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Blog: UNLV finishes off 86-78 win at rival UNR

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Tom R. Smedes / AP

UNLV’s Amauri Hardy shoot over UNR’s Hallice Cooke, right, in Reno, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 | 10:12 p.m.

UNLV scored the final eight points of the game to secure an 86-78 win at UNR.

Jovan Mooring finished with a career-high 31 points on 11-of-20 shooting (6-of-11 3FGs), and Shakur Juiston posted 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Brandon McCoy made a pair of clutch free throws to break a 78-78 tie with less than two minutes to play, and Mooring took over from there, hitting a short jumper and knocking down a pair of free throws to carry UNLV home.

The Rebels are now 17-7 on the season and 6-6 in Mountain West play.

Rebels holding onto 76-70 lead at UNR

Just when it looked like this was going to turn into a back-and-forth affair down the stretch, UNLV hit five straight shots and went on an 11-0 run to take a 76-70 lead with 3:51 to play.

Jovan Mooring continues to torch the UNR defense, as he canned another difficult and-1 jumper and now has a game-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting.

UNLV's lead grew as large as 76-67, but Lindsey Drew just hit a 3-pointer to cut the margin to six points before the final media timeout.

Brandon McCoy still has not re-entered the game since picking up his fourth foul at the 15-minute mark.

UNLV clinging to 65-62 lead at UNR

With 7:29 to play, UNLV is holding onto a 65-62 lead thanks to another hot stretch for Jovan Mooring.

Mooring hit a long 3-pointer to beat the shot clock, then hit another 3 in transition just seconds later to push UNLV's lead to 65-57.

UNR scored the next five points, however, and Kendall Stephens will be shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout.

Brandon McCoy hasn't played since the 15-minute mark, when he picked up his fourth foul, but backup big man Mbacke Diong was also just tagged with his fourth, so Marvin Menzies may send McCoy back in after the timeout and see how long he lasts.

Mooring has a game-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range.

UNLV leads at UNR, 48-47

For the first time tonight, UNLV is facing some real adversity. Not only has UNR gone on a run to trim the Rebels' lead to 48-47 with 15:35 to play, but Brandon McCoy just picked up his fourth foul.

Mbacke Diong has been effective in McCoy's place tonight, with three points and two rebounds in six minutes, but playing without McCoy for a long stretch will certainly change things for UNLV.

UNLV leads UNR, 41-34, at half

Jovan Mooring came to play tonight, and the Rebels are following his lead. After a first half that saw UNLV play with maximum intensity for 20 minutes, the Rebels have a 41-34 lead at UNR.

Mooring is setting the tone with his defense and hustle, and he also made 4-of-7 from 3-point range in the first half. He's got a game-high 14 points.

The Rebels have also enjoyed a big advantage under the basket, as big men Brandon McCoy and Shakur Juiston have combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds. UNLV has an 11-0 advantage in second-chance points.

The UNLV lead reached 10 points after a Juiston tip-in with about eight seconds to play in the half, but Cody Martin dribbled down the court and hit a pull-up 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring UNR back within seven points at the break.

UNLV leads UNR, 23-21

UNLV is a much better team when Jovan Mooring is making shots, and right now, the senior guard is making shots.

Mooring has made 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and with 6:57 left in the first half, UNLV has a 23-21 lead at UNR.

UNR has made it a priority to double- and triple-team Brandon McCoy in the post, which has left UNLV's shooters open on the perimeter. So far, only Mooring has really been able to cash in, as the rest of the Rebels are 0-of-3 from distance.

At the other end, UNR has relied on the 3-point shot almost exclusively. The Wolf Pack have already attempted 12 from long range, though they've only made three so far.

UNLV, UNR tied early

Both teams spent the opening minutes trying to rein in their energy, and with 14:29 left in the first half, UNLV and UNR are tied, 7-7.

It took more than four minutes for Brandon McCoy to receive his first offensive touch, and when he finally got the ball, he launched an overeager 3-pointer that missed. Shakur Juiston has two inside baskets for the Rebels, and Jovan Mooring hit a 3 on the opening possession to account for the rest of UNLV's scoring.

The Rebels caught a break before the game even started, as UNR star forward Caleb Martin was unable to suit up due to a foot injury. Martin came into the game averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game.

Three keys for UNLV basketball at UNR

Is UNLV vs. UNR officially a rivalry? It's been a long while since the two teams were good at the same time, and right now it's the Wolf Pack who have the upper hand, as they come into Wednesday's matchup in Reno with a 20-4 record (9-1 in the Mountain West) and a No. 23 ranking in the AP Top 25.

Can the Rebels (16-7, 5-5 MWC) somehow engineer an upset and inject some real animosity into this rivalry? Three keys to watch:

Defend the 3

UNR's success is tied directly to its 3-point shooting. Coach Eric Musselman has assembled a roster of versatile offensive players, and every position is capable of stretching beyond the arc and making long-distance shots. Junior wing Caleb Martin is an absolute killer on the offensive end, as he averages 19.8 points per game while making a ridiculous 46.9 percent of his 3-point shots. UNLV doesn't have a good matchup for Martin, as he measures in at 6-foot-7 and will be able to shoot over all of the Rebels' perimeter defenders, but it will be up to coach Marvin Menzies to devise a game plan that keeps Martin — and the rest of UNR's sharpshooters — from draining too many 3's.

McCoy matchup

UNLV has one clear advantage in this game: Size. UNR doesn't have a player taller than 6-foot-7, and there are no true big men on the roster. That means Rebels center Brandon McCoy (7-foot, 250 pounds) should have his way on the offensive end. McCoy has been terrific lately, averaging 22.3 points over his last three games while shooting 65.0 percent from the field, so look for Menzies to emphasize getting him the ball close to the basket against smaller defenders.

The flip side is that McCoy will be tasked with defending smaller players on the perimeter at the other end of the floor. If he's incapable of doing that, it might not matter how much of a scoring advantage he has, because the Wolf Pack will counter McCoy's 2-point baskets with open 3-pointers of their own. If McCoy is passable on defense, he'll be free to play big minutes and score at will.

Intensity

Menzies was pleased by the way UNLV played in its other rivalry game so far this season, an 88-78 home win over San Diego State on Jan. 27. The coach wants his players to treat rivalry games differently and bring an extra touch of intensity, which is something UNR has done annually in this series. The Lawlor Events Center in Reno is sure to be loud and oppressive on Wednesday night (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network), so the Rebels' reaction will be key. If they can match UNR's energy early in the game and not get flooded out by a quick deluge of 3-pointers, there's a chance they'll be able to hang around and make this a game to remember.

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

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