The Lobo men’s basketball team hosted the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday, Feb. 10. They came into the match tied for the #1 team in the Mountain West Conference after defeating the Wyoming Cowboys.
The Rebels were able to take down the Lobos for the second home loss of the season at 80-77. The Lobos had hoped to take their revenge on the Rebels after the Jan. 9 83-73 loss, but came up short.
The game started off slow with both teams trading drives without a basket the majority of the first 10 minutes. The Rebels' Brooklyn Hicks (#13) made the first score with three free throws right before the first Media Timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Rebels kept their momentum until Donovan Dent (#2) got the first Lobo basket.
The Rebels were able to keep making consistent baskets, including Hicks who made a layup off of a steal. With 10:08 left in the first half, the Lobos were down 18-10. But even so, the 15,000 Lobo fans in white were fired up to encourage the team during the White Out game.
Head Coach Richard Pitino was disappointed to have lost another home game with so many fans in The Pit, but stayed positive and humble.
“We have to give UNLV credit at the end of the day, especially when their players are having career best games,” Pitino said. “We’ve got a hard week coming up with two away games, and we have to not let this game get to us.”
Mustapha Amzil (#22) came off the bench, launching from the three-point line and went on to have a pair of great rebound plays. A pass to Tru Washington (#3) allowed him to secure his own three-point shot, followed by Nelly Junior Joseph (#23) scored another two points.
Jaelen House (#10), who was recently added to the Naismith Defensive player of the year watchlist, showed off his driving ability with a pair of lightning quick plays – the first of which UNLV was able to block and send across the court for Kalib Boone (#10) to dunk. The second House was able to secure a three-pointer.
The Lobos started to have a comeback on the scoreboard. Even with the Rebels playing hard, the Lobos played harder. Dent took his turn to drive with the ball and earned a layup, having success multiple times in the paint. JT Toppin (#15) also came alive on the rim, making rebounds left and right – one of which was off a missed free throw that Toppin was able to score off of with 3.5 seconds remaining in the half.
Toppin got sent to the line to shoot one and made it to take the lead. The Lobos ended the half up by one point at 40-39.
Dent was able to have an all around good game scoring 20 points, going 7-8 on his free throws and 6-11 from the field. Even so, the loss was hard on Dent.
“Me and Mash (Jamal Mashburn Jr.), we have to do better boxing out bigger guards in the paint,” Dent said.
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The second half opened up with a bang as the Lobos came out in a blaze. Toppin blocked a shot and then passed to House who sent the ball across the court to Dent who put it away. The well-executed play wasn't enough to deter the Rebels as they kept on running with the ball and making consistent baskets, taking back the score quickly.
House wasn't going to let that continue easily for the Rebels. House was able to turn up his scrappiness on defense and made a clean pass to Washington who made a three-pointer. UNLV called a timeout hoping to take away House's momentum, but House was able to make another basket off a Toppin block.
The play where House made his basket was taken under review and was flagrant fouled, sending him to the free throw line for two more shots. House took back the Lobos lead, putting them ahead 57-54 with 11:20 remaining in the game.
The game started to slow down with referees calling foul after foul. In a three-minute span, 10 total fouls all led to free throws. Both the Lobos and Rebels players had multiple players with four fouls in the game and were in the double bonus. With three minutes left, House was able to make two free throws and tie the game up at 70 all.
Both teams showed full passion on the court as they both had a messy back and forth attempt at plays. The Rebels' Dedan Thomas Jr. (#11) was able to steal the ball from Dent, but the play went nowhere. In the last minute of the game, down by two, House fouled and sent Thomas Jr. to the line to shoot two free throws with 23 seconds left.
The Lobos wouldn't let it end there. Amzil was able to score a lay up, followed by Pitino calling a timeout. Dent went up next to make a three-point basket, but there was less than a second left in the game.
The Rebels were able to take two free throws, forcing our boys to try a hail mary half-court shot that was unsuccessful. The Lobos lost their second home game at 80-77.
The Lobos will go on to have a week of away games where they’ll face the Nevada Wolf Pack and the San Diego State Aztecs. They will be back home on Wednesday, Feb. 21 where they host the Colorado State Rams.
BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BillyJackDL
BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL