FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Blame it on the chilly temperatures that dipped well zero degrees outside Moby Arena.
Blame it on a hangover from a remarkable comeback at the end of a 73-69 victory over Boise State on Saturday.
Blame it on the dark green seats and the unsightly floor design that seemingly always brings out the worse in UNLV dating back to the Lon Kruger era.
Whatever the reason, the Rebels’ four-game Mountain West win streak ended with a thud and a shocking dud, 75-57, on Wednesday night.
Daniel Bejarano, benched for most of a 65-56 loss to No. 5 San Diego State on Saturday after getting into a heated sideline spat with head coach Larry Eustachy, took his frustrations out on the Rebels, scoring a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds as Colorado State (13-10, 4-6) snapped a three-game losing streak in convincing fashion.
Khem Birch had 15 points and 12 rebounds for UNLV (15-8, 6-4) but was one of the few Rebels who displayed much energy in a surprisingly lackluster performance.
“It’s a different environment here,” Birch said on the team’s post-game radio show. “I’m not trying to make excuses but the altitude is really hard. I see the guys’ lips turning all white and everything but that’s no excuse. This is probably the worse game on the road we’ve (played). Everyone didn’t come out and play. I compare this game to the (UC Santa Barbara) game.”
Yep, in the same class as the 86-65 beat-down by the mighty Gauchos on Nov. 12.
Colorado State shot 50 percent from the floor, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range. UNLV finished with just three steals and force only seven turnovers while shooting 35.6 percent from the floor and 8-of-16 from the free throw line.
Colorado State led by as many as 14 points in the first half en route to a 41-28 halftime advantage. The Rams increased the margin to 20 points early in the second half and were never really threatened the rest of the way as Rebel coach Dave Rice emptied his bench in an effort to try and find some kind of spark.
“There were way too many mistakes,” Rice said. “We’re 23 games into this and it’s unacceptable the mistakes that we made.”
So how do the Rebels bounce back?
“We can’t take any team so lightly,” Birch said. “I felt like we took this team so light. Wyoming (which plays at UNLV on Saturday night) isn’t the best team out there … they’re talented but not the best team. We can’t just take Wyoming as a light team, we’ve got to take them as a San Diego State.”
MyLVsports.com staff report
Photo courtesy UNLV Athletics