Rebels drop conference opener at home to Boise State

Boise State’s Marcus Dickinson tries to bypass Jordan Johnson’s defense in UNLV’s conference opener on Dec. 30, 2017. The Rebels fell to 0-1 in Mountain West play following their 83-74 loss. Photo by Marcus Lavergne/LVSN

The crowd of 11,892, made up mainly of UNLV fans, at the Thomas and Mack, got a quick look at some pressing UNLV deficiencies during the team’s 83-74 loss to the Broncos.

From lax interior defense to non-aggressive attacks on the board, the Rebels seemed like they couldn’t keep up even though they had the lead going into halftime and into the 17 minute mark of the second half. Although it seems like the Rebels are getting the turnover battle figured out (7-15) they struggled impressively with offensive and defensive rebounding. The Broncos had 48 compared to UNLV’s 29.

Tonight was also a bad night to have a struggling Jovan Mooring on the court as well. The senior went just 2-14 in the paint and 2-9 outside the arc. He’s averaging 15 points a game this season, but only put up eight tonight. He still had 2-of-6 treys.

Shakur Juiston lead the team in scoring chalking 25 points in 36 minutes. He went 10-14 inside and 5-7 at the line. Brandon McCoy put up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and shot 7-9 in the paint.

Head Coach Marvin Menzies commented on the number of touches McCoy had on the night, admitting he wished the ball was in his hands more in key moments.

“They did a good job of wedging [McCoy] out of the “sweet spot,” Menzies said. “At the same time, he was effective so we gotta work on educating our guys that it’s an inside-out game when you play teams that collapse like that.”

On tough scoring nights, it’s been imperative that senior Jordan Johnson come up with huge moments, and he did tonight. He made two, three-point jumpers (one in the seven minute mark and one at the four) in the second half and dropped 20 points on the night.

The Rebels had difficulty defending against Boise St. senior veteran Chandler Hutchinson who shot 79-percent from field-goal range and posted 32 points. He also went three-for-three from outside.

The Rebels lost key players off the bench in Anthony Smith and Cheickna Dembele who are suffering from an ankle injury and head injury, respectively.

Boise St. had 50 points inside the paint, signifying a lack of interior-defensive execution. Menzies called the note something he knows he can “identify and fix.” In terms of Mooring’s lackluster-scoring performance, Menzies emphasized practicing versatility instead of just taking the shot on a whim and doing more things to help the team out. He referenced Mooring’s solid defensive performance.

The early Mountain West test is a blessing and curse for the young squad. Boise is expected to be atop the conference at the end of the season along with Nevada and San Diego State. The Rebels also had inspiring moments in the first half. They scored 14 off turnovers.

They fall to 0-1 in conference, but will look to redeem themselves against a 3-10 San Jose State team that’s only scoring 67 points a game and allowing 70 from their opponents.  They’ve also lost two conference games to Utah State and Colorado State.

That game tips off in San Jose on Jan. 3 at 8 pm.