Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 | 5 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 | 8:17 p.m.
UNR 74, UNLV 71
Deonte Burton scored 29 points, and UNLV didn't play nearly good enough at either end of the floor in a 74-71 defeat that wasn't close to being that close most of the second half. The Rebels have now lost two conference games in a row at home.
Up until the final-minute flurry, UNLV had only made five field goals in the second half. Meanwhile, Burton was stellar all night and Michael Perez had the best game of his short UNR career with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He took advantage of Kendall Smith on multiple backdoor cuts for dunks.
UNLV shot 35 percent from the field, including 20 percent on 3-point attempts. Surprisingly, the Rebels were great at the free-throw line, hitting 24-of-30. That was one of only a few highlights.
Roscoe Smith had his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Bryce Dejean-Jones led the Rebels with 15 points but he shot only 4-for-14. Fans booed midway through the second half and started leaving shortly thereafter.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from this devastating Rebels' defeat.
The only way UNLV can get better at executing in close games is to play in another one. So far, the Rebels are 0-4 in those situations, and while they need the work, they would prefer not to get it tonight at home against UNR.
The Rebels (10-5, 1-1) are minus-8 tonight against the Wolf Pack (7-8, 2-0). The game tips off at 6:15 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network.
While Air Force was predicted to finish lower than UNR, the Falcons have a history of tormenting UNLV that only continued with last Saturday’s upset in the Mack. UNLV has defeated its in-state rival eight straight times and holds a commanding 56-19 lead in the all-time series.
If the Rebels needed an extra reason to be motivated for this game, Air Force handed that to them five days ago. Over his first two seasons, UNLV coach Dave Rice only lost one home conference game — Fresno State in 2013.
So to start 0-1 in that category this season is new territory for Rice and the few players who were a part of last year’s run. Another home loss in Mountain West play would be devastating to any league or postseason hopes, especially if it comes to one of the league’s lower-tier teams.
That’s where UNR finds itself. Coach David Carter has a couple of pieces — namely guard Deonte Burton and forward AJ West — but the Wolf Pack aren’t close to where they want to be yet. They have very little depth, with Carter playing only seven guys each of the last two games.
Bern’s prediction: After this game, UNLV is off for a week before back-to-back trips to New Mexico and San Diego State. If the Rebels are going to have the confidence required to face that gauntlet, they could really use a victory similar to those in their recent seven-game winning streak. I think they get one tonight. UNLV 76, UNR 64
Season: ATS 11-4, O/U 10-4-1