Runnin’ Rebels shock the Wolf Pack in Reno, winning 86-78.
UNLV received a huge game from senior guard Jovan Mooring, who notched 31 points in the Rebels win over in state rival UNR.
Just days after getting back into the top 25, the Wolf Pack are upset by the Runnin’ Rebels on their home floor.
After last season Jovan Mooring said he had a list of teams that beat them that he was going to be looking to get revenge on. One of those teams was San Diego State, check, and the other main one was UNR. He checked that win off and in a big way.
The senior guard willed his team to their biggest win of the season, playing with effort on both ends of the court, making diving saves on balls going out of bounds, and hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. The Wolf Pack just simply had no answer. Mooring would finish the game connecting on 11 of 20 shots, including a blistering 6 of 12 from deep.
And this just days after suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss on the road to Boise State, so there were a lot of questions about how this enigmatic UNLV team would respond, back on the road against the first place team. Any questions were answered right out of the gate.
The Runnin’ Rebels played an aggressive, fast-paced first half, and answered every Nevada run with a run of their own, taking a 41 to 34 lead into the half. And all this with their star center, Brandon McCoy, relegated to the bench for long stretches due to foul trouble.
Out of the break, and throughout the second half, UNR continued to fight. They quickly closed the halftime gap, and each time UNLV tried to pull away, the Wolf Pack’s Jordan Caroline and Lindsey Drew would take over the game, and string eight and ten points runs together to either even the score or take the lead. However, it wouldn’t be enough.
Each time it seemed like UNR had seized control of the momentum, UNLV was able to counter punch, and more often than not it was a play by senior Jovan Mooring that started the counter, and it wasn’t just his scoring. Twice during the second half Mooring hit floor going after loose balls. First, after he knocked a ball loose from a driving Jordan Caroline, Mooring dove out of bounds saving it back to his teammate Shakur Juiston. The second and most crucial play occurred with just 30 seconds left.
With the Rebels up four and UNR with possession, Lindsey Drew missed a shot and the rebound careened toward the sideline. Without hesitation Mooring hit the floor ahead of two Reno players, securing the ball and getting a timeout called, securing the win for the Runnin’ Rebels. While Mooring was the star of the night, he received plenty of help from his teammates.
Junior forward Shakur Juiston also played one of his best games as a Rebel when they needed him most, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Five of those were offensive, and each led to crucial points for the visiting Rebels.
UNR was led in scoring by their do-everything forward Jordan Caroline, who finished with a team-high 18 points. He was the main reason McCoy was forced to the bench for long periods of the game. Seemingly every time he touched the ball, he attacked at the taller, but less agile McCoy, drawing foul after foul. It was a smart game plan for the short-handed Wolf Pack team, who were playing without the services of their highest scoring player Caleb Martin, who was scratched just before game time with a lisfranc injury.
Caleb’s twin brother, Cody Martin, filled in admirably for him, finishing with 16 points of his own, but foul trouble also put him on the bench for key stretches of the game. Without his effort and scoring, UNR wasn’t able to hold off the deeper Rebels team.
This is now two games in a row where UNLV looks like the same team that fans saw during the non-conference schedule, and both were on the road and both were against the two top teams in the conference. The talent is there for this team to build momentum going into the conference tournament and hopefully win three games in three days come March.
UNLV takes on the Cowboys from Wyoming on Saturday, February 10th at the Thomas & Mack. Tip off is scheduled for 5pm pst.
UNR welcomes the slumping Aztecs of San Diego State on Saturday the 10th. Tip off is slated for 5pm pst.