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Blog: Rebels hold on to beat Southern Utah, 76-71

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels guard Bryce Hamilton (13) covers a player during a game against Pacific at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018.

Updated Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 | 9:19 p.m.

UNLV got big plays down the stretch from foul-plagued big men Shakur Juiston and Mbacke Diong, and the Rebels held on for a bruising, 76-71 win over Southern Utah.

Juiston had a key offensive rebound and putback to extend UNLV's lead to 71-65 with 1:15 to play, and with the Rebels protecting a 5-point lead in the final minute, Diong blocked a 3-point attempt to help wrap up UNLV's fourth consecutive win.

Juiston finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds, while Kris Clyburn scored a team-high 14 points.

UNLV has now won four in a row and sits at 4-1 with Valparaiso coming to town on Tuesday. 

UNLV trying to hold off Southern Utah down the stretch

After Southern Utah pulled even with UNLV at 55-55, the Rebels used a 9-0 run to regain control, and with 3:53 remaining UNLV is up, 64-58.

Bryce Hamilton and Tervell Beck are tied for the team lead with nine points apiece, while Amauri Hardy has played very effectively at point guard in racking up seven points.

Southern Utah forward Dwayne Morgan went back to the locker room at one point earlier in the half with an apparent hand injury, but returned to the court just moments ago. Morgan is SUU's leading scorer with 12 points on the night.

UNLV can't shake Southern Utah; lead trimmed to 47-46

Southern Utah is hanging around, and with 12:46 left in the game, UNLV's lead is down to 47-46.

Fouls have been the biggest issue for the Rebels. They have committed 15 personals, and both Shakur Juiston and Mbacke Diong are playing with three fouls.

Offensively, the second half has been ugly for UNLV. The Rebels are 2-of-6 from the field and have already committed three turnovers; for the game, they've committed 13 turnovers.

Dwayne Morgan leads Southern Utah with 12 points, but guard Jason Richardson has hurt UNLV in the second half with three driving layups already. Richardson has seven points on the night.

UNLV leads SUU at half

It was a choppy first half, with 22 fouls called in 20 minutes, but UNLV managed to out-wrestle Southern Utah and take a 36-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Bryce Hamilton has been the most effective UNLV player on the offensive end, leading the way with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting. The Rebels have committed 10 turnovers on 34 possessions, with several coming via offensive fouls. Foul trouble will be key in the second half, as three important Rebels (Shakur Juiston, Mbacke Diong and Amauri Hardy) had to sit out the final minutes of the first half with two fouls apiece.

Southern Utah is trying to out-produce UNLV from the 3-point line, but so far the accuracy has not been there. SUU is 4-of-13 from deep, with Dwayne Morgan (2-of-5 3FGs) having the most success.

UNLV leads SUU, 31-24

The play has been choppy, but with 3:16 remaining in the half, UNLV has a 31-24 lead over Southern Utah.

UNLV has committed eight turnovers on 27 possessions, and three Rebels are in foul trouble, as Mbacke Diong, Shakur Juiston and Amauri Hardy all have two fouls.

Dwayne Morgan continues to make a statement against his former team, as he leads Southern Utah with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting.

UNLV basketball takes early lead against Southern Utah

Slow starts on the offensive end are becoming a regular thing for UNLV, and tonight has been no exception. The Rebels struggled through the opening stretch against Southern Utah, committing three turnovers in the first four minutes, but they have recovered nicely and come back to take a 15-14 lead midway through the first half.

UNLV has missed all three of its 3-point attempts, while Southern Utah is 2-of-6 from the arc. Former Rebel Dwayne Morgan has taken two from long range and made one.

Mbacke Diong has once again been an early bright spot for the Rebels, as he's got four points, two rebounds and a block already. Diong just grabbed an offensive rebound that led to a Tervell Beck driving basket. Beck was fouled on the play and made the free throw to give UNLV its first lead of the game.

Three keys for UNLV basketball vs. Southern Utah

UNLV looks nothing like the team that lost its season opener less than two weeks ago, and the resurgent Rebels will look to continue their strong play with a fourth straight win on Friday against Southern Utah (7p.m., streaming on Mountain West Network).

Three keys for the Rebels:

Keep defending

UNLV’s current three-game winning streak has been mostly owed to their intensity on the defensive end. After holding Pacific to 44.2-percent shooting in another good defensive display, the Rebels now rank 34th in the nation in points allowed per game (60.8).

Southern Utah likes to play fast under former UNLV assistant coach Todd Simon, and the Thunderbirds are currently averaging more than 80 points per game. If UNLV can maintain its intensity on defense and keep SUU under 70 points, that formula has been working for the Rebels lately.

Efficient offense

The Rebels probably aren’t going to make 11 3-pointers again tonight, as they did in the win over Pacific, so it will be important to value every possession. That means low turnovers, high-percentage shots inside the arc and solid free-throw shooting will be at a premium. UNLV currently ranks 131st in offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.

Bottle up Morgan

Dwayne Morgan was one of the most hyped recruits to commit to UNLV under former coach Dave Rice, but things didn’t work out in Las Vegas for Morgan. He transferred after his sophomore year and ended up at Southern Utah with Simon, and this game is most definitely circled on his calendar.

Morgan is off to a good start for the Thunderbirds, averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season. He’ll be super motivated to do damage against his former team, so it will be up to UNLV’s frontcourt players like Shakur Juiston and Joel Ntambwe to match his intensity and not get beat by Morgan’s high-motor style.

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

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