The final stat line was an impressive one. It read: 21 points, 4-of-6 3-pointers, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and a block.
Bryce Dejean-Jones? Nope.
Kevin Olekaibe? Nope.
Roscoe Smith? Nope.
“This is why we recruited Deville Smith,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said after the junior point guard helped propel the Runnin’ Rebels (7-4) to their fourth straight win, a 92-71 victory over Santa Clara (6-6) on Sunday night in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena.
Yep, Smith, a transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College who was averaging 4.0 points and was 3-of-13 on 3-pointers for the season, scored the most points by a Rebel in any game this season, and did it in impressive fashion.
(CHECK OUT BARRY WONG’S GAME HIGHLIGHTS BELOW)
He topped his season 3-point field goal total in the first half with four, including three in the span of 82 seconds as UNLV built a 47-38 halftime lead.
Roscoe Smith finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, Khem Birch added 14 points and eight rebounds and Dejean-Jones and Jelan Kendrick each scored 13 points as UNLV shot a season-best 60.7 percent (34-of-56) from the floor.
Still, this game will be remembered as the UNLV coming out party for Deville Smith.
“I thought he was terrific tonight,” Rice said. “That’s the guy that we went to watch and we wanted to come in here to be a big part of our program.”
(CHECK OUT DEVILLE SMITH INTERVIEW BELOW)
The timing couldn’t have been better, or more ironic. By winning, UNLV will face Mississippi State (9-2), a 71-66 winner over South Florida, in Monday night’s championship game at 7:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network). Deville Smith, a native of Jackson, Miss., began his career at Mississippi State in 2011-12 and averaged 4.2 points in 26 games, including a 25-point game at Arkansas.
“I’m very excited,” he said about playing his old team. “I’m so amped up to go out there and play right now.”
Thanks to Deville Smith, Birch and Dejean-Jones, UNLV finished with a 50-11 edge in bench scoring against the Broncos, who made it interesting in front of a sparse crowd of about 1,000 (announced at 4,376) thanks to the standout play of true freshman guard Jared Brownridge (game-high 22 points) and 14 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second chance points.
Wait a minute, Birch and Dejean-Jones among the Rebel bench point totals? Turns out the two key starters were five minutes late for the team bus to the arena and Rice benched them at the start of the game.
“They’ve been with us for three years and you can’t be late for a team bus,” Rice explained. “We’re playing for the Las Vegas Classic championship.”
Here more about what Rice had to say about Birch, Dejean-Jones, Deville Smith and the game in the VIDEO BELOW: