There isn’t a better teammate on UNLV than Khem Birch. He is as thoughtful and sincere a kid as the Rebels have had in years. His heart is as big as his wingspan, a young man who at times can be as naive as he is compassionate. There is no phony to him.
For some reason, the first thing that popped into mind upon reading former Brigham Young gunner Jimmer Fredette was on his way out with the NBA’s Kings was a “Seinfeld” episode called “The Jimmy.”
The Rebels were good enough on Wednesday night, beating a Colorado State team that couldn’t match up in talent but was again coached well enough to make things interesting.
Senior guard Kevin Olekaibe has played enough college basketball to know that runs are part of the game, so when Colorado State cut the Rebels’ 56-44 lead to 62-61 with 9:23 remaining, he knew what to do.
It was not a last-second thriller, and there was no highlight-reel play that put UNLV over the top. But junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was willing to take this one any way he could get it.
Instant replay gets it right, but wrecks spontaneous thrill of sinking a buzzer-beating basket.
Four days after an emotionally crushing loss, the Rebels need to rebound. On a team with no prototypical strong leader, Kevin Olekaibe is attempting to be the player who sets the tone.
It’s not a conspiracy that Oliver Stone would be inclined to turn into a documentary. It was two days too late, but some evidence surfaced to suggest that Deville Smith’s last shot against Boise State should have beat the clock.
It was as difficult and emotional a loss as you can imagine for UNLV’s basketball team. The Rebels played their hearts out for 45 minutes Saturday night and deserved a better fate.
When it comes to the NCAA Tournament this college basketball season, most everyone views the Mountain West in a similar manner: a conference worthy of two berths. Maybe.