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Blog: McCoy-led Rebels down San Jose State, 76-67

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels forward Brandon McCoy (44) takes a shot over San Jose State Spartans center Ashtin Chastain (41) at the Thomas and Mack Center Wednesday Jan. 31, 2018.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 | 9:51 p.m.

UNLV defeats San Jose State

Rebels Girls perform during a game between the UNLV Runnin' Rebels and the San Jose State Spartans at the Thomas and Mack Center Wednesday Jan. 31, 2018. Launch slideshow »

Brandon McCoy finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks as the Rebels held off San Jose State, 76-67.

It wasn't an aesthetically pleasing game, but McCoy's overpowering presence in the middle was enough to lead UNLV to victory. The freshman big man made 8-of-13 shots from the field, while the rest of the Rebels combined to go 21-of-45 and 5-of-21 from 3-point range.

UNLV improves to 16-6 on the season and 5-4 in Mountain West play. The next two games will be on the road, as the Rebels will travel to Boise State (Saturday) and UNR (Feb. 7).

UNLV has late lead over San Jose State

Brandon McCoy has been the difference in the second half, and with 4:15 to play, UNLV leads San Jose State, 70-59.

McCoy has 22 points and 15 rebounds, and he has made 8-of-13 shots from the field. His last basket came after he rebounded a Kris Clyburn missed free throw, stepped through the defense and threw down a one-handed dunk.

Outside of the big man, UNLV hasn't been very effective on offense. The Rebels have made just 4-of-17 from 3-point range, though they have recorded 16 assists on 27 made baskets. It's been enough to hold off San Jose State, however.

UNLV leads San Jose State, 50-44

It's not pretty, but midway through the second half, UNLV maintains a 50-44 lead over San Jose State.

The game has been choppy, especially in the second half. Six offensive fouls have already been called since halftime, but it's working for the Rebels, who are starting to exert their will in the paint. Brandon McCoy is up to 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and he has also pulled down 13 rebounds.

Ryan Welage continues to be a problem for UNLV. The Rebels can't keep him out of the paint, an he just nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the game to bring his scoring total to 17 points.

UNLV leads San Jose State at half, 39-34

Jordan Johnson sparked a late 11-0 run, and UNLV will take a 39-34 lead into halftime.

It was a frustrating first half for the Rebels, who couldn't seem to make an outside shot or get a stop in the paint. But Johnson scored two fast-break baskets and assisted on another as UNLV outscored San Jose State 16-6 to close out the half.

Johnson has 11 points and four assists, while Brandon McCoy has 11 points and eight rebounds. UNLV made four of its last six shots and finished at 45.2 percent for the half (14-of-31).

San Jose State had success driving to the basket and scored 16 of its 34 points in the paint. Forward Ryan Welage leads the Spartans with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

San Jose State leads UNLV late in first half

If UNLV carried any momentum from its win over San Diego State on Saturday, it has dissipated by now. San Jose State, which came into tonight's game as an 18-point underdog, has a 30-28 lead over UNLV with 3:58 left in the first half.

The Rebels have struggled defensively, especially in the paint. On the last play before the media timeout, forward Ryan Welage drove from the left wing all the way to the rim for a layup and a foul. He'll shoot the and-1 free throw after the timeout.

Welage leads SJSU with eight points. Jordan Johnson leads UNLV with eight points, but the Rebels are just 10-of-25 from the field.

UNLV stakes out early lead over SJSU

UNLV has recovered after a slow start, as the bench has fueled a 14-2 run that has given the Rebels a 16-12 lead over San Jose State with 11:33 left in the first half.

Kris Clyburn has been effective so far, knocking down a 3-pointer and scoring a fast-break layup to help power the Rebels' run. Brandon McCoy has had his way in the paint, scoring six points on 2-of-3 shooting.

San Jose State opened the game hot and jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to the shooting of Noah Baumann (2-of-2 from 3-point range).

Three keys for UNLV basketball vs. San Jose State

One game can potentially make a big difference during the course of a season, and UNLV's decisive home win over San Diego State on Saturday seems to have worked wonders for the Rebels.

Marvin Menzies' squad looked confident, explosive and downright rejuvenated in that 88-78 victory, which improved the team to 15-6 on the season and 4-4 in Mountain West play. Now, the Rebels' task will be carrying that momentum through to the end of the regular season, and that starts with Saturday's home game against San Jose State.

Three keys to watch:

The road to Welage

San Jose State relies on Ryan Welage to produce most of its offense, as the junior forward averages 18.5 points per game while making 43.2 percent of his 3-pointers. Slowing him down will be UNLV's top priority on defense, but that's not an easy assignment. Welage measures 6-foot-9, and he's quick enough on his feet to make him a matchup problem.

The last time these two teams met, Welage torched the Rebels for 23 points and four assists, but Menzies has been tinkering with the defense since that Jan. 3 game. UNLV has been utilizing more zone concepts, and a matchup zone could be effective in limiting Welage's touches and taking away his space.

No other San Jose State player averages more than 8.7 points. If UNLV can keep Welage from catching fire, there really isn't anyone else that should be able to pick up the slack.

Beck settling in

Freshman forward Tervell Beck got his first career start against San Diego State, and though he didn't post spectacular numbers — five points, three rebounds in 29 minutes — he provided good energy, and he defended his position well enough to say the experiment worked.

Beck's biggest obstacle on Saturday turned out to be his own anxiety.

"I was nervous," Beck said. "Before the game, I told my teammates i was feeling nervous, and they [said], 'Calm down, it's going to come to you.'"

Though Beck had played the vast majority of him minutes at power forward before Saturday, he looked comfortable at small forward. Before Tuesday's practice, he said there isn't much difference between the two positions in his mind, though it took some time getting used to playing with the starters.

For the game, UNLV outscored San Diego State by six points when Beck was on the floor. If he can be a net positive at the small forward position going forward, Beck's role will only increase over the final 10 regular season games.

Respect the opponent

San Jose State may sport an 0-9 record in the Mountain West (and 3-17 overall), but UNLV is the last team that should take this game lightly. When the Rebels traveled to San Jose to open MWC play, SJSU took them to overtime before Jovan Mooring hit a big 3-pointer to lead UNLV to victory.

So the Rebels know that anything less than their best effort on Wednesday could result in disaster.

"Obviously, we can't look past anybody," Menzies said. "We're 4-4. If we're looking past people, then we've got other issues."

The win over San Diego State came at just the right time for the Rebels, who appear to have regained their early-season swag. But following that up with a loss to SJSU would negate everything. If UNLV comes out with energy early in the game, overtime should not be necessary.

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

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