UNLV basketball fans might want to hold off making those Final Four reservations.
As Dixie State, a well-coached Division II team from that noted basketball hotbed of Saint George, Utah, showed Wednesday night, the Runnin’ Rebels still have a long ways to go to live up to all the preseason hype.
A long ways.
UNLV had to rally from a four-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime, then overcame a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes of OT to finally pull out a 81-80 exhibition victory over the Red Storm at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Senior point guard Anthony Marshall drove off a Quintrell Thomas screen at the top of the key and then hit a slicing Carlos Lopez-Sosa under the basket for a layup with six seconds left in overtime to win it, capping an 8-0 UNLV run over the final 2:47.
Video of the final minute of action, which also features a steal and free throw by Justin Hawkins with 50 seconds remaining to cut the Dixie lead to 80-79, is below. Both teams were out of timeouts down the stretch.
UNLV, ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll, led by as many as 18 points in the first half and looked like it might be on its way to a blowout.
But Dixie State, behind the outside shooting of guard McKay Massey (25 points, 6 of 8 3-pointers) and forward Dalton Groskruetz (19 points, 3 of 5 treys), took advantage of poor Rebel shot selection and shooting (6 of 32 3-pointers, 18.8 percent) and surprisingly poor ball-handling (21 turnovers) to rally to take a 65-63 lead on a 3-pointer by Groskruetz.
The Red Storm remained in front until freshman Katin Reinhardt drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:08 left to put UNLV back ahead, 72-71.
The Rebels looked in good shape to win it in regulation when prize recruit Anthony Bennett (9 points, 8 rebounds) hit the second of two free throws to make it 73-71 with six seconds remaining. But Groskruetz was fouled with a second left by Lopez-Sosa and then hit two pressure-packed free throws to force overtime.
The Rebels, playing without all-Mountain West forward Mike Moser (15 points, 6 rebounds) who had fouled out in regulation, allowed the first seven points of overtime to fall behind 80-73. But Groskruetz, who had a dunk and 3-pointer to highlight the Red Storm spurt, fouled out with 2:47 to go and Dixie State failed to score the rest of the way.
Reinhardt, who finished with a team-high 20 points, keyed UNLV’s game-ending 8-0 run with a huge 3-pointer from the left corner that saw him end up landing on his back in Gucci Row.
Marshall finished with 16 points, 6 assists and 4 of UNLV’s 16 steals while Thomas added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.