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Colorado State sends Rebels reeling, 69-49


L.E. Baskow

UNLV guard Jalen Poyser (5) battles for a loose ball with Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo (2) and teammate UNLV forward Tyrell Green (3) nearby during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017.

Marvin Menzies thought he had a secret weapon for Saturday’s home game against Colorado State.

Walk-on freshman guard Larry Bush had been shooting very well in recent practices, so Menzies and his staff game-planned to give Bush some playing time if the opportunity presented itself against CSU. As it turned out, the Rebels found themselves trailing, 35-24, and in need of an offensive spark with 17:45 remaining in the second half.

Bush was locked and loaded, and Menzies sent him in with instructions to let it fly.

Over the next four minutes, Bush proceeded to miss all four of his field goal attempts as Colorado State went on a 10-3 run to all but put the game away.

That’s not to pin everything on Bush, as that’s pretty much how things went for all of the Rebels in the 69-49 loss — their fourth consecutive defeat. UNLV couldn’t make a shot (18-of-59 from the field, 4-of-24 from 3-point range, 9-of-17 from the free-throw line) and couldn’t make any important defensive stops, and now the Rebels find themselves 10-14 on the season, 3-8 in Mountain West play and alone at the bottom of the league standings with seven games remaining.

UNLV’s last four games had gone down to the wire, and Menzies said he came into Saturday expecting another close contest. The first-year coach said he was surprised that his players were routed so thoroughly.

“I thought we had a pretty good game plan,” Menzies said. “Shoot, man, [Colorado State] made some tough shots. I thought we were really good defensively the first half. In the second half, the dam broke. Sometimes when you don’t make shots on your end, you don’t defend with the same intensity, and that’s a maturity thing. That’s an experience thing. I expect more of these guys. [I expect them] to fight for a full 40 minutes.”

The Rebels were ice-cold from start to finish. Colorado State opened the game with a 9-1 run, and after Rams’ forward Emmanuel Omogbo scored seven straight points midway through the first half, the Rebels trailed 21-10.

UNLV responded with a 14-5 run to trim the deficit to two points late in the half, but that was the only sign of life from the home team. Colorado State scored the last five points of the half to take a 31-24 lead into the break, and the Rebels never really threatened again.

Gian Clavell carried the Rams to the finish line from there, scoring 15 of his 18 points in the second half to snuff out UNLV for good.

Over the final 20 minutes, UNLV made just 9-of-32 from the field (28.1 percent) and 2-of-16 from the 3-point line (12.5 percent). Jovan Mooring went 1-of-9 from 3-point range, while Jalen Poyser went 0-of-4. Colorado State made 10-of-28 from long distance (35.7 percent).

Menzies had no answers for the Rebels’ continued shooting woes.

“I can’t tell you how to put it any other way, we just missed shots,” Menzies said. “I thought we had pretty good looks. If you guys look at the film, you’ll see we had a lot of wide-open shots … It’s hard to watch wide-open shots get missed at this level. It’s tough.”

Tyrell Green was the only Rebel who put forth a passable performance on the offensive end, totaling a team-high 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Poyser scored nine on 4-of-10 shooting, while Mooring, Zion Morgan and Christian Jones added seven apiece. Bush went scoreless in his four-minute stint and didn’t play again.

Omogbo finished with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. J.D. Paige scored nine points and connected on a 4-point play that gave CSU its largest lead of the game, 66-38, with 5:32 to play.

UNLV came into the day on a three-game losing streak, but the Rebels' competitiveness in those defeats gave reason to believe the team was making progress. After being blown out at home by Colorado State — a squad with just seven active scholarship players — Menzies was left wondering whether the Rebels can bounce back.

“Losing is just not good,” he said. “You’ve got to really see how your guys respond to it. They had been fighting. We lost three in a row, but they kept fighting every game. Now this is a different kind of loss, so now you’re going to be tested.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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