The 21st-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels hit the road for the first time this season, as they tangle with the Portland Pilots in non-conference action at the Chiles Center on Tuesday night.
UNLV, which hosted the Global Sports Classic at the Thomas & Mack Center earlier this season, recently entertained the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in Las Vegas over the weekend and took care of the islanders with a 77-63 victory. The win was the third in a row for UNLV, the team's only loss thus far coming against Oregon by just four points, 83-79.
As for the Pilots, they've been unable to put together consistent efforts from one game to the next, alternating wins and losses over the course of the first seven games as a result. Over the weekend, Portland was taken down by Washington, 72-60, on the road, which means the squad is now one game under .500.
This game is the first between the programs since 1967, back when the Runnin' Rebels won a pair of outings in consecutive days on the road. UNLV took both games by double figures, with Elburt Miller posting a UNLV record 55 points in the first-ever matchup.
First-half play was key for the Runnin' Rebels as they knocked down 58.8 percent of their field goal attempts, including 5-of-7 behind the three-point line, as they took a 49-27 advantage at the break, en route to a comfortable double-digit win in front of the hometown crowd yet again. Anthony Bennett led four players in double figures with his 16 points, adding eight rebounds as well for the hosts. Savon Goodman chipped in 13 points and seven boards, Mike Moser and Katin Reinhardt 10 points apiece, the latter adding seven assists which was second only to Anthony Marshall who had eight dishes. UNLV finished with 16 turnovers, but that was still one less than a Hawaii squad that was limited to a mere 1-of-18 behind the three-point line. Moser, who averaged a double-double for the Rebels last season with 14.0 ppg and 10.5 rpg, has had some lackluster efforts in the early going for the team in 2012-13, currently averaging 12.3 points and 98.2 boards per contest. Moser shot a modest 33.1 percent from three-point range a year ago, but this time around he is hitting only 17.6 percent, which is more of a reason for him to remain in the paint as much as possible.
Portland managed to move out to an early three-point lead in the first half against Washington State on Saturday, but it was short-lived as the Cougars held the visitors to just seven field goals in the first half. Despite holding the hosts to just 36.4 percent from the floor in the frame, Portland still trailed by double figures at the break, en route to the 12-point setback. The Pilots were paced by Ryan Nicholas with 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds, shooting 5-of-9 behind the three-point line as the team overall knocked down 11-of-25 out on the perimeter. Portland has been playing much better in the last couple of games, combining for just 13 turnovers in two outings, after averaging 17 miscues per game in the first five. Nicholas, who has been guilty of his share of turnovers, continues to lead the team in scoring with 13.4 ppg, and he is also tops on the glass (8.9 rpg), while Kevin Bailey puts up 11.1 ppg, but could be even more productive if not for the foul trouble that has seen him disqualified three times already.