UNLV Drops Another Close Game, This Time To SMU
Rebels fall to an AAC foe.
UNLV unable to get it done.
Another UNLV game that ends in a close defeat. A slow start in the first half shooting woes the story sounds the same. Early in the Rebels season that has been the case multiple times. Inside the Thomas & Mack on Saturday UNLV suffered their fifth loss of the season, after losing a close game to SMU 72-68 moving the team to (2-5).
In the first half, of the contest, the Rebels only made 8 field goals in the first half on 29 percent shooting. The team shot 4 of 17 from 3. The team’s offensive struggles landed them down by 10 going into the half with a 38-28 score. The 1-2-2 press SMU threw at UNLV slowed down the Rebels pace. “Our first half effort on the press was too casual,” coach T.J. Otzelberger said after the game.
In the second half, UNLV’s leading scorer on the season Amauri Hardy was able to contribute more after being hampered by two early fouls in the first half. When UNLV played more aggressively that’s when the team got results. After around 4 minutes in the second half Donnie Tillman sprinted down the baseline with the ball breaking the press got to the foul line passed out to hardy who swung the ball to Elijah Mitrou-Long who knocked down an open three.
Those were the type of plays missing from UNLV in the first half. As the second half wore on UNLV found success by going down low. Getting the ball in the paint freed up shooters on the outside as well.
UNLV was on the verge of a comeback after a Hardy 3 and two made free throws from Mbacke Diong, put the Rebels down two with 60-58 score with just over five minutes left to play in the game. UNLV could not do more to tie the game after those free throws as they went on an offensive drought and did not score another point until Mitrou-Long made a couple of free throws with under a minute left in the contest. The Rebels could not make another field goal until it was 27 seconds left in the game.
SMU guard Kendric Davis had 21 points leading the mustangs in scoring. UNLV’s top scorer was by Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton who had a career-high 18 points. UNLV shot 35 percent from the field compared to SMU shooting 50 percent from the field. The Rebels were not gutty enough to get those stops they needed down the stretch, combine that with a shooting slump in crunch time and it leads to another Rebel loss.
“We’re done with moral victories,” said Otzelberger in his postgame press conference. Let’s hope so as the rebels need an actual victory this Tuesday against SWAC conference opponent Jackson State. The Rebels are 2-3 at home this season and could use a little home cooking for a win before Thanksgiving.