Runnin’ Rebels suffer crushing defeat to rival Nevada Wolf Pack

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UNLV No. 11 Dedan Thomas Jr. scans the court for teammates against University of Nevada Reno. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong).

UNLV Men’s Basketball fell to rival Nevada Wolf Pack 75-65 at the Lawlor Events Center on March 9 to finish the regular season with an overall record of 19-11 and 12-6 in conference play. 

The Wolf Pack swept the season series 2-0 after losing its last four matchups against the Rebels. The Rebels entered the matchup riding a monumental win against No. 21 ranked San Diego State Aztecs.

Freshman guard Dedan Thomas Jr. shined despite the loss, scoring 23 points, and senior guard Keylan Boone also dominated, scoring 24 points and knocking down six 3-pointers.

Jarod Lucas was the hero for the Wolf Pack, scoring 26 points and shooting an efficient 50% from the field.

Lucas led the charge for the Wolf Pack early, scoring the first five points of the game. Keylan Boone responded with a 3-pointer to cut the Wolf Pack lead to two.

After the basket from Keylan Boone, the Rebels offense went cold, missing three consecutive shots, while the Wolf Pack went on a 7-0 run, led by a layup from KJ Hymes and five more points from Lucas.

The Rebels continued to fight back, led by three free throws by Thomas, and layups from Keylan Boone and Luis Rodriguez cut the Reno lead to 19-12 with 12:25 left.

Throughout the midway point of the first half, the Wolf Pack’s dynamic offense continued to dominate, with Kenan Blackshear and Lucas firing away to extend the lead to 31-19.

The Rebels started turning defense into offense, forcing two quick turnovers and attacking the basket on the other end, keeping the Wolf Pack’s 33-27 lead at bay with 4:26 left in the half.

As the half came to a close, the Rebels failed to execute a score, as Justin Webster missed a contested 3-pointer to end the half. The Wolf Pack entered halftime with a sustainable lead of 39-31. The Wolf Pack finished the regular season a perfect 24-0 after leading at halftime.

UNLV struggled offensively, only shooting 43% from the field and 18% from three. The Rebels defensively forced seven first half turnovers and scored 10 points off turnovers.

The second half started similarly to how the first half started. Lucas continued to thrive offensively, scoring a 3-point play, followed by Nick Davidson dominating the glass for Reno.

The Rebels struggled to buy a basket, but Thomas delivered for UNLV, scoring a reverse layup, followed by a 3-pointer by Keylan Boone to make the score 45-38 with 15:41 left.

Staggering defense started to propel UNLV forward with two steals from Shane Nowell, which turned into five quick points for the Rebels. 

Midway through the second half, Keylan Boone continued to put UNLV on his back, scoring his fourth 3-pointer of the game. The lead was cut to one possession after two free throws by Webster.

The Rebels defensive scheme started putting the breaks on Reno, leading to another 3-pointer from Keylan Boone to give UNLV its first lead of the game with 11:58 left.

Lawlor Events Center went silent after a putback jam by Kalib Boone. A possession later, UNLV dominated the offensive glass, grabbing two rebounds, but could not execute a score, leading to a layup by Tyler Rolison.

For the next three minutes, the Rebels offense went stagnant. The Wolf Pack took advantage, going on an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 58-50 with 6:51 left.

The Rebels continued to fight back. Thomas was in full control of the Rebel offense, scoring a pull up jumpshot. Followed by a 3-point shot to cut the lead to 68-61 with under two minutes to play.

The Rebels gave themselves a chance to score on a pair of free throws and a sixth 3-pointer by Keylan Boone, but the Wolf Pack capitalized on every free throw attempt, ultimately sealing the deal for the Wolf Pack to hold off UNLV to win 75-65.

Up Next

The Rebels travel back home to Thomas & Mack for the Mountain West Championship Tournament. The Rebels lock in a No. 4 for the tournament to take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the first round on March 14. Tip-off will be at 2:30 p.m. and will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

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