Nwamu helps UNLV beat No. 15 Oregon 80-69
LAS VEGAS — Mountain West Conference play doesn’t open until Dec. 30. By then, UNLV may have already made quite the name for itself.
Ike Nwamu scored 19 points and UNLV upset a ranked team for the second time this season, beating No. 15 Oregon 80-69 on Friday night.
Jerome Seagears added 16 points for the Rebels, who also beat then-No. 13 Indiana in Maui, Hawaii on Nov. 25.
Patrick McCaw had 14 points for UNLV, and 7-foot freshman Stephen Zimmerman Jr. had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Ben Carter, who transferred to UNLV from Oregon, scored 10 points.
UNLV shot 44.8 percent from the floor, connecting on 26 of 58 attempts, including 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) from 3-point range.
"One of the differences in the game was we didn’t settle for too many jump shots in the second half," UNLV coach Dave Rice said. "I thought we attacked the basket with Stephen Zimmerman inside making some huge plays, obviously Ben Carter was aggressive and I thought Ike attacking the basket and Jerome attacking the basket were huge for us."
Zimmerman shot just 5 of 14 from the field but hit two free throws at the 16:15 mark of the second half to give the Runnin’ Rebels their biggest lead of the game, 55-35. But that’s when the Ducks responded with a 9-0 run to slice into UNLV’s lead.
"I expressed my concern to the guys at halftime about our effort level for the second half because we had the double digit lead," Rice said. "I thought we came out with energy and played well and then we just hit a stretch where we just couldn’t hit a basket. … But I thought we found our way, and we got back to attacking the basket, getting to the free-throw line, I thought the game changed back for us in the right way."
Zimmerman picked an ideal time for his first field goal of the second half, helping the Rebels end a near-10 minute drought from the floor.
The Ducks closed to 59-54 before Carter made two free throws, Zimmerman connected on a jump shot and McCaw made a layup to restore UNLV’s double-digit lead.
"We got it down a couple times, but we just put ourselves in a bad position and never quite got it back," Oregon coach Dana 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 controlled the tempo from the opening tip, burying three straight 3-pointers to open a 9-2 lead. UNLV used runs of 13-5, 10-0 and 7-0 to hold off the Ducks throughout the first half.
The Ducks shot a bleak 32.4 percent (11 of 34) from the floor, including a meager 2 of 8 (25 percent) from beyond the 3-point line over the first 20 minutes, while the Rebels shot 48.6 percent (17 of 35), including 8 of 16 (50 percent) from long-range.
Nwamu scored 14 of his points in the first half, while McCaw added eight.
Oregon, which was held scoreless over the final 3:31, was led by Dwayne Benjamin’s 21 points. Chris Boucher had a double-double for the Ducks, with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey added 13 points, while Dillon Brooks had 12 for the Ducks.
"They got off to a great start, shot the ball well in the first half, our defense wasn’t what it needed to be at all," Altman said. "We got ourselves in a big hole there and had a lot of trouble coming back."
Oregon: Dorsey took a nasty spill with 9:53 left. His right leg split one way, and his left knee buckled beneath him. He had to be helped from the court, but then returned with 5:05 remaining. Altman said in his post-game press conference the team doctor said it was fine and he seemed to be walking fine around the locker room.
UNLV: McCaw, the reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Week, was 5 for 10 from the floor. … Carter and Zimmerman were teammates for one season in high school, at Las Vegas’ national powerhouse Bishop Gorman, before Carter went to Oregon for two years. After redshirting his junior season, Carter is playing his first year with UNLV.
Oregon: Plays Navy on Monday.
UNLV: Visits Wichita State on Wednesday.