Live blog: UNLV falls to Arizona in OT, 91-88

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L.E. Baskow

UNLV Rebels guard Jordan Johnson (24) catches a little air on his way to the hoop past Arizona Wildcats guard Dylan Smith (3) during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Published Sat, Dec 2, 2017 (5 p.m.)

Updated Sat, Dec 2, 2017 (9:34 p.m.)

UNLV made a string of mistakes down the stretch and Arizona took advantage, eventually outlasting the Rebels, 91-88, in overtime.

The Rebels had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but were unable to get a good look at the basket, settling for a long missed 3-pointer by Jovan Mooring. In overtime, Arizona converted on a baseline out-of-bounds play with just two seconds on the shot clock, drawing a foul that allowed DeAndre Ayton to give Arizona a 77-76 lead from the free-throw line with 35 seconds remaining. UNLV's next possession ended with reserve freshman forward Tervell Beck missing a 3-pointer, and that sealed the loss for the Rebels.

UNLV has now lost two straight overtime games, and both in heartbreaking fashion. The Rebels committed a late turnover against Northern Iowa that cost them a chance to win in the final seconds.

After a 6-0 start, the consecutive defeats have dropped UNLV to 6-2 on the season.

UNLV and Arizona heading to overtime

Jovan Mooring missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, and UNLV and Arizona are headed to overtime, tied 78-78.

Arizona had a chance to go ahead on the prior possession, but the UNLV defense forced an air ball and a shot-clock violation.

This is the second straight overtime game for UNLV, as the Rebels lost in extra time at Northern Iowa on Wednesday.

Brandon McCoy leads UNLV with a career-high 29 points, while Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton has 23 points.

UNLV and Arizona tied late in second half

It looks like this one is going down to the wire. UNLV and Arizona are tied, 70-70, with 3:44 to play, and Rebels' point guard Jordan Johnson will head to the free-throw line to shoot a pair after the timeout.

The last few minutes has featured back-and-forth action. After Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright stuck a corner 3 with a hand in his face to give the Wildcats a 70-67 lead, UNLV center Brandon McCoy banked in a high-arching 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game.

Jovan Mooring then came up with a steal on the other end and pushed the ball before finding Johnson under the basket. Johnson was fouled and will try to give UNLV the lead from the line, where he's shooting 82.9 percent this season.

UNLV leads Arizona, 60-57 in second half

UNLV's big men are turning it on in the second half, and with 10:12 to play, the Rebels have a 60-57 lead over Arizona.

Shakur Juiston and Brandon McCoy have combined to score all but one of UNLV's 19 points in the second half (backup center Cheickna Dembele picked up the stray point on a free throw). Juiston is up to 20 points and six rebounds on the night, while McCoy has posted 18 points and eight rebounds.

Arizona is sticking close, however. The Wildcats are 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half, and big man Dusan Ristic just converted an and-1 finish inside. He'll take his free throw after the timeout.

UNLV leads Arizona early in second half

Shakur Juiston just threw down a breakaway dunk, and with 15:26 remaining in the second half, UNLV has a 51-43 lead over Arizona.

Marvin Menzies called timeout after the dunk, as the preceding three possessions did not look good for the Rebels. Two ended with turnovers by UNLV, while the third saw Brandon McCoy toss an air ball from the post. Arizona took the opportunity to go on a 5-0 mini-run, but Anthony Smith came up with a loose ball and threw it ahead to Juiston for the dunk to stem the tide.

Juiston is up to 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting. UNLV is shooting 58.8 percent from the floor.

Rebels lead Arizona 41-30 at half

UNLV has gotten back to its formula of pounding the ball inside, and it has worked so far, as the Rebels lead Arizona, 41-30, at the half.

Brandon McCoy (10 points, eight rebounds) and Shakur Juiston (10 points, four rebounds) have powered the Rebels to a 30-24 advantage in points in the paint. For the game, UNLV has attempted just three 3-pointers while making 16-of-27 from inside the arc (59.3 percent).

Arizona freshman phenom DeAndre Ayton has lived up to the billing, totaling 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks in the first half.

Can UNLV close it out in the second half? McCoy and Juiston have already played 16 and 17 minutes, respectively, so they'll have to find a way to keep their intensity level high. They'll also have to clamp down on the glass — in the first half, Arizona grabbed eight offensive rebounds and scored eight second-chance points.

If the Rebels shore up their rebounding and continue to attack the rim on offense, they could be in position to win this game.

UNLV leads Arizona late in first half, 33-28

With 3:32 remaining in the first half, a Shakur Juiston dunk has extended UNLV's lead over Arizona to 33-28.

The game seems to be increasing in intensity with every possession. After Juiston's dunk (off a nice feed from Jovan Mooring), UNLV guard Jordan Johnson appeared to be pushed to the ground on Arizona's inbound play. There was no call, but Arizona coach Sean Miller came out onto the court to call timeout and apparently calm his team.

Mooring has played a solid first half. The senior guard is attacking the basket, and he's got six points and three assists (with zero turnovers).

As a team, UNLV is going to have to tighten up its ball-handling. After kicking the ball away 20 times at Northern Iowa, the Rebels have already committed eight turnovers in this one.

The Rebels will also have to find a way to slow down Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, if it's even possible. Ayton looks every bit of a top NBA draft pick, as he's got 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Rebels start fast, lead Arizona

UNLV has gotten off to a hot start, and with 11:23 remaining in the first half, the Rebels lead Arizona, 15-12.

Shakur Juiston has made a big impact early, totaling six points, three rebounds and a steal. Kris Clyburn's stretch of good play appears to be continuing as well, as he's got five points on 2-of-2 shooting.

It was a late-arriving crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center, but the building has filled up nicely. More than 13,000 fans were expected for tonight's showdown, and the student section is completely packed.

Combine the atmosphere with the fast pace of the game so far, and this looks like a potential barn-burner.

Three keys for UNLV basketball vs. Arizona

The last time UNLV hosted Arizona, just before Christmas in 2014, the game ended with a 71-67 win for the home team and Rebels fans storming the Thomas & Mack Center court. Can UNLV score another upset over a similarly talented Arizona squad tonight (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network)? Three keys to watch:

Battle of the bigs

Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton is a beast capable of dominating a game on both ends of the floor by himself, but the Rebels can’t let his presence dissuade them from feeding the post. Freshman Brandon McCoy is UNLV’s leading scorer (18.6 points per game), but he became an afterthought on offense in Wednesday’s loss at Northern Iowa (nine points, 4-of-5 field goals). Without McCoy’s production in the paint, the Rebels struggled to score. That can’t happen against Arizona, as any offensive lull by UNLV could give the Wildcats a chance to go on a run.

Marvin Menzies needs his offense to keep McCoy involved. UNLV will run some sets designed to get the ball in his hands in position to score, and the Rebels will hope he can match Ayton’s production.

Control pace

Arizona and UNLV both rank among the fastest teams in the country in terms of possessions per game, and both squads are at their best when operating in the open court. For the season, UNLV is scoring 1.09 points per possession in transition (compared to 0.96 PPP in the halfcourt), according to Synergy Sports data, while Arizona is scoring 1.13 PPP in transition (1.03 halfcourt). So this game will probably be played at breakneck speed.

For Arizona, junior guard Allonzo Trier is a dangerous scorer (team-high 23.1 points per game), and he’s especially lethal on the fast break, as he’s shooting 78.6 percent in transition while producing 1.42 points per possession. In isolation, however, Trier’s efficiency drops to 0.64 PPP. UNLV will have to target him in the open floor and force Trier to play against set defenses as much as possible.

Perimeter poise

When Northern Iowa took away the Rebels’ post game, guards Jordan Johnson and Jovan Mooring took the offense into their own hands. Nearly 30 shots later, it was clear the duo had tried to do too much, as they combined to make just 5-of-29 from the field, including 3-of-16 from 3-point range.

Forcing the offense led to poor shot selection and too many turnovers, and that led to a narrow loss. With Johnson and Mooring being fifth-year seniors, the Rebels need more poise from their experienced backcourt, especially against a tough, swarming defense such as Arizona’s.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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