REBELS BASKETBALL:

For two Aggies, a tale of two halves

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 »

Next game

  • Opponent: UTEP
  • Where: El Paso, Texas
  • When: Monday, Nov. 24, 6 p.m.

In the first half of Saturday's basketball game against UNLV, North Carolina A&T forward Thomas Coleman was nearly unstoppable.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore had a team-best 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting and a game-high six rebounds in 15 minutes. Coleman kept the Aggies (2-2) in the game with eight points during a five-minute stretch that started with the Rebels up 11 points and ended with them up just six.

In the second half, though, Coleman was nearly invisible, adding just one point and one rebound while missing his only field goal attempt.

Teammate Ed Jones picked up much of the slack, scoring all of his team-high 18 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough to hold off the Rebels in a 71-58 loss.

"I take part of the blame," Coleman said. "I crashed the boards a lot (in the first half), and I was looking for my guards to get me the ball and they got me the ball, but in the second half I don't think I was aggressive enough."

NCA&T coach Jerry Eaves credited UNLV's defense for the change in Coleman's fortunes.

"I think they did a better job in the second half of fronting Thomas," Eaves said. "They did a better job on our pick and rolls stopping when we were getting Thomas looks to where if we shot it he had offensive rebound position. I think they did a better job of showing and getting back."

The focus on keeping the ball out of the paint kept it out on the perimeter, where the lanky, 6-foot-7 Jones was able to take advantage.

The senior forward hit six of 10 shots in the second half, including 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc, after going just 0-for-2 before the break. He added eight rebounds (five in the second half) and sank three of four free throws after the intermission.

"In the first half I came out trying to do a little bit too much," Jones said. "I wasn't letting the game come to me, but in the second half I settled myself down and I knew what I had to do. My teammates found me and I put the ball in the hole."

The Aggies usually have a number of players the guards can look for, with three different leading scorers in their four games. Against the Rebels, however, they were missing one. Starting small forward Robert Johnson didn't play, throwing the entire offense out of sequence.

"We were kind of lost a little bit," Eaves said. "Our flow was bad because we were missing our starting (small forward). We have a very, very good team, truly. We have a lot of weapons when everybody's healthy that we can go to. We just have to strive, to continue to get better. These kind of games are great for us because Vegas challenges every pass. They do a great job in the lanes of denying, and they were able to exploit us a little bit."

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