The cold-shooting Rebels suffered their first loss of the season on Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center and it wasn't pretty. Cal (5-0) dominated from the start and cruised to a 73-55 victory in the semifinals of the Global Sports Classic.
The loss snapped a 19-game home winning streak for UNLV dating back to a 52-49 loss to Arizona on Dec. 19, 2007.
Cal jumped out 24-11 lead in the first 10 minutes en route to a 39-26 halftime advantage as the Rebels shot a paltry 25.8 percent (8-of-31) from the floor. The Bears extended their lead to 20 points, 54-34, on forward Theo Robertson's basket with 13:34 to go. UNLV never got any closer than nine points, 57-48, after that.
Cal held a 50-34 rebounding edge while holding UNLV to just 29.7 percent shooting (19-of-64) from the floor.
"It's a game where (there were) not many things to feel really good about," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "I thought Cal opened it with authority. (They were) quicker, bigger, more aggressive on both ends of the floor, and we found ourselves reacting more than we did dictating really for the entire night. Cal's guys played great and we didn't respond like you have to when you encounter a group that is playing like they played."
It was a particularly rough night for UNLV's three senior starters, Wink Adams, Rene Rougeau and Joe Darger. The trio combined for just 21 points on 6-of-30 shooting.
"It seemed like we couldn't hit any shots the whole game," Rougeau, who finished with five points on 1-of-9 shooting, said. "When you're not hitting shots it's definitely tough, especially when the other team is hitting."
"We usually have that one guy step up," Adams said. "Tonight everybody was just in a slump. It happens sometimes."
Meanwhile, Cal, led by 5-foot-10 junior point guard Jerome Randle (18 points, 4 of 5 3-pointers, 8 assists), shot 46.4 percent from the floor and connected on 7-of-10 3-pointers (70.0 percent). Randle has made an incredible 16-of-22 (70.3 percent) from 3-point range this year.
"Everybody has pride," Adams, who was just 3-of-14 from the floor and scored just 10 points, said. "If you can't feel embarrassed after this game, then something is wrong. I think everybody will learn from it."
"It's definitely embarrassing," Rougeau said. "We just know we have to protect our home court even better. We're glad we play tomorrow. Guys definitely will bounce back and be fired up for tomorrow's game."
Kruger is hoping the painful loss will be a learning experience for his squad.
"At the very least, when you get popped like that, you have to try realize that we have a lot of work to do and a long ways to go," Kruger said. "And, if nothing else, look back on this a few days and weeks from now and say that we learned something.
Cal hands UNLV its first loss, 73-55
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Inside the Rebels02/11/2017