LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jordan Caroline had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 22 Nevada to a 79-74 victory over UNLV on Thursday in a quarterfinal matchup between in-state rivals in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Top-seeded Nevada (27-6) used a 22-6 run early in the second half to erase a 12-point deficit and seize momentum after a dismal offensive performance in the first half.
After hitting just 11 of 38 from the floor, including 4 of 12 from long range, and missing 14 of its last 18 in the first half, Nevada opened the second half by hitting 9 of 11 from the floor, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
Kendall Stephens added 15 points and five rebounds, while Josh Hall scored 16 and Caleb Martin had 12 points and five rebounds for the Wolf Pack.
Kris Clyburn led No. 8 seed UNLV (20-13) with 19 points and six rebounds, while Mountain West freshman of the year Brandon McCoy had 12 points and 14 rebounds and Shakur Juiston had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Runnin’ Rebels, who closed the regular season with a five-game losing streak while allowing 88.4 points per game, allowed Nevada to make 18 of its last 26 attempts.
UNLV looked like the polar opposite of a team that was embarrassed by 26 points on its home floor one week earlier by Nevada, hitting 14 of 32 from the field and 6 of 13 from 3-point range to head into the locker room with a 39-31 lead at the half. The Rebels also outrebounded Nevada, 25-22, while outscoring the Wolf Pack in the paint, 14-10.
The Rebels outrebounded Nevada for the game, 46-31, but committed 14 turnovers, which the Wolf Pack converted into 16 points.
UNLV: After a hot start to ignite the Runnin’ Rebels in their own building, scoring 13 points by halftime, senior guard Jovan Mooring got into foul trouble and was held scoreless in the second half, missing three 3-point attempts over the last 1:17 of the game.
Nevada: Stephens’ hot hand from 3-point range sparked the Wolf Pack offense in the second half. After shooting 2-for-8 from the floor in the first 20 minutes, the senior guard hit 3 of 4 from the field — all from long range. He became the program’s single-season leader for 3-pointers; he now has 118 on the year.
UNLV: Will hope for a call from the NIT selection committee.
Nevada: Will play in Friday’s semifinal round against either Fresno State or San Diego State.