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Resilient Rebels answer the Wolf Pack’s howl by stunning the Pack 86-78

Recap of Wednesday’s nail-bitter.

NCAA Basketball: UNLV at Nevada Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV Running Rebels quieted the 8th largest crowd in Nevada Wolf Pack history at the Lawlor Event Center in Reno, Nevada. Nevada came into the game as the 23rd ranked team in the country but they could not find an answer for UNLV’s Jovan Mooring. He was a one man operator for UNLV needed an answer to a Nevada run. Mooring generously listed at 6-2 from Chicago showed his toughness by keeping the Lawlor crowd quiet for most of the night by more than doubling his season scoring average of 13.5 a game by going for 31pts, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals and he took a couple of charges, he always seemed to have an answer to the gritty team in battle blue.

Caleb Martin and his 19pts a game was sorely missed as the Pack had a hard time scoring the ball, shooting only 38% on field goals (26-68) while hitting 29% from beyond the arc (8-28). Nevada did get five more field goal attempts and 7 more three point attempts and two more free throws but the extra shots were not enough with the Rebels shooting over 50% from field-goal range (32-63) and 33% on 3 pointers (7-21). Another key to beating UNLV according to Nevada coach Musselman was keeping UNLV off the glass, especially the offensive glass. Nevada did an excellent job of that at the beginning of the game, keeping UNLV off the offensive glass for the first 15 minutes, but then the bigger Rebels started hitting the boards and that advantage disappeared.

Lindsay Drew who had a career high 17 points hit two free throws at the 16:38 mark to give Nevada a 45-44 lead. Fourteen seconds later the Rebels Shakur Juiston who scored 19pts and grabbed 12 rebounds for the game, scored to put UNLV up again 46-45. UNLV stopped a spirited Nevada comeback until a Hallice Cooke 3pt shot at the 6:34 mark which gave the Pack a 67-65 lead and Lawlor started to rock. Nevada, which had not lost at home since January of 2017, looked poised to make a run but Jordan Johnson (11pts, 7assists, 2 rebounds) hit a jumper and assisted on a Mooring jumper to give the visiting Rebels a 69-67 lead with just over 6 minutes remaining.

6-7 Kendall Stevens 16 pts, took a pass from Drew and drained a 3pt shot to tie the game with 2:25 left on the clock and Lawlor was in a frenzy. However, that is as close as the Pack would get in the game with Brandon McCoy, (1-6 from the field, 8pts, 8rebs) hitting 4 crucial free throws before fouling out with Lindsay Drew on a double technical with 9 seconds left. Mooring closed out the scoring with 2 free throws to close at the game and give him a career high in points.

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline stuffed the stat sheet by scoring 18pt, grabbing 7 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, and grabbing 2 steals, Cody Martin scored 16pts, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. But the Pack was out rebounded by the Rebels 45-32 and those extra possessions ended up dooming the Pack on a night without their leading scorer.

Nevada is now 19-1 when not ranked and 0-4 when they are but with the San Diego State Aztecs coming to Reno on Saturday there won’t be anytime to dwell on losing to their rivals to the south. The big question is will that walking cast be off Caleb Martin and will his foot be well enough to play Saturday against the Aztecs?