Runnin' Rebels Roll Past Wolf Pack, 66-54
Jan. 30, 2013
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Khem Birch scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead UNLV to a 66-54 victory over intrastate rival Nevada, Reno on Tuesday night.
"In-state games are always difficult," UNLV coach Dave Rice said. "I thought, first and foremost, we were very good on the defensive end of the floor. We limited a very good offensive team to 39 percent field-goal shooting."
After falling behind 11-10 with 13:26 left in the first half, the Runnin' Rebels (17-4, 4-2 Mountain West) used a 9-1 run to go up by seven with 9:10 left before halftime, and UNLV never looked back. The win was UNLV's fourth in five games and its seventh in a row against UNR.
"I think they're the deepest team in conference, with them bringing guys off the bench that could score," Nevada, Reno coach David Carter said. "Tonight, they brought (Mike) Moser off the bench and had (Dejean-Jones) start, so they always have guys they can go to."
Moser, who was limited to just three points, wasn't the only key scorer coming off the bench. After traveling to see his father get married over the weekend, Birch was scheduled to return Sunday but missed his flight and a subsequent practice, costing him a starting spot against the Wolf Pack.
"I wanted to come off the bench with so much energy, and that's what happened," said Birch, who also had two blocked shots, three steals and an assist in his 24 minutes on the floor. "I'm so happy with my performance."
Rice said he's been pleased with Birch's progression since he joined the lineup in mid-December.
"Khem continues to provide a great defensive post presence for us," Rice said. "He was credited with two blocked shots, but he's so much more than that ... he's just a huge factor for us on the defensive end, and he continues to get better for us on the offensive end tonight."
The game was the first between the programs as Mountain West members and the Silver State rivals' first as conference foes since 1995-96, when both were members of the Big West.
Jerry Evans Jr. and Deonte Burton scored 14 points apiece for the Wolf Pack (11-9, 2-4), and Evans pulled down nine rebounds.
Both teams next play Saturday: UNLV at Boise State, UNR at New Mexico.