LARAMIE, Wy. – The game had been over for only about 10 minutes but UNLV’s basketball team was still putting the “Runnin’ ” into “Runnin’ Rebels.”
Light snow had started falling outside Arena-Auditorium midway through the second half of UNLV’s 65-42 blowout victory over Wyoming (18-9, 4-9), and the Rebels wanted to make sure they got on their charter flight home before weather forced them to stick around another night here.
All things considered, the Rebels probably could have left at halftime.
Khem Birch paced UNLV (21-7, 8-5), which led 32-12 at intermission and by as many as 27 points in the second half, with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds — the third double-double of his career — while Mike Moser (11), Bryce Dejean-Jones (11) and Katin Reinhardt (10) also finished in double figures.
Everyone who played for the Rebels scored except two: Carlos Lopez-Sosa and … brace yourselves … Anthony Bennett.
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Bennett attempted just two shots and played only four minutes before departing with a sore left shoulder. UNLV coach Dave Rice said the muscular 6-foot-8, 230-pound freshman woke up with the shoulder hurting.
“He slept on it wrong,” Rice said. “Woke up this morning and it was stiff.”
Evidently those Hilton pillows set a mean pick on the future NBA lottery choice.
It should be noted that Rice didn’t seem overly concerned about the injury. Trainer Dave Tomchek, according to Rice, initially cleared Bennett to play in the game.
“I didn’t think it was that serious until he couldn’t rebound because his left shoulder was bothering him a lot,” Birch said. (Hear more what Rice and Birch had to say about Bennett’s injury in the video above.)
Turns out the Rebels didn’t really need the big fella anyway, especially with Wyoming playing without their first team all-Mountain West forward Leonard Washington, who missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle.
The Rebels led wire-to-wire in snapping a four-game Mountain West road losing streak and climbed within a game of second place Colorado State in the process. UNLV finished with a 47-25 rebounding edge and outshot the Cowboys, 50 percent to 28.8 percent.
About the only negatives for UNLV were 18 turnovers, many once again of the careless variety, and Bennett’s achy shoulder.
The Rebels have a week off now before playing at Nevada on Saturday afternoon.