The visiting No. 23 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tallied a win for the Mountain West Conference in the annual Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge with a convincing 82-51 victory over Illinois State Wednesday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
Illinois State (5-2) suffered its worst loss of the season, as UNLV ( 7-0) placed four players in double figures. Anthony Marshall led all scorers with 16 points and added three rebounds and a trio of assists. Derrick Jasper added 12 points for the Runnin’ Rebels and fell one rebound shy of a double-double, after grabbing nine boards.
Senior Austin Hill finished the evening 6-of-14 from the floor and added a pair of free throws to lead Illinois State with 15 points. Sophomore Jackie Carmichael was the only other Redbird with a double-digit scoring effort, tallying 11 points. Senior Tony Lewis led ISU by collecting eight rebounds, his fifth-straight game with at least seven boards.
Illinois State established the inside game early, taking a 6-2 advantage in the opening minutes of the contest with interior buckets from Carmichael and Lewis. ISU scored 18 of its 22 first-half points inside the paint. UNLV responded with a 13-2 run out of the first media timeout, forcing a Redbird timeout at the 12:09 mark in the opening half. Carmichael ended the ISU scoring draught with a transition dunk to trim the Rebel lead to 15-10 and bring life back into the Redbird faithful.
Tre’von Willis later converted a three-point play with 9:29 to play in the first half to push the UNLV lead to double-digits for the first time at 22-10. Less than two minutes later, a block from redshirt freshman Jon Ekey and a transition layup from Lewis cut the UNLV advantage to 24-16.
UNLV built its largest lead of the opening stanza at 17 on a pair of free throws from Willis and took a 39-22 margin into the locker room. The 39 points marked the most given up by Illinois State defense in a half this season.
The Rebels picked up where they left off in the first half to open the second, putting together an
13-2 run and taking a 52-25 lead on a Derrick Jasper jumper with just under 16 minutes remaining in the game. UNLV earned its largest advantage of the game at 76-43 on a baseline bucket from Marshall at the 3:50 mark. The Rebels limited the Redbirds to a season-low .370 shooting percentage and forced a season-high 16 ISU turnovers.
Illinois State will return to action Saturday, Dec. 4, when it welcomes Montana State to Doug Collins Court for a 7:05 p.m. matchup.