Coming off a disappointing loss against TCU less than 24 hours prior to the tip off against Western Kentucky, many including myself wondered how Menzies and his team would respond. We didn't have to wait long for the answer. UNLV used hot shooting from the 3 point line and a tough-nosed 2nd half effort to win another hard fought game, 71-61.
Tyrell Green had a career night for the Rebs. He was scorchingly hot from distance going 5-6 for the game and 8-12 overall from the floor. Green was also a stat sheet stuffer against WKU, racking up 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Jalen Poyser also broke a personal record for scoring the ball as a Rebel. The sophomore has been incendiary from the three point line and he went 6-11 for the game to continue that trend. He also did a masterful job running the point guard spot dishing out 9 assists against only a single turnover. Kris Clyburn also deserves praise for hauling in 11 rebounds. In large part because of him, UNLV won the overall rebounding battle 38-33.
The hero of the game however was Dwayne Morgan. Just like the night before Morgan saw himself in early foul trouble. Most players would take their foot off the gas and play cautiously if that were the case, but Dwayne knew his team needed him to stay aggressive. That's just what the junior did. In the 2nd half the Rebels found themselves struggling against a 2-3 zone that was being implemented by the Hilltoppers. Zone offense has been an achilles heel for this UNLV team at times this season and Morgan did a great job of being a force of nature in the post when the ball was thrown inside to him. He scored 8 points for the game and fought tooth and nail for everyone of his 6 rebounds. He also came up big on the defensive side of the court numerous times.
The struggle was real against the WKU zone as I mentioned above, but this UNLV team used 45% shooting from the arc (13-29) and a whole lot of heart to turn 12 first half turnovers and a 28-30 halftime deficit into a 10 point win. The Rebels needed to come out and play a determined game to avoid going 0-2 in two straight nights at the Thomas and Mack and that's exactly what they did. The Rebels only turned the ball over twice in the 2nd half, a far cry from the 31 giveaways they committed in the previous 3 halves combined. Once UNLV took care of the ball, they took care of Western Kentucky.