UNLV appeared to have finally solved the puzzle that has been the Utah Utes this season, but the Rebels let much of an early lead slip away.
The Rebels have taken a 29-25 lead into the locker room at halftime of the last Mountain West Conference quarterfinal at the Thomas & Mack Center, but the Rebels had led by as many as 13 points in the half.
Darris Santee is the surprise scoring leader for UNLV, posting six points in the first 20 minutes.
Utah shot just 6 of 20 from the floor, but did knock down 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
The Utes also made 9 of 10 free-throw attempts.
David Foster has six points and three rebounds to lead Utah, while Marshall Henderson and Luka Drca each had five points.
Matt Shaw and Tre’Von Willis each had five points for UNLV. Anthony Marshall has five rebounds and three assists to go along with his three points.
Utah outscored the Rebels 13-4 over the final 4:27 of the half, scoring nine of the 13 points from beyond the arc.
UNLV has 10 points off of nine Utah turnovers.
Luka Drca has three fouls for Utah. Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield each have two for UNLV.
Kelly’s record broken
Jimmer Fredette broke the all-time MWC tournament scoring record earlier tonight by scoring 45 points in a victory over TCU.
The record was previously held by former Rebel Lou Kelly, who scored 35 in a game against New Mexico in 2002.
Kelly now hosts a local radio show on KBAD-AM (920) and is in attendance tonight.
He said he had a feeling Fredette had a chance to eclipse his mark.
“I told everyone on the air today that if anybody was going to break my record, it was going to be him,“ Kelly said. “He’s a complete offensive player. He can score in so many different ways.”
The left-hander said he was not disappointed about being erased from the books.
“No, it’s cool,” he said with a smile. “It’s not like I put up 100 or anything. It was 35. It was going to happen sometime.”
UNLV center Matt Shaw returned to action for the first time since injuring his ankle during warmups before the game at Utah last month.
Shaw wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, hitting an open baseline jumper almost immediately after being inserted in the lineup.
A few possessions later, he tried one of his trademark 3-point attempts. He looked a bit rusty on that shot.
It clanged off the backboard, then the rim and bounced out to Utah for a long rebound.
Shaw did knock down a contested 3-pointer late in the half.
Jim Boylen is by far the most active coach on the sidelines in the Mountain West Conference.
There can’t be too many that compete with him nationally, either.
He is always running up and down the sideline and screaming at everyone from his players to the referees.
After one questionable call went in Utah’s favor and led to a media timeout, Boylen ran all the way across the floor to tell the official he made a “great call.”
Of course, as he walked away, he reminded the official that he had missed one on the previous possession.
Boylen also picked up a technical foul in the half.
UNLV assistant coach Lew Hill went up the wrong ramp at halftime.
He went towards UNLV’s usual home locker room, but the team is not permitted to use it during the conference tournament as the league tries to make the arena as neutral as possible.
Let’s hope he finds the right locker room quickly.
He doesn’t want any part of Jim Boylen.