Rashad Vaughn was terrific and he did enough to keep UNLV in the game long enough to make the plays down the stretch to force overtime. Then, he stepped his game up in the extra session. Vaughn finished with 25 points and seven rebounds as UNLV squeaked out a 75-73 overtime home victory over Portland on Wednesday night. Cody Doolin was steady, and though he disappeared for long stretches throughout the game, he probably deserves an A+ just for the ridiculous plays he made on the pass that allowed Dwayne Morgan to tie the the game at the end of regulation and the twisting, turning layup Doolin made to win the game at the end of overtime. He had all kinds of trouble finding Portland point guard Alec Wintering on the defensive end. He wasn’t solely responsible for the assignment a whole lot, but there were still some major lapses. Jelan Kendrick was mostly quiet.
Chris Wood’s numbers look just fine as always. He’s an unbelievably gifted player who could probably post a double-double in his sleep. At times on Wednesday, it looked like he was trying to do just that. He was yanked out of the game for a long stretch in the second half for what appeared to be a lack of effort on the defensive end. Wood just has too many of these hiccups. Perhaps the benching will get through to him. He did make a couple pivotal plays in the extra session, which could be a good sign. Goodluck Okonoboh really didn’t have much of an impact on the game. Portland is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, but UNLV allowed 16 offensive boards and was out-rebounded 38-30 overall.
The UNLV bench is pretty short to begin with, but the coaching staff seems to be relying more and more on the starters. Jordan Cornish played just seven minutes. Dwayne Morgan didn’t get much run early, but played a lot down the stretch. That proved to be a good move. Morgan made the basket to tie the game at the end of regulation, then hit a jumper in the lane to give UNLV a lead in overtime. Patrick McCaw was great again. The first man off the bench is playing a bigger and bigger role each game and is quickly becoming one of UNLV’s most important players. He provided an immediate spark upon entering the game in the first half and finished with eight points and two rebounds in 31 minutes. McCaw also has a profound impact on the defensive end where he is constantly disruptive in the passing lanes.
It was clear from the opening tip that Portland wanted to slow the game down, limit possessions and try to take advantage of its pair of 6-foot-11 post players. It’s not easy to get a well-coached, determined team out of that style, but UNLV never really looked like it even tried. The caveat to that would be that when a team is as proficient at rebounding the ball as the Pilots are, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done to speed them up. Rice did finally put on a full-court press with 3:31 to play and UNLV trailing 59-53, but it might have been nice to see it a bit earlier. In the end, it worked. Rice should also be given credit for getting the right guys on the court at the right times on Wednesday night. Morgan didn’t play much, but was in the game to make several big plays.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.