The major question going into this game is whether UNLV would be able to shoot well enough to offset the production they were going to lose by not having Stephen Zimmerman on the court.
The Rebels answered by having one of their worst shooting nights of the season, but fortunately were able to rely on their defense in second half to secure a come from behind victory against San Jose State 64-61.
UNLV would score the first six points of the game, but wouldn't see another lead until less than ten minutes to go in the second half. They looked slow, tentative and too often were frustrated by San Jose States defense, settling for 3-pointers, instead of attacking the basket.
To San Jose States credit they came out and attacked a shorthanded, lethargic UNLV team. They forced them to play in their half court offense, and generally outworked them in ever facet of the game. You don't often see Derrick Jones beat down the lane and out jumped like this:
Derrick Jones is the guy who gets lost on the screen, but the lane is wide open behind him pic.twitter.com/xXaVDF2fWW— Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) February 11, 2016
The Rebels would go into half time trailing 37 to 24 after shooting 9 of 30 from the field and 3 for 13 from 3-point range. At one point going five minutes with out a field goal. San Jose, on the other hand would shoot would shoot 15 of 36 and 4 for 11 from 3-point range. However, as was the case in Fresno, UNLV would come out inspired in the second half.
With the deficit at 13, the Rebels opened the second half with pressure defense and trying to push tempo at every opportunity. This allowed them to generate steals and get out in transition for easy buckets as opposed to sitting back in the half court offense as they did in the first half.
UNLV would continue to chip away at the Spartans advantage, finally taking their first lead since the beginning of the first half, after a San Jose State turnover on an inbounds pass. Jalen Poyser would get the ball, but miss the open 3-point, thankfully for the Rebels, Derrick Jones was there for the offensive board and he found a wide open Patrick McCaw who drained the go ahead three to give the Rebels a 51-50 lead.
Patrick McCaw hits a go-ahead 3 and gets a lift from Stephen Zimmerman pic.twitter.com/EVOPcxS3Ct— Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) February 11, 2016
The two sides would continue to trade leads throughout a foul-plagued final five minutes of the game, with UNLV finally seizing control with 50 seconds left after a Jerome Seagears lay up gave them a 61-58 point lead.
San Jose State would be forced to foul and with 6 seconds left they would have the ball, down just three, 61-64. Fortunately, they would not be able to get the shot off, securing the victory for the Runnin' Rebels.
The Rebels received another impressive game from Ike Nwamu, who scored 15, but the player of the night for UNLV was Derrick Jones who finish with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
The Spartans were paced Brandon Clark, who finished with a team high 15 points and Princeton Onwas, who chipped in 13.
UNLV will look to continue to build some momentum against an inconsistent Colorado State squad on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack.
San Jose State will be traveling to face New Mexico, who is coming off back to back losses to San Diego State and Utah State.