UNLV concluded the worst regular season in school history with a 72-59 loss at Fresno State on Saturday afternoon.
The loss meant the Runnin’ Rebels (11-20, 4-14), who tied Air Force (11-20, 4-14) for the basement in the Mountain West Conference, will go into the Mountain West Tournament as the No. 11 seed and will face old nemesis San Diego State (17-13, 9-9), the No. 6 seed, in Wednesday afternoon’s first round at 4 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center. The winner of that game then faces third-seeded Boise State (19-10, 12-6) in the quarterfinals on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m.
UNLV probably couldn’t have drawn a worse matchup than the Aztecs who have won 10 in a row over the Runnin’ Rebels and 19 of the past 23 meetings. San Diego State won both games this season by 13 points, 64-51 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Jan. 17, and 77-64 in San Diego on Feb. 19, and plays the kind of lockdown defense that figures to give the offensively-challenged UNLV major problems.
The Rebels, who snapped a school-record-tying nine-game losing streak with a 66-59 victory over Utah State on Wednesday, failed to build on it against the Bulldogs (19-11, 11-7).
UNLV was competitive for a little over six minutes, taking a 12-11 lead on a Kris Clyburn rebound with 13:40 to go in the first half. But the Rebels then went into one of their all-too-familiar offensive droughts, connecting on just two of their next 18 field goal attempts, and the Bulldogs responded by going on a 23-6 run en route to a 34-18 lead.
Fresno State led by as many as 21 points, 50-29, with 12:33 remaining. The Rebels, who shot just 35.8 percent including 4-of-20 from 3-point range, never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Guard Deshon Taylor scored scored 19 points and has three steals to lead the Bulldogs while guards Jaron Hopkins (16 points, eight rebounds) and Jahmel Taylor (13 points) and center Terrell Carter II (15 points) also scored in double figures.
Clyburn had 18 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to lead UNLV while point guard Jovan Mooring added 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Fresno State, which shot 45.3 percent, finished with a 44-28 edge in points in the paint and forced 16 turnovers.
Click on graphics below for final stats and Mountain West standings.