LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Boise State’s sizzling shooting and share-the-ball approach, especially to start the second half, was too much for UNLV in Wednesday night’s Mountain West matchup at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Broncos ran off a 14-3 scoring spurt to open the second half in an 84-66 rout. Chibuzo Agbo made three 3-pointers in the outburst as Boise State reversed a 33-31 halftime deficit.
Agbo, who shot 6-for-10, including 4-for-6 from long range, scored 17 points as did teammate Tyson Degenhart. Degenhart made 8 of 9 shots, pulled in 12 rebounds and dished for six assists.
Boise State (13-4, 3-1 in Mountain West) made 31 of 55 shots overall (56.4%), including a torrid 20-for-28 (71.4%) in the second half. The Broncos made 14 of 26 (53.8%) from 3-point land, including 8-for-13 after intermission. The Broncos had a 53-33 scoring edge in the second half.
“Not really the night we were looking for.” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said. “I thought they did a really good job of continuing to share the ball (in the second half). … They’re a great passing team, share the ball really well, find the open teammate all the time.”
Degenhart said the Broncos tried to be more intense in the second half. “We just didn’t bring what we needed to in that first half,” Degenhart told the Idaho Statesman. “We didn’t have that same intensity on the defensive end that we did the first half against Utah State (their previous victory). So (the coaches) got into us (at halftime) and we really responded from it and it showed on the court.”
Kruger thought his team “sleepwalked” through the first half, even though it had a lead at the intermission. He said the Rebels were not locked in on defense, not quick enough at contending shots or aggressive enough at pressuring the ball.
His players, obviously disappointed with the lopsided loss, agreed.
“We gave up straight-line drives … that’s unacceptable,” said Jordan McCabe, referring to the Rebels’ poor defensive technique. “We got to tighten up.”
Teammate Justin Webster said by “opening up” defensively the Rebels allowed easy penetration. When they tried to compensate, the Broncos were able to kick the ball back out for open shots.
“Definitely hurts,” Webster said of the start of the second half. “That’s something we don’t want to allow, those catch-and-shoot 3s … But they was able to zip passes, knock down open shots.”
Keshon Gilbert led UNLV (12-4, 1-3) with 14 points and Webster added 13. EJ Harkless chipped in 12 points. The Rebels shot 27-for-62 ( 43.5%) including 6-for-19 from long range.
UNLV is back in action Saturday when it hosts Colorado State. Tipoff at the Thomas & Mack Center is 4 p.m.