Just less than a month ago, Boise State held a comfortable 40-32 lead at intermission at the Thomas & Mack Center, but unraveled against Patrick McCaw's Rebels and was outscored by 18 in the second half.
Wednesday night at the Taco Bell Arena, the Broncos were able to flip the script, outhustling the Rebels en route to a 81-69 victory.
Anthony Drmic continued his hot shooting, guiding Boise State (18-10, 9-6) with 21 points, six rebounds and four 3s. Mikey Thompson recorded the fourth 20-point outing of his career and James Webb III, who momentarily left the floor with an apparent knee injury, scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the year.
Derrick Jones Jr. unloaded for 25 points (1 point shy of tying his career-high), was 7 of 8 from the field and went 11/12 from the charity stripe. UNLV, fresh off a thrilling overtime victory over Nevada on Saturday, has now dropped six of the last nine games but is 9-8 since naming Todd Simon interim coach.
The story of the night will be the reemergence of Anthony Drmic. The 23-year old Australian playing in his fifth season with the Broncos has thrived in an unfamiliar role. Prior to Boise State's matchup against Colorado State, Drmic started his first 122 career games, but has come off the bench in each of the last four games. Since the move, Drmic is averaging 20 points a game, more than doubling his 9.8 average in the previous six games.
After a very difficult mid-season stretch, struggling both on the court and with nagging injuries, Drmic appears to be in better health and is now performing to his standards. Drmic is only 59 points away from becoming Boise State's all-time leading scorer, a benchmark that seemed out of reach after a rough January. However, with three regular season games remaining as well as the Mountain West tournament, it is definitely attainable for the Aussie.
As for the Rebels, Todd Simon's squad showed a great amount of resilience playing 40 minutes with only a 6-man rotation. Stephen Zimmerman, Ben Carter and Dwayne Morgan are all out with various injuries, amounting to an absent 24.7 points and 19.7 rebounds on a nightly basis. With a healthy core, the Rebels have enough talent to compete with any team in the conference. But with only six scholarship players UNLV will continue to struggle with fatigue, evident in Wednesday night's loss in which the Rebels were outscored 46-35 in the second half.
UNLV drops to 7-9 in conference play, three games behind Nevada in the loss column for fifth place which guarantees a bye in the Mountain West tournament, which is played in UNLV's own backyard. The Rebels takes on Wyoming on Saturday as they continue to work short-handed.
Boise State picks up a much-needed victory protecting homecourt. The Broncos are third in the league standings, one game back from Fresno State in the loss column. BSU faces its toughest matchup of the conference season Saturday, heading to Viejas Arena in hopes of upsetting defensive-minded San Diego State, the first place team in the league with a near-perfect 13-1 record.