Two days removed from a 29-point victory in the first meeting of the two-game series, the Nevada Wolf Pack and UNLV Rebels locked horns in a highly-competitive, gritty showdown inside Lawlor Events Center on Tuesday evening.
Nevada outlasted the Rebels, earning the 72-62 victory in Lawlor Events Center. The Pack extended their win streak to a program-best eight games against their intrastate rival.
Nevada trailed 58-53 with 5:44 left after UNLV guard Nick Blake canned a shot-clock beating corner 3-pointer — his only make from deep on the contest.
It responded with rattling off 12 straight points and closed the final 5:44 on a 19-4 run. Star guard Grant Sherfield and Zane Meeks, who finished with a career-high 19 points off the bench, accounted for all but two points in that stretch.
Tuesday was a tale of two halves for the Pack.
They shot just 26.7 percent in the first half, their worst shooting half this year. In the second half, they shot 62.5 percent — their second-best shooting half on the year.
Nevada went from their worst shooting half (27%) to their best (63% matches their first half on Sunday). Coach Alford said getting downhill and playing inside out was big. Thought they were playing around the perimeter too much in the first. Great job at the FT line at 20-22.— Alex Margulies (@marguliespxp) February 3, 2021
Though it was without its best player for the second straight game due to an ankle injury in Bryce Hamilton (18.3 ppg), UNLV held its ground defensively better than it did Sunday.
UNLV allowed 14 3-pointers (on 24 attempts) in the first meeting; they allowed just six (on 23 attempts) Tuesday. Nevada shot 56.4 percent Sunday; it shot just 43.1 percent Tuesday. Although, Nevada did get to the free throw line more, shooting three more free throws (22-to-19).
Nevada improves to 12-7 and 7-5 in the Mountain West this year. UNLV drops to 6-9 with a 3-5 Mountain West record.
In addition to Meeks’ career shooting night, he added a team-high eight rebounds. Grant Sherfield tallied 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-6 from beyond the arc with a team-most four assists. Warren Washington added 15 points — 14 coming in the second half — on 5-of-7 shooting and six boards.
UNLV shot 43.3 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.
Moses Wood, a graduate of Galena High School in Reno, Nev., tallied a team-high 16 points 4-of-11 shooting from the floor. He added seven rebounds.
Caleb Grill had 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Blake added 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting with three assists. Cheikh Mbacke Diong stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
The Pack, who made eight out of their first 12 shots Sunday, had a much cooler start from the floor. Nevada missed its first nine 3-point attempts and hit five of its first 20 shots in the first eight minutes; UNLV was not much better in that stretch, beginning 5-for-15 (1-for-9 from deep).
Jenkins’ wide-open layup gave the Rebels their first lead of the game at 9-8. Sherfield’s make from outside — the team’s first 3-pointer of the game — gave Nevada a 14-13 lead with 7:34 remaining.
Jenkins’ alley-oop feed to Diong gave UNLV the 21-16 advantage with 4:02 to go in the opening half.
After surrendering 46 points in the first half Sunday, UNLV surrendered just 26 Tuesday with a four-point advantage. Nevada was held to just 26.7 percent shooting and 18.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Rebels shot 45.5 percent with a 41.7 3-point percentage.
After a 3-pointer put UNLV ahead 33-26, Nevada surged on an 11-2 run to reclaim the 37-35 advantage — prompting a Rebel timeout. Washington has seven of the team’s 11 points in that stretch.
Meeks’ three-point play conversion gave Nevada the 44-39 lead with 13:20 remaining. UNLV replied with seven consecutive points to re-take the lead.
The back-and-forth battle continued.
Two 3-pointers from Sherfield and Nevada’s Desmond Cambridge gave Nevada the 50-49 advantage with 9:17 remaining. Edoardo Del Cadia’s layup followed by Blake’s 3-pointer awarded the Rebels the 58-53 lead with 5:44 remaining.
Nevada rattled off 12 straight to take the 65-58 lead with 1:18 to go. UNLV the deficit to five in its last-ditch effort, but that was the closest it got for the remainder of the game.
Nevada will have a quick turnaround. It will host a two-game series against Boise State, who boasts a conference-best 10-1 Mountain West record (14-2 overall), beginning Friday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. PST on Fox Sports 1.
UNLV heads home for a two-game series against the Air Force Falcons Saturday at 1 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network. The Rebels are 5-2 at home this season.