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Rebels crush San Jose State behind Smith’s double-double

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Even while Roscoe Smith continues to stack up numbers in the box score, he’s only interested in looking at the scoreboard.

“I’m not an individual statistics type of guy,” the junior forward said. “I just take pride in doing everything I can for us to win.”

Smith did more than enough Wednesday night, totaling 12 points and 15 rebounds as UNLV led wire to wire in a 70-46 victory over San Jose State, the only winless team remaining in Mountain West play.

The nation’s leading rebounder, Smith’s numbers are not going unnoticed by coach Dave Rice, who scanned a box and said, “Another double-double. What is it, his 14th in 21 games? Roscoe was very active.”

And so were junior guards Bryce Dejean-Jones and Deville Smith, who scored 13 points apiece for the Rebels (14-7, 5-3) in their third consecutive win. It never was in doubt.

UNLV, which opened an 11-point margin in the first 10 minutes, took a 35-25 halftime lead and stretched it to 51-34 on Roscoe Smith’s layup with 11:45 to go. Smith scooped up a loose ball in the lane and beat two defenders to the rim.

“We didn’t come in here with the mindset that their record was 0-8,” Roscoe Smith said. “We definitely didn’t take them lightly.”

But the Spartans (6-15, 0-9) put up only light resistance and were unable to mount a serious rally in the second half.

Jaleel Williams had 16 points and nine rebounds for San Jose State. Rashad Muhammad, a freshman from Bishop Gorman High, added 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

But the Spartans shot 3-for-21 from 3-point range, with Muhammad going 1-for-7, in the face of a defensive effort designed to take away long-range opportunities.

The Rebels came into the game ranked second in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage defense.

“The No. 1 thing for us was to try to limit their looks from 3. It’s a team that’s very dangerous because of their ability to shoot the 3,” Rice said. “Our whole philosophy was to contest their 3s and try to make them beat us with tough 2s.”

San Jose State’s guards had some success penetrating the lane, but when they got near the basket, UNLV forward Khem Birch often was waiting to alter or block shots, and he had six blocks.

“We have tremendous help defense,” said Roscoe Smith, who grabbed 11 of his rebounds on the defensive end.

The Spartans, who rank No. 3 nationally in 3-pointers attempted, were held to a season low in points.

“We came in here knowing they were a 3-point shooting team and they put a lot of them up, so we knew we had to stop them,” Dejean-Jones said. “Guys maintained their focus throughout the whole game.”

Dejean-Jones hit 4 of 6 shots, including both of his 3-point attempts, and 3 of 4 free throws. The Rebels made 8 of 18 3s and shot 44.7 percent from the field and 20 of 27 on free throws.

Rice could not find any disappointing aspects of his team’s play, as UNLV committed only eight turnovers.

“For the most part, we played very well from start to finish,” Rice said. “The ball movement was good on the offensive end and we got good looks. We were able to get out in transition and get some easy baskets. Every time they pressured us, we handled their pressure.”

Deville Smith even remained unfazed by the unpredictable antics of San Jose State’s student section, which livened up the tiny crowd of 2,643 in The Event Center.

In the first half, when Smith was at the free-throw line, a couple of fans dropped their pants to show the moon, according to an unconfirmed rumor circulated by some Rebels fans sitting courtside.

“They probably did. I didn’t see that, and I’m glad I didn’t,” Smith said. “My main focus was the net. Their fans were funny to me, and they were doing crazy things.”

UNLV gets back to serious business Saturday when it hosts Boise State.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

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