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UNLV Basketball:

Rebels’ late-game execution plaguing them in narrow league losses

UNLV doesn’t have any time to sulk after its third straight defeat as Utah State comes into the Mack on Saturday for a 5 p.m. tip-off

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L.E. Baskow

New Mexico guard Jordan Goodman (2) gets off a shot just past UNLV forward Christian Wood (5) during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, January 21, 2015.

Here’s how close UNLV has been. Through six Mountain West games, the Rebels have lost five, yet their scoring margin is still +1.7 per game.

Obviously it helps when the lone victory is against San Jose State, the team that the Rebels and everyone else can wallop, but it’s one example of why UNLV coach Dave Rice felt Wednesday night that his team is so close to getting over the hump, yet, “it feels a million miles away.”

The Rebels (10-9, 1-5) return to action Saturday at 5 p.m. against Utah State (11-7, 4-2). The game will air on CBS Sports Network.

Since they’re close games, one of the keys to the Rebels’ recent losses has been their performance down the stretch. Whether it was botching offensive sets or more often failing to get a stop, UNLV hasn’t played well enough to finish games with a victory.

Here’s a little closer look at the last five minutes of each conference loss and how it got away from the Rebels:

    • Wyoming 76, UNLV 71

      UNLV’s largest lead: Eight, with 4:26 left in the first half

      With 5 minutes remaining, Wyoming led 63-59. From that point on …

      • Wyoming shot 2-of-4 (1-1 on 2s, 1-3 on 3s) and 8-for-10 on FTs, with one offensive rebound for one second-chance point

      • UNLV shot 5-of-9 (3-5 on 2s, 2-4 on 3s) and 0-1 on FTs, with one offensive rebound for two second-chance points

      The key play was … Wyoming’s Charles Hankerson Jr. slipping a screen for an easy layup to put the Cowboys ahead by five with 25 seconds remaining. Chris Wood countered with a 3-pointer but the Cowboys’ Riley Grabau hit his free throws to ice the game.

    • UNR 64, UNLV 62

      UNLV’s largest lead: Six, with 7:47 left in the second half

      With 5 minutes remaining, UNLV led 54-49. From that point on …

      • UNR shot 5-of-9 (3-7 on 2s, 2-2 on 3s) and 3-for-3 on FTs, with four offensive rebounds for six second-chance points and five points off two turnovers

      • UNLV shot 1-of-5 (0-3 on 2s, 1-2 on 3s) and 5-for-6 on FTs, with one offensive rebound for no second-chance points and four points off two turnovers

      The key play was … Marqueze Coleman hitting a long jump shot with five seconds remaining. The Rebels made two key defensive errors on the play: Pat McCaw was supposed to go over the ball screen, not under like he did, and Wood was supposed to pressure the ball handler but he stayed back. It resulted in an open look that Coleman knocked down for the game-winner.

    • Boise State's Derrick Marks heads past UNLV's Goodluck Okonoboh during the second half in Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Boise State won 82-73 in overtime.

      Boise State 82, UNLV 73, OT

      UNLV’s largest lead: Six, with 15:39 left in the first half

      With 5 minutes remaining, Boise State led 64-59. From that point on (including overtime) …

      • Boise State shot 5-of-13 (5-12 on 2s, 0-1 on 3s) and 6-for-7 on FTs, with two offensive rebounds for two second-chance points and six points off of six turnovers

      • UNLV shot 4-of-10 (1-2 on 2s, 3-8 on 3s) and 3-for-5 on FTs, with no offensive rebounds and no points scored off one turnover

      The key play was … Rashad Vaughn settling for a long 3-point attempt at the end of regulation instead of driving the ball inside, which was the called play. UNLV settled a lot at the end of the game, attempting eight of its final 10 shots beyond the arc. Once the Rebels got to overtime they looked as bad as many of them had in the first half, committing six turnovers and basically giving up while Boise State cruised to victory.

    • San Diego State forward Angelo Chol rips down a rebound against UNLV forward Goodluck Okonoboh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

      San Diego State 53, UNLV 47

      UNLV’s largest lead: 11, with 17:36 left in the second half

      With 5 minutes remaining, San Diego State led 45-43. From that point on …

      • San Diego State shot 3-of-4 (3-3 on 2s, 0-1 on 3s) and 2-for-3 on FTs, with no offensive rebounds

      • UNLV shot 1-of-7 (1-2 on 2s, 0-4 on 3s) and 2-2 on FTs, with no offensive rebounds and two points scored off one turnover

      The key play was … It’s tough to isolate just one because the entire ending was basically UNLV missed shot, San Diego State defensive rebound, San Diego State made shot. Rinse, wash, repeat. But out of a timeout with 2:28 remaining and the Aztecs leading by six, UNLV wasn’t able to get the ball inside and got only a missed 3-point attempt from Cody Doolin. The Aztecs grabbed the rebound, drew a foul and effectively ended the game at the free-throw line.

    • New Mexico 71, UNLV 69

      UNLV’s largest lead: Six, with 11:56 left in the first half

      With 5 minutes remaining, New Mexico led 63-60. From that point on …

      • New Mexico shot 4-of-6 (all 2-point attempts) and no FTs, with two offensive rebounds for four second-chance points and two points off two turnovers

      • UNLV shot 3-of-4 (2-2 on 2s, 1-2 on 3s) and 2-for-2 on FTs, with one offensive rebound for two points and no points scored off one turnover

      The key play was … While Deshawn Delaney’s layup attempt rattled around the rim, no one boxed out New Mexico’s Jordan Goodman, who swooped in for an easy putback attempt and the game-winning points with 9.1 seconds left. UNLV had a foul to give but decided not to use it, which would have been fine if the Rebels put a body on Goodman.

      UNLV called a timeout to set up its final possession. Jelan Kendrick was the secondary option to receive the inbounds pass, and once he was in the front court he had the option to drive or kick out to a shooter. Kendrick went toward the basket and had the ball stripped before he could ever attempt a shot.

    Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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