UNLV coach Dave Rice didn’t mince words after his team was embarrassed on its home court by UC Santa Barbara, 86-65, on Tuesday night.
“A pitiful performance,” Rice said.
And that might have been putting it mildly.
Simply put, the Rebels were out-shot, out-rebounded and out-hustled by the Gauchos (2-0) who shot 55.8 percent from the floor, led by as many as 26 points in the second half and handed UNLV (1-1) its worst home loss since a 98-73 setback to USC in 2003.
Alan Williams, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound senior forward, dominated inside, scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds while also getting Rebel forwards Roscoe Smith and Carlos Lopez-Sosa into early foul trouble. Senior point guard Kyle Boswell added 19 points, connecting on 5-of-7 3-pointers.
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Senior guard Kevin Olekaibe, despite playing with a sore groin muscle, led the Rebels with 15 points, including 5-of-11 3-pointers, while true freshmen Kendall Smith (13) and Jamal Aytes (10) also finished in double figures.
The Rebels actually led early, 13-11, thanks to an Aytes layup off a pass from Lopez-Sosa. But UCSB’s zone caused UNLV fits after that and the Gauchos closed the half with a 26-9 run to take a 45-29 halftime lead.
Things got worse in the second half. A Boswell 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining gave UCSB its largest lead of the night, 74-48, as many in the crowd of 12,242 hit the exits.
The Gauchos finished the night shooting 55.8 percent from the floor including 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from 3-point range. UNLV, which was also outrebounded, 41-33, connected on just 36.5 percent of its shots.
“Everybody feels like they let each other down,” Olekaibe said.
“Obviously we can’t let a team come in here and shoot 56 percent from the floor on our home court,” Rice said.
“We’ve got to remember how this feels and we’ve got to bottle it up and understand how much better we have to do on every possession: every possession in practice and every possession in every game. It’s life or death in terms of on the basketball floor.”
The Rebels return to action on Friday night against Omaha.
–MyLVsports.com staff report