Published Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 | 3 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 | 6:22 p.m.
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UNLV 65, Wyoming 42
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Khem Birch pulled down a career high 14 rebounds to go along with 12 points and UNLV (21-7, 8-5) cruised to a 65-42 victory at Arena-Auditorium against Wyoming (18-9, 4-9).
Three other Rebels finished in double-figure scoring, including Mike Moser, who with 11 points scored the most for him since a home victory against Air Force. The other two were Bryce Dejean-Jones (11 points) and Katin Reinhardt (10 points). Anthony Bennett came out of the game after four minutes with what the team is calling a left shoulder injury and he never returned. I'll post a story updating his status as soon as we talk to the team.
Without Leonard Washington (ankle), the team's interior force, the Cowboys didn't have much of an answer for anything the Rebels did. The A-A was as quiet as a junior high game for most of the evening, minus the moment with about five minutes left that a Wyoming fan tried to challenge Cowboys coach Larry Shyatt to a fight. The fan was thrown out.
UNLV shot 50 percent for the game while the Cowboys could barely muster half of that, finishing at 28.8. And after taking three 3-point attempts before the first media break, UNLV attempted only six more the rest of the way, instead recognizing their extreme advantage in the paint and taking advantage of it.
The Rebels hit the road again Saturday at UNR, and with this game in the books they should do so with more confidence than they usually travel with. Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for an update on Bennett's status and a full report from the Rebels' victory.
UNLV 56, Wyoming 32
7:00 remaining in the second half
LARAMIE, Wyo. — This is far from an overly impressive UNLV victory, but that doesn't make it any less important. The only reason it's not impressive is that Wyoming's roster is so depleted. The Rebels are holding up their end.
This is going to be the first easy victory of Dave Rice's Mountain West road career. Two of the first three came in overtime, and the other was a seven-point victory earlier this year at San Diego State. This is what UNLV needed, an uneventful road trip that will keep them in the hunt for second place in the league standings.
UNLV 38, Wyoming 21
15:12 remaining in the second half
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Wyoming's Derek Cooke Jr is now 5-for-5. The rest of the Cowboys' starters are 2-for-25, an abysmal shooting percentage that is proving far too much for them to overcome.
Cooke's surge has pulled Wyoming a little closer in the opening minutes of the second half, though UNLV still has plenty of breathing room with which to work. UNLV's Anthony Bennett started the second half on the bench in his warmup and at this point it'd be a surprise if they bring him back into the game. No reason to risk what the team is calling a sore shoulder.
UNLV 32, Wyoming 12
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Mike Moser has seven points, Khem Birch has 10 rebounds and UNLV goes into halftime at Arena-Auditroium with a commanding 20-point lead.
The Cowboys, who lost Luke Martinez back in January, are playing without Leonard Washington today due to an ankle injury. Those are Wyoming's two best players, and without Washington inside, UNLV is owning the rebounding battle to the tune of 29-11.
Other ugly numbers include the Cowboys' shooting percentage (17.8%, 5-for-28) and points in the paint (UNLV leads 20-6). The most negative thing you can say about the Rebels' performance is that they're still not valuing the basketball very well, with nine turnovers, maybe half of which weren't forced by defensive pressure.
Anthony Bennett played only four minutes in the first half because he banged up his left shoulder. UNLV will look at it closer at halftime but if there's even a single bit of doubt, there's no reason to put him back in the game. The Rebels' bench players are doing just fine and would be more than capable of bringing this one home.
In addition to Moser, there are three Rebels with at least six points scored, and as a team they're shooting 45.2 percent from the field.
The Rebels haven't had even one easy road conference victory under coach Dave Rice. As long as they don't self combust in the second half, that's exactly what they'll get today.
UNLV 23, Wyoming 10
7:35 remaining in the first half
LARAMIE, Wyo. — UNLV coach Dave Rice said the other day that Mike Moser will play exclusively at power forward the rest of the season. Today's he's getting a lot of time at that spot while Anthony Bennett rests on the bench.
Moser has a team-leading seven points along with three rebounds in eight minutes. Bennett has played only four minutes, and although he does have one foul, my guess is his rest is more due to the fact UNLV doesn't need much from him today. Wyoming is a beaten-up team that's playing without its two best players from the start of the season. The Rebels' second team has done very well against the best the Cowboys have to offer, and you get the feeling today those guys (meaning no starters) would be enough for UNLV.
UNLV 9, Wyoming 5
15:55 remaining in the first half
LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Rebels scored their first seven points on second-chance opportunities, winning the 50/50 chances that are so valuable to a team on the road.
Without Leonard Washington in this game, it's going to be really hard for Wyoming to keep UNLV from doing what it wants both scoring- and rebounding-wise in the paint. The Rebels have already taken three 3-point attempts, but if they recognize this clear advantage about 80 percent of their shots from here on out ought to be 2s.
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Leonard Washington, Wyoming's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, is wearing a sweat suit and it doesn't appear that he'll play today. Washington missed the last game with an ankle injury, but the Cowboys were hoping he'd be able to go.
However, the other injured Cowboys, which included two other starters, all appear ready to play.
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That’s essentially what UNLV (20-7, 7-5) is doing today as it prepares to play Wyoming (18-8, 4-8) at 4:30 p.m. Las Vegas time in the Arena-Auditorium.
There are no fewer than four Cowboys with illness or injuries classifying them as day-to-day heading into the game, and according to Ben Frederickson of the Casper Star-Tribune, that hasn’t changed yet. The list includes three starters — Leonard Washington (ankle), Larry Nance Jr. (ill) and Derrious Gilmore (ill) — as well as key reserve Derek Cooke Jr., who’s dealing with a back injury.
Odds are the Rebels will have to play against at least two of those guys and likely more than that, as Washington is the only player who has actually missed a full game. He was scheduled to go through workouts Thursday and Friday, and the expectation is he’ll play, though it may be in a limited role off the bench.
No matter whom the Cowboys play with, UNLV has to prepare to face them all. And more important, the Rebels need to focus on themselves and their troublesome road record.
On Friday, I broke down some of the home/road splits for UNLV and found that while the offense produces at nearly the same pace no matter where it plays, there’s a big gap in the defensive numbers. Put simply, UNLV doesn’t play good enough defense to win away from home.
This has been more obvious in recent losses at Fresno State and at Air Force, where the Rebels trailed by double digits. But when you throw defensive rebounding into that equation, you could say that was a primary culprit in losses at both New Mexico and Colorado State, too.
While the absence of some of the Cowboys could give the Rebels an edge, they’ve already lost to depleted rosters at Boise State and Fresno. They’re running out of time to show something on the road, so no matter who’s playing for Wyoming, UNLV needs to get the job done today.
THE OTHER SIDE
Wyoming projected lineup**
G — Derrious Gilmore, 5-10, Sr, 13.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.4 topg
G — Josh Adams, 6-2, Fr, 7.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 24.2 3fg%
G — Riley Grabau, 6-2, So, 5.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 2.2 apg
F — Larry Nance Jr, 6-8, So, 7.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1 bpg
F — Leonard Washington, 6-7, Sr, 13.5 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Sixth man — F, Derek Cooke Jr, 6-9, So, 1.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 41.7 fg%
*Stats from conference games only
**Assuming everyone who’s eligible is healthy enough to play
Extra storyline: A two-point loss at Wyoming last season started a run of four consecutive road league losses for UNLV last season.
Last meeting: UNLV tried a lot of different lineups with positive results in a 12-point victory against the Cowboys.
Kenpom line: UNLV -1
Vegas line: UNLV -2.5
Bern’s take: In two of the Rebels’ past three games, I picked UNLV to win solely because of the opponent. I didn’t know how healthy Boise State would be, and Fresno State just isn’t very good. The Rebels dropped both of those, so although they absolutely should (and I actually think they will) win this game, I would have no confidence picking them to do so. Wyoming 62, UNLV 60