UNLV keeps finding ways to lose. At times it has been turnovers and sloppy play that has cost them, while other games it has been effort and energy. Today it was the defense that let the Rebels down on the road in Logan, Utah. The Aggies made 13 threes to blow the visiting Rebels out of the gym in the 2nd half, knocking down 62% of their attempts from deep. Coach Marvin Menzies employed a 2-3 zone which kept the game close for over 25 minutes, but USU figured it out to say the least. UNLV has now dropped to 8-9 overall for the season and 1-3 in Mountain Conference play.
Senior Christian Jones was the lone Rebel in double figures. Jones scored 17 points and hauled in 5 rebounds. The St John's transfer continues to be one of the only consistent options on the team for Menzies. None were more inconsistent than the two leading scorers for UNLV than Jalen Poyser and Tyrell Green. The two remaining holdovers from the Rice era that are playing minutes for the Rebels combined to score just 11 total points on 4-18 shooting.
The staff did go with a bit of a youth movement by giving freshmen Troy Baxter Jr and Zion Morgan some extended run. Before the Aggies caught fire both players brought a lot of energy and effort. Baxter impacted the game with a myriad of powerful dunks and hitting some much needed bunnies around the basket. The rookie from Florida shot 4-9 for the game and totaled 8 points and bringing down a few rebounds. Zion Morgan struggled in terms of scoring the ball (1-4 shooting overall), but he brought the kind of effort plays this UNLV team is in desperate need of. Morgan was able to steal the ball twice, while accumulating 4 deflections and just as many floor burns. There's rarely a bright side when losing 79-63, but I think those two were a silver lining on a dreary day for UNLV.
These blowout losses are becoming a disturbing trend, but UNLV wasn't able to locate, or recognize USU's hot shooters. Not only that, but they couldn't keep pace while shooting a porous 37% from the field and an atrocious 16.7% from distance. The games won't be getting any easier either. UNLV next travels to The Pit in New Mexico, which is one of the toughest venues in college basketball and then hosts a SDSU team that has owned them for years and years. Are the wheels coming off, or can Menzies get his team on track? Time will tell.