The Thunderbird men’s basketball team was in Las Vegas on Saturday night for a matchup with the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. Despite a strong second half from the T-Birds, the Rebels were able to claim victory with a 101-82 advantage.
“We had tremendous effort and as a coach that’s all you want,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “Guys tried and they left it all on the floor. At the end of the day we’re a couple healthy bodies away from getting over the top.”
The Thunderbirds got started with hot three-point shooting once again, as Brandon Better and Jacob Calloway both hit triples to start the contest for the Thunderbirds. However the Rebels got out to an equally hot start.
Coming out of the first media timeout Jamal Aytes went to work, hitting three straight baskets to pull the Thunderbirds within one.
Through the remainder of the opening half UNLV was able to pull away a bit, and took a 50-38 lead into the halftime break.
The T-Birds really got going after the first media timeout of the second half. Cohee scored four straight points against the Rebel defense, and a breakaway layup from Better cut the Rebel lead to six and forced the home team to take a timeout.
The T-Birds didn’t stop there. With 10:03 to play in the game a layup by Cohee cut the Rebel lead to just one. The two teams would go back and forth for the next four minutes, with SUU cutting the lead down to two on a few separate occasions, but weren’t able to get it any lower than that before the Rebels went on a 8-0 run to extend the lead to 10.
UNLV didn’t look back from that point, winning the contest 101-82.
Cohee led the T-Birds with 24 points, which also tied him for the most points on the night with UNLV’s Jordan Johnson. Cohee also had five assists and four rebounds.
“Individually I felt like I came out a little slow, maybe a little timid honestly,” Cohee said about his performance. “I wasn’t nervous or anything, I just didn’t bring it from the jump. But as a team, I feel like we just battled. We were undermanned, had some injuries, but we were right there until the last six minutes. That a huge step, especially for conference play.”
Cohee didn’t sit for a single minute on Saturday, which Simon attributes to his willingness to put it all on the line for his team.
“He’s been pretty consistent for us so far,” Simon said. “We know what he can do and feel confident putting the ball in his hands. He had to go 40 minutes tonight and it’s tough to do that, but he did it and he gave us everything he had.”
Aytes had a double-double for the T-Birds, scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 boards. Jacob Calloway dropped in 14 points and Ivan Madunic pulled in 12 rebounds for Southern Utah as well.
Both Shakur Juiston and Brandon McCoy had double-double efforts for the Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds will be back on the road on Wednesday for a contest against Pepperdine in Malibu.
Read all about the Thunderbirds on www.suutbirds.com.
Season tickets for the 2017-18 SUU men’s basketball campaign can be purchased at tbirdtickets.com or at the America First Event Center Ticket Office.
SUU Athletics Strategic Communications