Boring but effective; UNLV’s win over Wyoming a good thing
UNLV defeated Wyoming on Saturday in a game with a pace so slow it made Friday’s opening ceremony in Sochi look breakneck.
Thankfully, the game was much shorter. It lasted only an hour and 40 minutes.
It doesn’t seem possible for something so slow to end so quickly, but the fact that there were only nine free throws attempted combined had something to do with it. That, and Wyoming’s determination to drain the shot clock for all its worth on each and every possession.
The Cowboys’ plodding style led to only 42 total points at halftime. UNLV’s 22-20 lead resembled something closer to a curling score from Sochi.
Watching curlers sweep ice might have been a more exciting way to spend your Saturday night. It wouldn’t be surprising if ‘Runnin’ was removed from the team name.
The saddest part about the game is that it unfolded exactly how Wyoming planned.
Despite ranking 285th in the nation in scoring at only 66.7 points per game, the Cowboys rank 15th in field goal percentage. They minimize possessions while maximizing the quality of shots.
Why would anyone want something that boring?
Well, if you lived in Wyoming, your definition of boring might be slightly different.
Regardless, that style of play has served the Cowboys well. Wyoming has consistently competed with teams possessing far more talent, including two overtime losses to New Mexico and a two-point win over Boise State. Wyoming’s five losses in conference have come by a total of 18 points.
By utilizing the full 35 seconds on nearly every possession, the Cowboys shortened the game and kept the score within reach in the waning moments.
Despite only scoring a season-low 48 points on 43 percent shooting from the floor, it was impressive for UNLV to win a game played at Wyoming’s pace.
When conflicting styles clash, the slower team tends to get their way, so it’s important for UNLV to find ways to win tough games like this.
With hope for getting an at-large birth in the NCAA Tournament shrinking by the day, the remaining games are all about improving for UNLV. With a tournament appearance riding on four days in March, Rice has to do everything possible to get the Rebels prepared for a run at the conference championship.
Winning slugfests like the Saturday game is a step in the right direction, now UNLV just has to find a way to not take two steps backward again. Despite its slip-ups, UNLV sits in third place in the Mountain West standings — in prime position for a first round bye in the conference tournament. The Rebels face New Mexico, Colorado State and No. 5 San Diego State in their final three home games.
The good news is that UNLV is 4-0 at home since they began staying in a hotel the night before the game. At least the Rebels have had better experiences with hotel rooms than the Olympians in Sochi.