Wood puts the lumber to Bulldogs, 73-61

UNLV sophomore forward Christian Wood has been a hot topic on social media and sports radio talk shows this season.

Some have questioned the intensity of the physically-gifted 6-foot-11, 220-pound forward. Others wondered about his toughness. But Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, there was no disputing that Wood put on the kind of dominating performance that has drawn the strong attention of NBA scouts.

Wood just missed a rare 20-20 game, finishing with a game-high 27 points, 19 rebounds, seven blocks and five dunks to lead the Rebels to a 73-61 victory over Fresno State.

“Chris Wood was sensational tonight,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “He was very tough to stop.”

Posting and driving against a Fresno State squad that didn’t have a defender taller than 6-foot-9, Wood finished 8-of-18 from the floor and attempted just two 3-pointers. He could have surpassed his career-high of 29 points if he had shot a little bit at the free throw line where he was just 11-of-17.

“I think he’s starting to do a much better job of establishing himself, being strong and catching the ball (in the post),” Rice said. “I think one of the biggest things is that he is practicing more consistently.”

“I knew I had to rebound, stay aggressive, stay in the post,” Wood said. “I tend to get outside a little bit but I think I did a good job today of staying inside.”

Rashad Vaughn finished with 18 points, including 3-of-7 3-pointers, and Patrick McCaw added seven points, seven rebounds, five assists and no turnovers to lead UNLV (14-10, 5-6), which won for the fourth time in its last five games.

The Rebels, who built a 35-25 halftime lead and led by as many as 18 points in the second half, held Fresno State (11-13, 6-5) to just 37 percent shooting and outrebounded the Bulldogs, 43-35. Julien Lewis, a transfer from Texas, finished with 16 points and three steals to lead Fresno State.

Before the game, the crowd gave a round of applause for former UNLV and Fresno State head coach Jerry Tarkanian, who remains hospitalized locally in critical condition battling a respiratory infection. Some “Pray for Tark” signs were also displayed by fans during the contest.

UNLV returns to action Saturday at 11 a.m. (PT) at Air Force in a game that will be televised on ESPN3.

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