Fans inside the Thomas & Mack Center were loudly booing UNLV with nine minute to go, as UC Santa Barbara extended its lead to 69-47. For those that stayed, the boos reemerged at the end of the Rebels’ embarrassing 86-65 home loss to the Gauchos on Tuesday night.
Alan Williams, one of the top forwards in the Big West, shot 9-of-19 from the field for 21 points, nine bounds and two blocks while Kyle Boswell added 19 points. Dave Rice played 12 players on Tuesday night, as the team shot 37 percent from the floor with none of his starters cracking double figures.
Jamal Aytes put UNLV up 13-11 with more than 12 minutes to go in the first half. The Rebels would hold that lead for 48 seconds before the Gauchos reclaimed the lead off a Taran Brown 3-pointer. From there UC Santa Barbara built a 16-point lead heading into halftime. It didn’t get much better in the second half, as the Gauchos got the lead as high as 26.
Rice has a roster that’s filled with talent, but it’s new talent playing together after seeing Anthony Bennett leave for the NBA, Anthony Marshall graduate and Katin Reinhardt and Mike Moser electing to transfer.
Khem Birch and Bryce Dejean-Jones, who combined for 13 points, six rebounds and five assists on Tuesday, return as starters while Roscoe Smith — plagued with first half foul trouble against UC Santa Barbara — is eligible after sitting out last season. Deville Smith and former McDonald’s All-American Jelan Kendrick fill out the roster. So, the talent is there, but first, that talent needs to mesh together on the floor.
The Rebels have not had an ideal month to kick off the season. Remember on Nov. 1, the Rebels lost a 71-70 exhibition game to Division II Dixie State. November can be even more unkind to UNLV when Jahii Carson and Arizona State come to Vegas, followed by a game against Illinois coming up the week after. Before those games against power conference teams, the Rebels host Nebraska-Omaha on Friday.