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Live blog: Cincinnati holds off UNLV, 65-61


Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

UNLV Rebels forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong (34) blocks a shot by Valparaiso Crusaders center Jaume Sorolla (14) during their game Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Updated Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 | 5:11 p.m.

UNLV's rally came up short as the Rebels' turnover issues cropped up again in the final minutes, allowing Cincinnati to pull away for a 65-61 win.

UNLV pulled within 59-56 and had the ball with less than two minutes to play, but back-to-back turnovers by Kris Clyburn and Amauri Hardy — the two Rebels who did the most to spur the comeback — finished off UNLV's hopes. 

Hardy led UNLV with a career-high 22 points, while Clyburn totaled 12 points. Freshman Bryce Hamilton contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

Cincinnati was paced by Keith Williams' 15 points and eight rebounds. 

The Rebels' second straight loss drops the team's overall record to 4-3 on the season. UNLV will have six days off before traveling to Illinois on Dec. 8 for the first road game of the year.

Cincinnati leads UNLV late, 57-52

The Rebels haven't played a great game, but they are making a run in the second half by capitalizing on some unforced Cincinnati turnovers. With 3:37 left, it's Cincinnati 57, UNLV 52.

Amauri Hardy and Kris Clyburn have carried the offense in the second half with 17 combined points. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua just made a pair of free throws (one banked in) to pull UNLV within five, and Amauri Hardy was fouled trying to rebound a Cincinnati miss on the ensuing possession. UNLV is in the double bonus, so Hardy should have two free throws coming up after the timeout.

UNLV cuts Cincy lead to 42-37

Kris Clyburn has caught fire to open the second half, and UNLV has trimmed Cincinnati's lead to 42-37 with 12:40 remaining.

Clyburn started his run with a driving layup, then hit a pair of free throws and a corner 3 to pull UNLV within four. Cincinnati pushed the lead back to nine, but Clyburn just found Amauri Hardy for a fast-break layup to get the deficit back to five points with plenty of time remaining.

Clyburn is now UNLV's leading scorer with 12 points. Hardy has eight.

Rebels trail Cincy after physical first half

After 20 bruising minutes, UNLV finds itself trailing Cincinnati, 33-24 at the half.

UNLV shot just 37.5 percent from the field and committed nine turnovers on 29 possession, but the Rebels played decent enough defense to stay within striking distance. A couple 3-pointers from freshman Joel Ntambwe helped, as did Amauri Hardy's six first-half points.

Cincinnati was led by Cane Broome's eight points, but the Bearcats turned it over seven times themselves to help UNLV hang around.

The good news for the Rebels is that they may have survived the toughest stretch of the game. Shakur Juiston and Mbacke Diong both got into early foul trouble and had to sit for much of the first half, but they with two fouls apiece they should both be back in the lineup to open the second half.

Cincinnati leads UNLV in low-scoring first half

UNLV is still struggling mightily on the offensive end, but a couple buckets from Amauri Hardy have pulled the Rebels within 20-12 with 7:45 left in the first half.

The Rebels are just 5-of-15 from the field so far (1-of-6 from 3-point range), and they've committed an alarming eight turnovers in 19 possessions. Hardy's driving layup and pull-up 3-pointer got UNLV within 17-12, but Cincy guard Justin Jenifer answered with a 3 to make it an 8-point margin.

Marvin Menzies brought Mbacke Diong back for a few minutes despite his two fouls, but Shakur Juiston remains on the bench with two personals.

UNLV searching for first basket against Cincinnati

This game could not have started worse for UNLV. The Rebels are still looking for their first points more than four minutes into the contest, and their two best players are currently on the bench with foul trouble.

UNLV has turned over the ball on four of the first six possessions, and Cincinnati has taken a modest 4-0 lead with 15:51 left in the half. But the most important storyline is the status of Shakur Juiston and Mbacke Diong. Both picked up two quick fouls, forcing Marvin Menzies to bench his two best players just minutes into the game.

How long can the Rebels survive without their starting frontcourt? A made basket would be a good first step.

Three keys for UNLV basketball vs. Cincinnati

UNLV is coming off a horrible offensive performance in Wednesday’s 72-64 loss to Valparaiso, so the Rebels (4-2) could really use a crisp performance in order to get back on track. Unfortunately, Saturday’s opponent happens to be one of the best defensive teams in the nation, so the Rebels will have to be on top of their game if they want to compete.

Can UNLV push Cincinnati (6-1)? Three keys for the game:

Handle pressure

UNLV has a turnover problem, as evidenced by 25 giveaways against an inferior Valparaiso team. Cincinnati is no Valpo, however — under Mick Cronin, the Bearcats are always one of the country’s toughest defensive squads, and this season is no different. Cincy pressures the ball at every opportunity and ranks in the top 50 in turnovers forced (16.3 per game).

The Rebels’ high-usage players — Shakur Juiston, Amauri Hardy, Noah Robotham, to name a few — will have to be wary of exposing the ball against Cincinnati’s defenders. Putting the ball on the floor in traffic is dangerous and could result in another turnover-laden 40 minutes.

Make shots

This is simple advice, but sometimes the game is simple. The Rebels are not a shot-making team, as the roster lacks pure shooters; that means the shooters they do have must come through when given open looks. Robotham is one player who is currently underperforming his career shooting numbers, and freshman Bryce Hamilton probably has to knock down a couple 3’s in order to give UNLV a chance in this one.

Don’t get caught up in Cronin affair

The last time UNLV played a so-called “revenge game,” they tightened up against former Rebels Dwayne Morgan and Todd Simon and ended up in a battle to the finish against Southern Utah. Much of the pregame focus of the Cincinnati game will be on Bearcats coach Mick Cronin and his decision to spurn UNLV during the post-Dave Rice coaching search; that shouldn’t affect the players, who really have no connection to Cronin, and Marvin Menzies should have more important things on his mind than proving himself against Cronin.

The Rebels will be best served to set their emotions aside, let the fans handle the booing and focus on playing their best 40 minutes of the season.

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

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