Oscar Bellfield's sharp shooting and UNLV's stingy defense got the No. 24 Rebels to their first 8-0 start since a more famous Runnin' Rebels team did the same thing.
Bellfield scored 24 points on 5 of 6 shooting from 3-point range Saturday night to help UNLV beat Nevada 82-70 and start the season 8-0 for the first time since the 1990-91 team won 34 straight before losing to Duke in the Final Four.
"Oscar was fantastic," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "He hit shots from the start really. And the second half, he stepped up and made shots. It seemed like every time we needed a bucket to keep that margin — to keep them at arms length — he stepped up and made a big play."
Bellfield shot 8 of 12 from the field on the game for the Rebels, who led 46-25 at the half en route to their fifth straight victory over their rivals.
"We're playing hard," Kruger said. "They guys really did a good job defensively and picked up some steals. It was a combination of a lot of solid play. We were pretty solid defensively the first 12 or 14 minutes."
UNLV took a 22-2 lead before allowing Nevada its first field goal with 9:04 to go before the half.
"They come at you every possession like a swarm of bees," Nevada's Deonte Burton said of the Rebels' pressing defense. "They don't stop. You can't get rid of them."
Burton and Malik Story each scored 15 points while Dario Hunt added 14 points and 13 rebounds for Nevada (1-6), which has lost six in a row and is off to its worst start since the 1999-2000 team began 1-6 on the way to a 9-20 finish.
The Wolf Pack start three freshmen and a sophomore after last year's stars Armon Johnson and Luke Babbitt joined the NBA's Portland Trailblazers. But Nevada coach David Carter said they no longer could blame their inconsistent play on that.
"We have no more excuses. We've played seven games. Their feet are wet and its time to be sophomores," Carter said. "It's just a matter of being consistent."
Hunt had two baskets and blocked a shot in the first minute of the second half as Nevada opened with an 8-0 run to cut UNLV's lead to 46-32 with 17:09 remaining. Kevin Panzer's basket inside pulled the Wolf Pack to within 50-37 but Bellfield answered with consecutive 3-pointers to make it 56-37 at 12:37.
Nevada made it 62-52 on Burton's 3 from the top of the key with 8:07 left in the game, but Bellfield answered again from long range to make it 65-52 at 7:45 and Nevada could get no closer after that.
Nevada missed its first 13 shots from the field before Burton's 10-footer from the left side of the lane made it 22-6 at 9:04 of the first half.
The Rebels, who entered the game ranked ninth in the NCAA in field-goal defense (34.9 percent), held Nevada to 21 percent from the field the first half and 42 percent on the game. UNLV shot 54 percent from the field on the game.
Source: AP News