UNLV was unable to sustain its early momentum before dropping its first game of the relocated Maui Invitational in Asheville, N.C.
The Runnin’ Rebels (0-2) bid for a better showing on Tuesday when they play Alabama (1-1) in the consolation bracket matchup.
UNLV bolted out of the blocks early on Monday, connecting on its first five shots — including three from 3-point range — to score the first 13 points of the game. Unfortunately, the bottom fell out from there en route to a 78-51 setback to No. 14 North Carolina.
“As the game wore on, they picked up the pressure, brought some presses, some traps, denied entries more on the wings, and we didn’t do the job we needed to do to be stubborn to get open,” Runnin’ Rebels coach T.J. Otzelberger said.
UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton scored 15 points to record his 21st consecutive game with double-digit points. Hamilton made 7 of 19 shots from the floor, but the rest of his teammates combined to go 11-for-43 from the field.
“I think North Carolina started to have more pressure, bringing us out like 35-40 feet out on the court,” Hamilton said, per the Las Vegas Sun. “They started to key in more, and we didn’t have much ball movement.”
Caleb Grill added 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field (3-of-9 from 3-point range) for the Runnin’ Rebels, who made just 3 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc in the second half.
“We didn’t cut well enough to put ourselves in great position, and eventually it pushed us out on the floor and we were running our offense at 35-40 feet, which is a challenge,” Otzelberger said.
David Jenkins Jr., who made just 1 of 9 shots on Monday, has yet to find his range since transferring from South Dakota State. He is shooting 16.7 percent from the field in a two-game span.
Alabama can relate to UNLV’s shooting woes, as the Crimson Tide shot just 24.1 percent from 3-point range in their lackluster 82-64 loss to Stanford on Monday.
Jahvon Quinerly had a team-high 14 points and Jaden Shackelford added 10 to record his 17th straight game in double-digit scoring. Shackelford, however, went 3-for-13 from the field.
“Sometimes our shot selection hasn’t been great, to be honest with you,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said, per AL.com. “We have some guys forcing some contested ones up, trying to make something happen instead of just playing how we need to play.”
To make matters worse for Alabama, it was out-rebounded 48-31 and only had four second-chance points.
–Field Level Media