Everyone knows the history of Kansas basketball; championships, All-American players and the rich tradition of Jayhawk basketball. When UNLV was scheduled to play Kansas during winter break, it was evident that it would be a tough matchup between an experienced strong team vs. a young new team.
The Jayhawks’ (11-1) experience, speed and size was evident tonight as they beat the young Runnin’ Rebels (7-6) 71-53 at the Thomas and Mack Center.
“I love these kids and I really think they’re going to surprise people in the conference,” said head coach Marvin Menzies. “We just have to get better quickly now since some of the mistakes we made tonight were the on-court discipline mistakes that we have to short up quickly. The second half was obviously a much better effort.”
Kansas opened the game with Devonte' Graham scoring the first four points and started on a 9-2 run before Uche Ofoegbu drained a three to extend the 3-point streak to 987. Unfortunately, the first 10 minutes of the first half was all Kansas, as the were up 17 points.
.@UcheSuave drains the three from the top of the arc to extend the streak #987AndCounting pic.twitter.com/9PM4iuqakW— UNLV Basketball (@TheRunninRebels) December 23, 2016
In the first half, the Jayhawks’ Josh Jackson and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored in double figures with 14 and 10 points apiece, respectively.
Turnovers continue to be a problem for UNLV, who committed nine turnovers in the first half and a total of 13 as well as missed free throws being a problem too, 14 total and making just 41 percent of them.
On the night, the Jayhawks shot 44% from the field, compared to just under 35% for UNLV and controlled the boards, out rebounding the undersized Rebels 45 to 40.
It looked like UNLV was in contention to come back, at one point scoring eight straight points before Bill Self called a timeout with up by 12, but Mykhailiuk (20 points, 4-6 from three) sealed the game with a made three pointer under 2:30 minutes left in the game. Frank Mason III proved was at it again, scoring 13 points and eight assists.
Along with Mykhailiuk in double digits, the Jayhawks finished with three players scoring in double figures. Frank Mason III proved was at it again, scoring 13 points and eight assists. with Jackson leading all scorers with 21 points, one shy of tying his career high. He also provided the highlight of the night throwing down this thunderous dunk:
Here is your dunk of the night! Josh Jackson brings the house down with this alley-oop! #kubball #jayhawks pic.twitter.com/rpM219JAlg— Andrew Baker (@abakesports) December 23, 2016
It was not just an off night for UNLV, it was evident that the fouling was just too much. Tyrell Green and Jovan Mooring each had four fouls, which is most likely why Mooring only scored five points. Green finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds and was 2-5 on threes.
Jalen Poyser, who averages 14.6 PPG, scored all 10 points in the second half and was just 1-5 on threes.
It was impressive to see the Runnin’ Rebels fighting until the end and if they continue to never give up and play as one, conference play should be interesting to watch.
“Even though we were down, we still were fighting to get back and as you see we did make that run and try to come back,” said Christian Jones, who came back from a three-game absence. “We just had to stick to our defensive pressure and I think it would’ve been a good game.”
The Runnin’ Rebels head to Fort Collins to take on the Rams of Colorado State Wednesday, December 28th in the first Mountain West game of the season for both squads. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 pm PST on ESPNU.