The 14th ranked Runnin’ Utes Men’s Basketball team head to Las Vegas for the MGM Grand Showcase Saturday night to face the UNLV Rebels. The Utes and Rebels basketball follwed the Las Vegas bowl where the nationally ranked Utah Football team defeated the Colorado State Ram’s 45-10.
The Utes and Rebels basketball teams both came out slow to start the game with turn overs and poor shooting. Each team had one field goal and were tied 3-3 at the first media timeout. Coming out of the timeout Delon Wright sank a couple free throws and the Utes started to get into a rhythm but it didn’t last as both teams defense were like blankets. The big problem occurred with Utah’s Jakob Poeltl was called for his second foul with half way through the first half. This brought a bigger roll upon Utah senior center Dallin Bachynski.
UNLV tied the game up for the first time at just under 6:00 minutes left in the first half and took their first lead with just under 4:00 to go. The shooting percentages for both teams in the first half were terrible. Delon Wright was 0 – 5 in the closing moments of the first half. Offensively the Utes were in a slump and could’t buy a basket. The Utes were desperately needing Jordan Loveridge at this point in the game. Utah was shooting just 22.7% at the under 4:00 minute media timeout with the score Utes 17, Rebels 21. The early two fouls on Jakob Poeltl really hurt the Utes at the end of the second half. The Utes kept it close and ended the half up 24-23 with a last second layup by Delon Wright. The Utes shot just 28% from the field yet shot 37.5% from three but the most glaring percentage for the first half was Utah’s 50% (7-14) from the line which has been a struggle for the Utes all season. UNLV faired no better at 36% from the field and 16.7% from three and an abysmal 44.4% from the foul line.
A tale of two halves for the Utes and Rebels basketball teams
Utah continued to push the defense on UNLV and slowly started to build up a lead and some confidence shooting as the second half progressed. Poeltl picked up his third found within the first four minutes of the second half and was back to the bench. He reentered 6 minutes later and the Utes went right back to a six point lead shortly there after.
The Utes had a ten point lead over UNLV at the under 8:00 minute media time out. Jakok Poeltl picked up his 4th foul at the same time which is when UNLV made their runs in the first half. Dallin Bachynski had a decent game yet took a couple hard knocks to the nose which he will feel tomorrow. He was awarded technical free throws on the second hit when Christian Wood hit him on his shooting motion going up for a shot.
Brandon Taylor was one of the best shooters on the court tonight. Taylor was 7 of 12 from two and 2 of 6 from three ending with 16 points. Delon Wright filled the stat sheets again with 17 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 4 steals. UNLV was led by freshman guard Rashad Vaughn with 16, and Center Goodluck Okonoboh with 6 blocks.
The next game for the Utes is the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on December 23rd at the Huntsman center.