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Rebels pull out win over Aggies, 71-58

UNLV vs. North Carolina A&T

UNLV forward Joe Darger and guard Mareceo Rutledge grab for a defensive rebound during the second half of their game against North Carolina A&T Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Darger finished with 18 points and four rebounds while Rutledge finished with five points and five boards. Launch slideshow »

Final, UNLV wins 71-58

It was far from pretty, but a win's a win. When the Rebels weren't allowing shots (thanks to 15 steals and forcing 22 turnovers), they were just good enough offensively to pull out a victory. When the Aggies could get a shot off, though, they were able shoot well enough to keep in the game until they finally wore down and started making too many mistakes to overcome.

Ed Jones did everything he could for the Aggies in the second half (scoring all of his team-high 18 points), but UNLV shutting down Thomas Coleman (14 points in the first half, just one after the break) proved too big of a difference.

• Wink Adams finished with a game-high 19 points, along with 6 rebound and 5 assists. Joe Darger scored 18 points, and Tre'Von Willis had 8 points and 4 assists. René Rougeau added 6 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, and Mareceo Rutledge had 5 points and 5 boards.

• Ed Jones also grabbed 8 rebounds for the Aggies, Thomas Coleman had 15 points and 7 rebounds, and Nicholas Wilson added 11 points and 7 boards. Only four other Aggies scored, with none of them putting up more than 6 points.

Other numbers of note:

— Shooting percentages: UNLV 36.8 (21-57), NCA&T 42.6 (23-54)

— Three-point shooting: UNLV 33.8 (11-13), NCA&T 27.8 (5-18)

— Free-throw shooting: UNLV 69.2 (18-26), NCA&T 43.8 (7-16)

— Reboudning: UNLV 37, NCA&T 41

— Steals: UNLV 15, NCA&T 4

— Turnovers: UNLV 11, NCA&T 22

— Second-chance points: UNLV 3, NCA&T 11

— Fast-break points: UNLV 6, NCA&T 6

— Points in the paint: UNLV 18, NCA&T 34

2:58, second half, UNLV leads 67-56

• After leading the Aggies with 14 points and hitting all seven of his shots in the first half, Thomas Coleman has done almost nothing offensively in the second half. The 6-foot-9 sophomore picked up his fourth foul at the 7:32 mark, and hasn't even taken a shot since intermission. He's added a free throw, but that's been it.

• The Rebels have stepped things up on the defensive end, forcing the Aggies into turnover after turnover. NCA&T now has 20 total turnovers, compared to just 10 for UNLV. The Rebels aren't doing a lot on the offensive end of the court, but the improved defense is holding this margin steady around 8 points.

• UNLV took its biggest lead of the game, 64-51, just before the 4:00 mark, on a pair of free throws by Wink Adams. The Rebels are just 14 of 22 (63.6 percent) from the charity stripe, but 1) the Aggies are just 5 of 14 themselves (35.7 perecent) and 2) UNLV is now in the double bonus, which has to bode well for the final minutes of the game.

• Joe Darger leads all scorers with 18 points, with every last point coming from behind the arc. He's 6-of-9 shooting from long distance and has taken just one shot from inside the line. His sixth three-pointer gave the Rebels their biggest lead of the game, 67-53, with just under 3:30 left.

• The Rebels have heated up slightly from the field and are now hitting 38.2 percent of their shot attempts (21 of 55). The Aggies are shooting better this second half (47.6 percent, compared to 46.4 percent before halftime), but it hasn't been enough to make up the difference from three-point range or the free throw line.

7:45, second half, UNLV leads 56-48

• Jump shots have been a problem for the Rebels, but those set shots from 15 feet out are a bit easier. Four straight free throws (two by René Rougeau and another pair by Mareceo Rutledge) increased the UNLV lead to 5 points, 50-45, and Rutledge then followed an Ed Jones air ball with a three from the left wing, giving the Rebels their biggest lead since a 29-21 advantage late in the first half. (If it weren't for all those Aggie air balls, the rebounding numbers might be even worse for the Rebels.)

• After an NCA&T turnover, Tre'Von Willis gave UNLV a double-digit lead, 56-45, with a another three-pointer. When the Rebels are on from outside, it can cover a lot of mistakes. Fortunately tonight, 9-of-27 shooting from behind the line is just close enough to "on" to keep the Rebels ahead.

• The rebounding margin is closer now, with the Aggies holding a 32-31 advantage. That shooting percentage lead (46.5 percent for NCA&T to 36 for UNLV) is still pretty ugly, though.

11:21, second half, UNLV leads 46-45

• Other than the opening goose eggs and a 2-0 lead in the opening minute, the Aggies had trailed the entire game. At least until the 15:00 mark of the second half thanks to a basket by Ed Jones. René Rougeau answered with a baseline drive off a pass from Oscar Bellfield and Wink Adams put the lead back to 4 points on a driving layup after an air ball by Nicholas Wilson.

Thomas Coleman kept the Aggies in the game late in the first half, and it's been Ed Jones carrying the load early in the second. He's scored all 10 of his points since the break, including two three-pointers.

The Aggies took a one-point lead, 45-44, 8 minutes in on a basket by Nicholas Wilson, his first of the second half. Rougeau answered at the other end with a deep jumper.

15:51, second half, UNLV leads 40-38

• The Rebels started the second half strong and solid, dumping the ball down low into Darris Santee for a layup. UNLV's next six times with the ball featured five missed shots (two from long range) and a turnover, though. Brice Massamba finally ended the Rebels' scoreless streak with a driving, falling layup almost 4 minutes into the half.

• Ed Jones followed Massamba's layup with a three-pointer that cut the lead to just a point, 37-36, but Joe Darger answered at the other end with his fourth three-pointer of the game. Tavarus Alston cut the lead back to two points before the first media timeout.

• Want a perfect snapshot of the Rebels' rebounding issues tonight? Two minutes into the second half, with the ball caroming around the rim off the backboard, Rebels hands and the rim itself, NCA&T guard Nic Simpson (listed at 6-foot-3 and appearing a couple inches shorter) ended up with the ball in his hands on the left block. Sometimes it's not blocking out, sometimes it's a long board on a missed three, and sometimes it's just bad luck.

Halftime, UNLV leads 33-29

• Bellfield was on the receiving end of a successful alley-oop late in the half, taking a pass from Kendall Wallace and laying it in for the final points before intermission.

• UNLV's shooting woes keep getting worse. The Rebels are now 10 of 30 from the field, a full 13 percent worse than the Aggies (13 of 28). That 6-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc isn't helping much, especially combined with 12-of-20 shooting by NCA&T inside the arc. Wink Adams and Joe Darger are a combined 6-of-13 from long distance, with the rest of the team misfiring on 5 three-point attempts.

• The Aggies are outrebounding the Rebels, 21-18, despite a huge (pun intended) height advantage for UNLV. With all the three-pointers taken (including 8 for NCA&T) there have been a lot of long rebounds that have negated what seemed to be a big mark in UNLV's favor.

• Adams leads UNLV with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting (3 of 8 from beyond the arc). Darger has 9 points (all on three-pointers), but no other Rebel has more than two points. Tre'Von Willis has four assists, and René Rougeau leads UNLV with 3 boards.

• Thomas Coleman leads the Aggies with 14 points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting. He also leads all players with 6 rebounds and has two blocks for good measure. Nicholas Wilson has 9 points for NC&T on 4-of-7 shooting.

• Other numbers of note:

— Turnovers: UNLV 7, NCA&T 11

— Blocks: UNLV 0, NCA&T 3

— Fast-break points: UNLV 4, NCA&T 4

— Steals: UNLV 5, NCA&T 2

— Points in the paint: UNLV 8, NCA&T 24

— Second-chance points: UNLV 3, NCA&T 8

3:25, first half, UNLV leads 29-25

• The Rebels started heating up from beyond the arc midway through the half, extending a 13-11 lead to an 12-point margin thanks to three trifectas (two from Wink Adams and a pair from Joe Darger, the latter's sandwiched around a tip-in by Thomas Coleman).

• Coleman leads the Aggies with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting and has been difficult for the Rebels to deal with down low the past few minutes.

• UNLV entered the bonus with its seven foul at the 8:15 mark. NCA&T has been whistled for a foul since the first four minutes.

• Oscar Bellfield and DeShawn Mitchell had the crowd ready to erupt at the 8:00 mark, but the duo couldn't quite connect on a fast-break alley oop. Mitchell nearly did the trick himself moments later, out-battling four Aggies for a loose-ball rebound. Unfortunately for the freshman, the threw the ball out of bounds while attempting to bounce it off an opponent.

• Beas Hamga scored his first points of the game on a nifty reverse layup down the baseline for a 27-19 lead.

The Aggies are staying in this game by outrebounding the taller Rebels (17 to 14), and shooting far better (47.8 percent to 37.5).

11:36, first half, UNLV leads 13-11

• After early foul trouble, the Aggies have yet to commit another. They have started hitting shots, shooting 50 percent (3-of-6) after a cold 1-for-5 start. NCA&T cut the lead to just two points with the help of cold shooting by UNLV (2-of-7), as well.

• Oscar Bellfield entered the game for the first time 5 minutes in. The freshman guard was replaced by Tre'Von Willis in the starting lineup and is 0-for-1 from the field with one rebound in three minutes so far.

• Just a couple minutes after Bellfield entered, Wink Adams was called for a questionable traveling violation on what appeared to be a blocked shot he kept control of.

• The UNLV fans aren't going crazy just yet, but a couple of NCA&T air balls have got them going for a bit.

• Mareceo Rutledge doesn't appear worried about another shot to his nose. Despite injuring it while leaping for a rebound in Thursday's game, he went up strong over 6-foot-5 Nicholes Wilson for a rebound just a few minutes ago.

15:56, first half, UNLV leads 8-2

The Aggies are having trouble keeping up with the Rebels so far, committing 5 fouls in the first 4 minutes. Junior guard Tavarus Alston already has two fouls, the second picked up while Wink Adams laid in a fast-break bucket (and followed it with a successful free throw.)

Thomas Coleman scored the game's first points, but it's been all UNLV since. Adams leads with 4 points, and Joe Darger has a three-pointer. René Rougeau has three rebounds and an assist.

Pregame

Late pregame note: Looks like Miech's Pick to Click might be the least likely to pan out now: Tre'Von Willis is starting over Oscar Bellfield, who started UNLV's first three games.

UNLV fans this is Levi Chronister, filling in your usual courtside correspondent (and my coworker and college classmate) Ryan Greene, who's in San Diego covering the Rebels' football game against the Aztecs. It's been more than four years since I've done a live game blog, but I promise to do my best to fill the impressive shoes he's worn this year (with much help from fellow Rebels writer Rob Miech).

• Sophomore guard Willis showed few signs his slightly separated right shoulder is bothering him during warm-ups, shooting smoothly and draining four straight three-pointers during one stretch. He did have a behind-the-back dribble go off the court previous to that, but overall looks fine.

• Mareceo "Mo" Rutledge doesn't appear to be suffering from his recent bumps and bruises, either. The 6-foot-3 senior southpaw took a shot to his nose and tweaked his right wrist late in Thursday's win over Northern Arizona, but is moving at full speed during warmups.

• Bellfield might not have started, but he certainly showed his work ethic this weekend. The freshman guard was the first Rebel out for warmups and the last one off the court at practice yesterday.

• UNLV officials told us that Jason McElwain's mother told them that Thursday's halftime celebration and ceremony stood out as one of the special moments of his autism-awareness tour. J-Mac was truly thrilled by the experience and his reception by the UNLV fans.

• Given your fearless leader's absence, there will be only one big prediction tonight: UNLV 88, NCA&T 52. Also, there will be no The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition podcast after tonight's game. A great man like Greene can only be replaced in so many ways.

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Previous Discussion: 7 comments so far…

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  1. You are, indeed, a great man, Levi.

  2. Oh yeah ... Pick to click ...

    ... Darris Santee.

  3. Ryan, don't you have enough to do in San Diego, rather than coming here and proving you're the better game blogger?

    My Pick to Click: Wink Adams

    Miech's Pick to Click: Oscar Bellfield

    OK, enough navel gazing. Time for tip-off.

  4. juanchaco, sorry for the delay. Still getting back into the swing of this thing. First media timeout update's now posted.
    Also, no TV for this one. Just Fox Sports Radio 920-AM.

  5. i sure hope they pull it together for the second half. they can't struggle this badly on the road monday and pull out the win.

  6. Lenny_V, the UNLV big men aren't necessarily playing poorly. NCA&T coach Jerry Eaves is making a point to his players (every chance he gets) to get the ball down low. They're just pounding it in the paint and getting shots in close.

  7. It'll be interesting to see how our rebels do on the road come monday against UTEP... Congrats to the Foothill highschool band for doing a good job at the game. They were just as good as UNLV's band.. just not as loud for some reason.