Utah made six 3-pointers and hit 62.5 percent of his shots to take a 38-30 lead at halftime at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Luke Nevill and Tyler Kepkay each scored eight points to lead a very balanced attack for the Utes.
Tre’Von Willis had his second straight strong first half to help UNLV stay in the game. He had 12 points and three assists, including two 3-pointers in the final minute. Rene Rougeau added 10 points for the Rebels.
Utah led by as many as 12 points in the half.
Whoever came up with the name “free” throws certainly didn’t watch the first half of this contest.
UNLV could be right in the ballgame if it had made some free throws in the first half. The Rebels made just 4 of 10 from the line in the first half.
Darris Santee was 1-for-4 from the line, while Wink Adams missed both of his attempts.
FILLED IN NICELY
Though the crowd was a bit late getting here, the arena is pretty full now.
It is kids day at the Thomas & Mack Center and much of the crowd was next door at the Cox Pavilion for the Kids Festival.
They are here now and they are loud.
The fans made their presence known very early on as Tre’Von Willis scored back-to-back baskets sandwiched around a Utah turnover.
Utah did a nice job keeping the crowd out of the game, but if it gets close, the crowd could play a big role down the stretch.
REF SHOWS RESTRAINT
One of the officials was completely shown up by Utah coach Jim Boylen, yet failed to whistle him for a technical foul.
Boylen ran out on to the court, even getting inside the logo as he yelled his objections.
As Boylen returned to the bench, the official went over and gave him a stern lecture for about 10 seconds.
The problem for UNLV is they don’t get any free throws for a stern lecture. A technical foul would have given them a chance to score some points.
On second thought, maybe it’s better UNLV didn’t have to shoot any free throws as it just would have made the dismal shooting percentage that much worse.
Luke Nevill blocked four shots in the first half. The fans wanted fouls called on several of the blocks, but they were clean for the most part.
The one glaring exception was a block of an Oscar Bellfield layup.
Nevill leveled the comparatively tiny Bellfield before rejecting his shot.
The halftime festivities included a mascot basketball game that featured several of the mascots of local sports teams and companies.
It was won by the team captained by “Hey Reb” as the UNLV mascot sank his second bucket of the game with less than 10 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
The highlight of the game was a 3-pointer by Mojave Max, the “spokestortoise” of the Clark County Desert Conservation Program.
Yes, I just typed that.
Kevin Kruger was cheered by much of the crowd when he was shown on the video screen during a timeout.