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Blog: Rebels catch fire in 96-70 win

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels guard Amauri Hardy (3) puts up the ball over Pacific’s Zach Cameron at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018.

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018 | 9:02 p.m.

UNLV played tough defense throughout the second half, and a rare 3-point spurt on the offensive end powered the Rebels to a 96-70 win over Pacific.

Pacific was held to 44-percent shooting, while the Rebels made a season-high 11 3-pointers (11-of-27). Four Rebels hit from 3-point range, including Kris Clyburn (3-of-6), Noah Robotham (3-of-5), Shakur Juiston (3-of-4) and Bryce Hamilton (2-of-4).

Clyburn scored 17 points to lead five UNLV players in double figures. Mbacke Diong posted 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Rebels have now won three straight to improve to 3-1 on the season. Next up will be a visit from Southern Utah on Friday.

Rebels build 28-point lead over Pacific

Amauri Hardy is having his best game as a Rebel, and UNLV has pushed its lead over Pacific to 70-42 with 13:21 remaining.

A driving layup by Hardy a moment ago has given him 11 points in 16 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting, and he has also added four assists (with just one turnover). This is the second straight game Hardy has looked good while sharing point guard duties with starter Noah Robotham.

Kris Clyburn is also playing an effective game, as he's got a team-high 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

UNLV leads Pacific at half, 49-32

UNLV used a 17-1 run late in the first half to pull away from Pacific, and at the break the Rebels have a 49-32 lead.

Kris Clyburn has scored a game-high 11 points, but it was Shakur Juiston and Amauri Hardy who powered the Rebels' extended run. Juiston finished the half with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting (2-of-3 from 3-point range), while Hardy came off the bench to tally nine points on 3-of-5 shooting.

Pacific got off to a hot start offensively by making seven of its first 11 shots, but the UNLV defense clamped down after that. The Tigers made just 4-of-14 to close out the half.

The strong defense allowed UNLV to fire up its fast-break attack. By forcing 11 Pacific turnovers, the Rebels were able to get into the open court and convert that into 11 fast-break points.

Juiston 3's give UNLV big lead over Pacific

After UNLV's last game, Shakur Juiston noted that opponents were sagging off him on the perimeter and ceding open 3-point attempts. The 6-foot-8 power forward may have felt disrespected by those scouting reports, because he is 2-of-3 from long distance tonight, and UNLV has built a 40-28 lead over Pacific with 4:40 left in the first half.

Juiston just buried his second trey, a catch-and-shoot bomb from the top of the key, to make it 37-28. Kris Clyburn then followed up with an old-fashioned 3-point play to give the Rebels a double-digit lead.

Juiston now has eight points and three assists on the night.

UNLV leads Pacific early, 21-20

UNLV has come out scorching on the offensive end, and with 11:38 left in the first half the rebels have a 21-20 lead over Pacific.

The Rebels' margin would be wider, but Pacific's perfect 3-point shooting (3-of-3) has kept UNLV from extending the lead. Mbacke Diong has been the star on both ends so far, scoring six points while posting two rebounds and a steal.

UNLV has made 8-of-12 from the field, while Pacific has kept pace with a 7-of-11 shooting performance.

Three keys for UNLV basketball vs. Pacific

UNLV will look to build on its current two-game winning streak when Pacific visits the Thomas & Mack Center today (7 p.m., AT&T SportsNet), but the Tigers won't be a pushover. Three keys that could decide the game:

Developing defense

UNLV has played surprisingly good defense over the last two games, but was that fool's gold against weak opponents? Pacific is a bit of a step up in competition (3-1, No. 137 in KenPom.com ranking) and more than capable of winning at the Mack, so the Rebels will need strong performances from Mbacke Diong, Joel Ntambwe and Shakur Juiston on the defensive end.

Point guard shuffle

Head coach Marvin Menzies has been splitting his point guard minutes between senior Noah Robotham and sophomore Amauri Hardy depending on which guy was playing better at the time, so who will step up and seize the majority of playing time against Pacific? Hardy was the man in the last game, scoring 12 points against Riverside, but Robotham could be a key to the defensive game plan tonight.

Winning time

UNLV hasn't played a close game yet, so we haven't seen the Rebels perform in crunch time. That was an issue last year, when turnovers and poor shot selection cost UNLV several games down the stretch. If this contest comes down to the final possessions, it will be interesting to see who responds in winning time.

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

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