Rebels bounce back with ‘gut check' win

Coming on the heels of a 20-point loss to No. 6 Louisville, UNLV senior forward Corey Bailey said Saturday night's battle with in-state rival Nevada provided the Runnin' Rebels was a "big gut check." UNLV (4-1) more than met that challenge with a hard-fought 79-67 victory over the Wolf Pack (2-2) at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Runnin' Rebels overcame a distinct height advantage by playing some smothering defense and also connecting on 53.3 percent of their shots in the second half en route to their second straight win over their rivals from Reno.

Senior guard Wink Adams led a balanced UNLV scoring attack with 17 points, including seven consecutive points during a key two minute stretch late in the second half that extended the Rebels' lead to 10 points, 67-57, with 5:05 remaining. The Wolf Pack never got any closer than five points after that.

Bailey (14 points), forwards Matt Shaw (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Joe Darger (13 points, 7 rebounds) and guard Curtis Terry (11 points, 6 assists) also scored in double-figures for UNLV, which finished with 12 steals and converted 19 Nevada turnovers into 30 points.

"A timely win," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "A bounce back win. And we needed that very badly."

"I think it was a big gut check," Bailey said, "(and) we came out and answered."

"This is a big win for us," Adams added. "It's always good to beat a rivalry team. And Reno is a great team. They're a tough team to play against."

The Rebels, who don't have a player taller than 6-foot-8 on their roster, won despite being out-rebounded, 44 to 33, and allowing 16 offensive rebounds. JaVale McGee, the Wolf Pack's talented 7-foot sophomore forward, finished with a double-double (20 points, 13 rebounds).

But UNLV made up for the size difference by connecting on 7 of 19 3-pointers and wearing down the Wolf Pack with their tough and aggressive trapping defense.

"They played great defense," Nevada guard Marcelus Kemp, who scored just 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting, said. "They scouted us good. We couldn't get our offense started. We really couldn't get in a rhythm because the defense was so strong and aggressive."

The Wolf Pack also didn't help themselves by making just 15 of 26 free throws (57.7 percent).

"When we went on that last run, I think they were mentally kind of drained," Bailey said. "They were like, ‘Wow, they're not stopping.' But you can't take nothing from them. Nevada is a good team and they kept trying to come back. And we held on and got the win.

"When we stay active defensively on and off the ball, we're a pretty good team. And tonight I think we did that."

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