Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Turnovers loomed large in the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels latest loss, sending the team to a three-game losing streak.
The Rebels lost to the Nevada Wolf Pack, 72 - 62, Tuesday, Feb. 2 from Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nevada.
“In a rivalry game you know that each team can be a little more chippy, a little more physical,” head coach TJ Otzelberger said. “There’s times where you feel like you got held or fouled and you’ve got to play through those things and play through adversity. And we didn’t do a good job playing through adversity.
“When they scored, they scored in waves. Particularly early in that second half and then again late and I think that’s what I mean by a rivalry game is having the stubbornness and a grit to say, ‘We’re getting a stop here, we’re putting an end to this.’ and we weren’t able to do that.”
UNR has won eight-straight against UNLV and now trail in the all-time series 60-33.
Dating back to his time at South Dakota State, Otzelberger is 0-5 as a head coach against the Wolf Pack.
It’s the third straight loss for UNLV after winning five straight at home.
The Rebels are now 6-9 on the year and 3-5 in the Mountain West and get to return home for a two-game series with the Air Force Falcons.
Game one is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. from the Thomas & Mack Center.
UNR went on a 19-4 run to end the game after trailing by five points with less than six minutes to go in regulation.
With three players playing at least 35 minutes, Otzelberger explained after the game he didn’t believe fatigue caused the late runs.
“I didn’t see it and as a coach you’re always playing the guys you think are giving you the best chance to win,” he said. “Unfortunately, right now depth isn’t a strength of ours. Some of the injuries we’ve had and things of that nature so I thought the guys that were on the court were doing the best job of fighting and competing.”
With a two-point lead with about three and a half left in the game, UNLV committed two turnovers on its next three possessions.
Those turnovers came in the midst of a 7-0 run that forced a Otzelberger timeout, with his team down five.
“I mean we went hard last night too and that’s what we’re going to keep doing and we’re not going to take days off,” Otzelberger said. “We’re going to find time on the court to get better. That’s what we need at this point in the season and that’s what we’re going to continue to do until we develop the fundamentals to be able to win games like this.”
The Rebels finished with 13 turnovers while only forcing the Wolf Pack into seven on the other end.
Freshman Nick Blake led the team with five.
Otzelberger praised his team’s defense in the first half but pointed to the team’s complacency in the second half as the difference.
“I thought our defensive effort for the first half was exactly what it needed to be to come out successful,” Otzelberger said. “Unfortunately, when we came out of the locker room to start the second half there was some complacency and [the Wolf Pack] were scoring at a higher regularity.
“I commend the guys, a lot of them played heavy minutes, for their fight and compete but if you want to win a game like that , especially a rivalry game, all the details matter and I think the difference is the run they had early in the second half and the run they had late.”
Two nights after allowing 14 UNR three-pointers, UNLV held its rival without a three-point field goal for the first 12 and a half minutes of the game.
The Wolf Pack started the game 0-of-9 from beyond the arc.
The Rebels went into halftime with a 30-26, just 48 hours after allowing 46 points in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Junior guard David Jenkins Jr. only played six minutes in the second half.
“Defensively early in the half, I think [Jenkins Jr.] is a fourth-year college player, he needs to be a guy that helps get our defense set up,” Otzelberger said. “Help anchor it, help talk, help communicate and really care that we get stops. I thought there was some slippage there and then when we went with the other guys I felt like we had good momentum. There was good chemistry.”
Jenkins Jr. finished with seven points, three rebounds and four turnovers.
UNLV is still without leading scorer Bryce Hamilton, who Otzelberger continues to list as day-to-day.
Hamilton is also leading the conference in steals per game.
Sophomore forward Moses Wood had a better outing in his second game in his hometown of Reno.
Wood finished with a team-high 16 points with three made three-pointers to go along with seven rebounds.
Sophomore guard Caleb Grill followed with 14 points with Blake rounding out the only Rebel players in double figures with 11 points.