Don’t Call It An Upset, Call It SUCCESS; The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Took Down No. 15 Oregon Ducks, 80-69, at 8:00 p.m. Friday Night at The MGM Grand Garden Arena.
by Morgan Evans
The arena was filled with the piercing sound of UNLV fans, and the Rebels did not disappoint as they took down their second ranked opponent of the season. The Runnin’ Rebels are a team filled with depth like no other, and are making a name for themselves as they go.
“Once again this season, our depth won out,” Head Coach Dave Rice said. “One can only start five guys, can only play five guys at a time, and our guys have been so accepting of what we are trying to do, and I’m really really proud of it.”
Starting senior transfer guards Ike Nwamu and Jerome Seagears were on fire; Nwamu led the team with 19 points and Seagears finished with 16 points and six rebounds.
“We really wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Nwamu said. “Once the opportunity came, we got a lot of great offense with attacking, we just took it. It’s a product of hard work, really.”
Nwamu shot 71.4 percent from the 3-point range, making 5 of 7 attempts.
The current Mountain West Conference Player of the Week, sophomore Patrick McCaw continued to be an asset on the court; McCaw scored 14 points, making two rebounds, two assists and four turnovers.
With a win all could be proud of, this one was especially sweet for senior forward Ben Carter.
“I definitely had a little more incentive playing against my old team, my old coaching staff, but it was looking at a week before this game I told everyone it’s just another grab for us to play against a ranked team, and a great team at that, and our team responded today,” Carter said.
Born and raised in Las Vegas Carter returned to play for the Runnin’ Rebels after spending two years up in Oregon for the Ducks basketball team; Carter finished the night with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, a block and a turnover.
With Carter back in his hometown, himself and “Hometown Hero” freshman forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. are a pair of which the city is proud.
Suffering with an ankle injury Zimmerman Jr. was ready to battle through the pain.
“100 percent, my teammates keeping me moving and thinking about other things,” Zimmerman Jr. said. “I know my team need me and that this is a mans game; whatever
pain you have at the time you have to push through it for the betterment of the team.”
Zimmerman Jr. earned his fourth double-double tallying 12 points and 12 rebounds, along with two assists and four blocks.
While Zimmerman Jr. shot 5 of 14 from the field, he hit two free throws with 16:15 left on the clock in the second half, giving the Rebels the biggest lead of the game, 55-35.
The ducks were able to close the gap 59-54 before old teammate Carter, along with the help of McCaw and Zimmerman, were able to give UNLV another double-digit lead.
While Oregon was able to close the gap periodically throughout the game, Head Coach Dana Altman recognized that UNLV was a force they may not of been able to reckon with.
“We got it down a couple times, but we just put ourselves in a bad position and never quite got it back,” Altman said. “They’ve got an athletic ball club, when they get those 3s going they’re pretty tough. We had our shot, we just weren’t tough enough to do it.”
The Rebels went 5 for 5 for free throws in the first half; ending the game shooting 85.7 percent from the free throw line while the Ducks shot a bleak 61.9 percent.
After delivering the No. 15 ranked team their only loss so far is this season, the now 7-1 Runnin’ Rebels are celebrating their victory, but also preparing for their away game Wednesday against Wichita State.
“The win is special for me, but it’s also special for this team,” Carter said.
Morgan Evans is a UNLV junior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a focus in Integrated Marketing and Communications. She is the Las Vegas Cowboys publicist and a writer for UNLV’s online news source, Virtual Rebel. After graduating Morgan plans to pursue a job as the PR head of a major sports organization. Contact: Morgan Evans Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 562.522.6485