UNLV had a four-point lead at halftime over 13th-ranked Kansas, but the Jayhawks annihilated the Runnin’ Rebels 47-28 in the second half to get the victory.
The biggest issue for UNLV (9-5) came from turning the ball over. The Rebels gave up the ball 12 times, which isn’t a massive number, but they were almost all live-ball turnovers that turned into fast break points for Kansas (11-2). The Jayhawks scored 20 points off those turnovers.
For perspective, Kansas scored 1.7 points per possession after UNLV turnovers compared to .97 points per possession on all other possessions.
This ends a stretch that saw UNLV play three teams ranked in the top 15 in 16 days. The Rebels went 1-2 with a win over Arizona and a loss to Utah. Plus UNLV beat Southern Utah and lost at Wyoming in the same stretch.
- Kansas trapped UNLV on high ball screens, which led to a lot of turnovers early on. But UNLV finally calmed down and handled the trap much better late in the first half.
- Running the point, Pat McCaw had back-to-back turnovers due to Kansas’ pressure defense. After that Cody Doolin played the rest of the first half at point guard and only sat for a brief stint in the second half. Doolin played 36 minutes.
- Wayne Selden hit his first three three-pointers of the game, but after that Kansas missed its next eight threes of the first half.
- But in the second half, Kansas shot 5 of 8 on threes during their explosive half.
- Goodluck Okonoboh was a monster in the first half as he swatted five shots. His line at the break was six points, four rebounds and five blocks.
- But like Utah, the Jayhawks figured out how to score around the shot blocker. Okonoboh also struggled on offense and had no points or blocks in half number two.
- Chris Wood’s efficiency dipped. The sophomore had been shooting 66 percent in the previous three games, but he finished with 12 points (5 of 12 shooting), eight rebounds and two blocks.
- Cody Doolin played well in what was his best performance against high-level competition this year. He shot 5 of 6 for 12 points while dishing out seven assists.
- Rashad Vaughn, who missed Friday’s practice with flu-like symptoms, had 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting. He hit some impressive floaters in the lane, but he also took a few poor shots, and wasn’t a major factor for the Rebels.
- UNLV only grabbed 59 percent of Kansas’ missed shots, well below the Rebels average defensive rebounding percentage of 71.
- UNLV had been grabbing 80 percent of defensive rebounds in the last four games.
- Frank Mason had a tremendous game for Kansas, as he led the team with 18 points (8 of 14 shooting) and seven assists.
- Both teams really only played six players. Dave Rice gave a combined 16 minutes to his seventh and eighth men off the bench (Dwayne Morgan and Jordan Cornish). While Bill Self’s seventh and eighth men saw just 10 minutes (Brannen Greene and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk).
- Pat McCaw finished with three turnovers, but he also had trouble with the rims. He had three open three pointer hit the inside of the rim before falling out. McCaw had nine points (3 of 10 shooting, 1 of 6 from three), three rebounds and no assists.
- UNLV only got to the free throw line nine times; it is only the second time the Rebels didn’t attempt at least 10 free throws. The other came at Arizona State, where UNLV shot seven free throws.
- UNLV has now lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, as UNLV lost at Wyoming on New Year’s eve.
- The Rebels lost their first game to a team with an animal nickname. UNLV is now 8-1 against animals.
UNLV will come home for two conference games. Nevada heads to Las Vegas on Wednesday, followed by San Jose State on Saturday.
There is no guarantee that UNLV will play another raked team this season. There are a few Mountain West teams with the potential to find their way into the top 25, including UNLV. But this could be a one-bid conference, and chances for resume building wins may be slim.
UNLV plays seven games against teams in the KenPom top 100 the rest of the way. If the Rebels avoid any 100-plus losses – which they’ve done so far this year – and manage to go 4-3 or 5-2 in the big games, UNLV could be worthy of an at large bid with wins over Arizona and Temple.