LAS VEGAS – It was a hideous offensive start, but UNLV heated up from three and cruised to a 73-61 win over Fresno State, as Chris Wood stuffed the statsheet.
Chris Wood threatened for a triple double, but came away with just a double double, his 14th of the season. Wood scored 27 points (8 of 18 shooting), grabbed 19 rebounds and swatted seven shots.
Wood swung the game by getting to the free throw line. Not only did 11 of his points come there, but he single handedly got Fresno State into serious foul trouble. Alex Davis fouled out, while Paul Watson, Karachi Edo and Terrell Carter finished the game with four fouls.
After 6:27 had ticked off the clock, UNLV led Fresno State 3-2 thanks to a combined 1 of 20 shooting performance by the Rebels and Bulldogs. But UNLV found its stroke from outside and built a 10-point halftime lead.
The Rebels scored 32 points on its last 19 possessions of the first half mostly due to draining threes. Rashad Vaughn hit three first-half treys, while Jordan Cornish and Cody Doolin were each 2 of 2 from deep. In the first half UNLV was 7 of 11 (63.6%) from three, but just 5 of 17 (29.4%) from two.
UNLV’s leading scorer, Rashad Vaughn, had an efficient night scoring 18 points on 5 of 11 shooting. Meanwhile, the top the dog for Fresno State, Marvelle Harris, was limited to 12 points on an inefficient 3 of 14 shooting.
Harris was able to get into the lane, but the shot blocking of Wood and Goodluck Okonoboh kept Harris from producing from the field. Plus when UNLV used its 2-3 and 1-2-2 zones, Harris and the Bulldogs struggled to score, as Fresno State is one the worst 20 teams in the NCAA in three-point shooting.
With the win UNLV bettered itself in the race for a top six seed – and a bye – in the Mountain West Tournament. The Rebels are now 5-6 in conference play, one game behind Fresno State.
- Chris Wood turned in a performance that makes him look like a first-round pick in the NBA Draft. Fresno State – similarly to Arizona – could not guard him. The result was a ton of fouls and a huge day for Wood.
- Fresno State did not employ a zone defense like so many UNLV opponents have this season. Wood is far superior against man defenses due to his ability to face up and drive.
- Plus Dave Rice does a tremendous job of running sets for Wood to catch at 15 feet and attack. That doesn’t work against zones, but when Wood is on, it is simple, effective offense.
- UNLV ran into its own foul trouble as well. Both Dwayne Morgan and Goodluck Okonoboh fouled out. Morgan picked up a technical foul, which was his fifth foul.
- That Morgan T came as a result as a double technical. Karachi Edo and Okonoboh got tangled up and never let go of each other resulting in a small scrum.
- The game ground to a halt in the second half as 31 fouls were called in the second half. In total there were 45 fouls called and 57 free throws.
- Dave Rice was excited about the Rebels performance on the glass. UNLV grabbed 71.8 percent of Fresno State’s misses. In Mountain West play, UNLV is grabbing a league-worst 63.4 percent of opponents’ misses.
- UNLV also improved its late-game defense, as Fresno State made just one shot in the final 7:20 of the game.
- Julien Lewis led Fresno State with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting. Edo Karachi had a double double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
- UNLV swatted 11 shots - 7 by Wood, 4 by Okonoboh - and turned away 28 percent of Fresno State's two-point field goal attempts.
- Against the top defense in the Mountain West in forcing turnovers, UNLV held onto the ball. Fresno State has been forcing opponents into turnovers on 22.8 percent of their possessions; UNLV had just nine turnovers or a 13.4 turnover percentage.
- Dave Rice on Jerry Tarkanian: “It was a very tough evening last night and all day today with what Coach Tark went through. So obviously our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Tark and with family.”
- Dave Rice on Chris Wood vs man defenses: “The thing about playing against man to man, as the offensive coach, you to some degree control where the defense is going to be. We were able to establish him on the left block, and he had some matchups that we thought were favorable.”
- Cody Doolin on Chris Wood: “You can’t afford to foul him. A lot of guys you can probably get away with fouling them, but you can’t foul (Wood) because he such a good free throw shooter.”
Chris Wood and Cody Doolin
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UNLV heads to Air Force on Saturday for an 11:00 a.m. PST tip. The game will be broadcasted online via ESPN3. UNLV knocked off Air Force 74-63 in Las Vegas January 31.
Fresno State is going back home for a date with streaking Boise State. The Bulldogs and Broncos start at 4:00 p.m. PST and will also be broadcasted via ESPN3.