with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Okonoboh made one of the biggest plays of the game by swatting Tyron Criswell’s shot then running the floor to finish off a fast break with a dunk to give UNLV a 55-54 lead. But the dagger came from Chris Wood, who hit a three with the shot clock running down to push the Rebel’s lead to four with less than two minutes to play.
<iframe width="854" height="510" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/4PXQWZW-IJg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Wood had 16 points (5 of 10 shooting) and 11 rebounds to lead UNLV in both categories. For Nevada, Eric Cooper dropped 16 points (5 of 16 shooting), while AJ West had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the second time this season against UNLV.
Rebounding – namely blocking out West – was the major key Dave Rice had entering the game. West still managed to grab 10 offensive rebounds, as Nevada grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to UNLV’s 25 defensive rebounds. But UNLV managed to contest Nevada’s second chances well enough to hold the Wolf Pack to 10 second chance points.
Both teams dealt with foul trouble. West picked up two fouls in the first four minutes and finished with four, as did his teammates Kaileb Rodriguez and Marqueze Coleman.
For UNLV, Cody Doolin and Okonoboh both fouled out. It is just the third time in 124 career games that Doolin has picked up five fouls. Pat McCaw also finished with four fouls.
UNLV will head back to Las Vegas to host Air Force on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PST. Meanwhile Nevada is headed to Laramie to take on Wyoming at 3:00 p.m. PST on Saturday.
UNLV is now 3-5 in conference play, climbing ahead of 2-5 Nevada. The Rebels sit just two games out of the top six, which get a bye in the 10-team Mountain West Conference Tournament. Plus if the Rebels are still dreaming big, Wyoming and San Diego State lead the conference at 6-2, just three games ahead of UNLV.
(Conference standings before the Colorado State-Boise State game went final.)