UNLV seemed to be matching the lack of energy that came from the small and less-than-enthusiastic crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center for much of the first half on Wednesday night.
With school not in session and a 4-4 UNLV team hosting an opponent most fans didn’t know even had a basketball team, the building could not have been more sterile early on in the game against Radford.
Perhaps that is what enabled the Highlanders to stick around for much of the first half. Radford trailed just 30-29 after an uncontested backdoor layup by Kyle Noreen with 4:51 left before halftime.
The defensive breakdown brought an audible sigh from the crowd that may have served as a wake-up call for UNLV.
Jelan Kendrick hit a jumper just 15 seconds later and Roscoe Smith followed with a layup to extend the lead to five points.
Kendrick and Khem Birch each made a pair of free throws on the next two UNLV possessions and in less than three minutes, the 8-0 run had given the Rebels a 38-29 lead.
A buzzer-beating jumper at the end of the half gave UNLV a 10-point lead that never shrunk below double-digits the rest of the way.