UNLV outscored UCLA in the second half, but it was too little too late for the Runnin' Rebels who start off the Maui Invitational 0-1. It is their first loss of the season. Most heart breaking for the Rebels to swallow is that this was a winnable game.
Although coming off a slow first half, the Rebs ramped up their full court defensive pressure in the second half. They caused the UCLA Bruins to speed up their offense. But, the Bruins were prepared.
In response, the Bruins utilized the Rebels' kryptonite: zone defense. In the Dave Rice era, the Runnin' Rebs have continued to struggle with the opponent's zone, forced to launch up 3s. In this game, the result was a 31 percent 3-point shooting average.
Additionally, the Bruins owned the charity stripe with a staggering 95% success rate from the free throw line. And as the Rebels got in more foul trouble they simultaneously sent the Bruins back to the free throw line again and again. Meanwhile, Fantastic freshmen Stephen Zimmerman showed that he was mortal as he led the team in turn overs and missed some crucial free throws down the wire that could have cut into the lead.
Now, the Rebels go on to face Chaminade who was dominated, unsurprisingly, by Kansas earlier in the day. Kansas will play the Bruins in the next round of the championship bracket. In UNLV's first showing on the national stage, the Rebs illustrated their youth and lack of consistency.