Using a 32-10 run in the middle of the second half, Boise State won for the third time in its last eight games with a rare strong finish in its 81-69 victory over UNLV on Tuesday at Taco Bell Arena.
The Broncos (18-10, 9-6 Mountain West) had lost five of their last seven, and had the lead in the final 10 minutes in four of those losses. On Wednesday, they took advantage of a UNLV (16-13, 7-9) group that had just six healthy scholarship players.
UNLV took a 43-39 lead with 17:14 to play, but Boise State responded with its big run to get up 71-53 over the next 10 minutes. The Broncos outrebounded the Rebels 41-29, including 19-9 in the second half. Boise State had 20 offensive rebounds and outscored UNLV 23-6 in second-chance points.
Senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic had 21 points off the bench to pace the Broncos, while senior guard Mikey Thompson, a Las Vegas native, added 18 points. Freshman forward Derrick Jones had a game-high 25 points for the Rebels, who had won three of four coming into the game.
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Halftime: Boise State overcame a big lull to take a slim 35-34 lead at halftime over UNLV.
The Broncos trailed 34-26 with less than 3:30 to the half, falling behind after a 15-2 run. But, they closed the half on a 9-0 run of their own to take the lead back.
Senior guard Mikey Thompson had 11 points to lead the Broncos, while senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic and junior forward James Webb III had eight points apiece. The Broncos had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, with a 10-0 lead in second-chance points and allowing them to fire up 10 more shots than the Rebels. The Broncos were 13-of-39 (33.3 percent) in the first half, the Rebels 12-of-29 (41.4 percent). UNLV missed its last six shots going into the break.
Pregame: The Boise State men’s basketball team looks to the right the ship Tuesday in a 9 p.m. tip against UNLV at Taco Bell Arena, televised on ESPNU.
Losing five of their last seven, the Broncos have struggled in the second halves in each loss, a trend that started Jan. 27 when they lost 87-77 at UNLV after leading by eight at the half.
The Rebels will be down to only six scholarship players in the game, as forward Dwayne Morgan (shoulder), center Stephen Zimmerman (knee) and forward Ben Carter (knee) won’t play against the Broncos. Zimmerman and Carter combined for 28 points in the teams’ first matchup.