Three takeaways from the UNLV basketball team’s 91-88 loss to Arizona on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center:
1. UNLV’s shot selection was questionable.
The Rebels twice had a chance to win, first in regulation and then in overtime.
In regulation with the score tied at 78, Jovan Mooring dribbled to the right wing. Arizona took away the drive, but he appeared set on taking an outside shot anyway, and his fadeaway 3-pointer missed.
“I hate to say it,” said Steve Lappas, the game analyst for CBS Sports Network. “It’s a selfish play. You’ve got two studs (Brandon McCoy and Shakur Juiston). Throw them the ball.”
Then with about eight seconds remaining in regulation and the Rebels down 87-86, Tervell Beck found himself wide open beyond the arc. He came in cold — Beck played just eight minutes — and missed the shot.
2. Both headliners brought it.
Watching UNLV’s Brandon McCoy and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton go at it down the stretch was quite a treat, two old pals and former AAU teammates.
McCoy twice tied the score in the final 4:18 and once put the Rebels in front. During one stretch, Ayton made two free throws and then three baskets, two on layups and one on a dunk.
McCoy scored 33 points on 13-of-17 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. Ayton also produced a double-double, finishing with 28 points (on 12-of-23 shooting) and 10 rebounds, and his free throw with 35 seconds left in overtime put the Wildcats in front for good at 87-86.
It was quite a show for the fans and the 25 NBA scouts representing 21 teams.
The one criticism on McCoy is he needs to better handle double teams. Arizona constantly sent two defenders at him, and he often struggled, turning the ball over six times.
3. This was the way the Mack used to be.
The crowd was large — it was announced at 14,579 — and the atmosphere electric, a throwback to how the building used to be on a regular basis. There was a little bit of a T-Mobile Arena/Golden Knights feel with a noticeable presence by the opposing fans, but UNLV fans were loud throughout.
UNLV gave those fans something to cheer about most of the night, and the key, of course, is how many will come back. The Rebels play at the MGM Grand Garden Arena twice next week, against Oral Roberts on Tuesday and Illinois on Saturday.