Game Recap: UCLA 71, UNLV 54
Rebels suffer their third consecutive loss
UNLV goes cold, UCLA stays hot
Well, this one was never in danger of going to overtime.
It was another rough night for the Runnin’ Rebels on Friday, as the team fell to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, 71-54. The Bruins jumped out to an early lead and never truly looked back as they moved to 6-0 in the all-time series between the two schools.
The Bruins (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) were paced by junior Chris Smith, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half and helped UCLA put their opponents at arm’s reach. Smith also finished with eight rebounds, which tied for the team lead with Jalen Hill. Touted Bruins freshmen Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez combined to score 23 points. Prince Ali had ten points in the second half and finished with 14.
For the second consecutive game, Donnie Tillman, Amauri Hardy, and Elijah Mitrou-Long all scored in double figures. Tillman led the charge with a season-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Hardy and Mitrou-Long each added 13, with Bryce Hamilton scoring ten.
And that’s it for UNLV. Only four players scored for the Rebels.
Chiekh Mbacke Diong found other ways to contribute, pulling down seven rebounds and recording UNLV’s only two blocked shots. But Jonah Antonio was ineffective in the first half and didn’t play during the second. Nick Blair and Cheickna Dembele combined for 25 minutes off the bench but registered a grand total of zero points (on zero shots), one rebound, two turnovers, and three fouls.
Suffice it to say that TJ Otzelberger still hasn’t found the recipe for top-tier success—though the Rebels (1-3, 0-0 MWC) have shown some signs of promise even in their losses. Hardy is a volume shooter and will be among the top scorers in the Mountain West, but he hasn’t been very efficient. Tillman has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s also had some frustrating turnovers and foul problems.
This game brought two of the Rebels’ biggest issues to light: a lack of depth and poor execution. Having four players score in double figures is nice, but having zero points from the rest of the team is less than ideal. And the Rebels again shot under 40% from the field for the second time this season.
Both are problems that they need to fix quickly.
UCLA, on the other hand, looked like a team starting to gel under first-year head coach Mick Cronin. The Bruins remain undefeated and have improved in each game of the early season. If Tyger Campbell continues his star rise while the team’s veterans pour in solid performances night in and night out, they could easily hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
UP NEXT FOR UNLV: The Rebels will host the Wildcats of Abilene Christian (1-1, 0-0 Southland) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The game is part of the Southwestern Showdown presented by Engage Telehealth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 P.M. Mountain Time.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.