LAS VEGAS -- A quick look at UNLV's 90-80 victory over top-ranked North Carolina in the Las Vegas Invitational championship game on Saturday night:
What it means: That No.1 vs. No. 2 matchup that everyone was looking forward to with Kentucky at Rupp Arena next Saturday? It’s not going to happen. The Tar Heels, now 5-1, will surely lose their top ranking -- but more important is how they recover, not from just losing but being outplayed in mostly every facet of the game. UNLV, under first-year coach Dave Rice, remains undefeated at 7-0, and the "Re-bels!" chant will linger for quite a while.
How it happened: Despite only 13 first-half points from its star trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller, UNC led 42-38 at halftime. But UNLV opened the second half with a 14-0 run, during which the Tar Heels missed 10 straight shots, to take a 52-42 lead. UNC tried to chip away, but the Rebels swished and pounded -- taking advantage of UNC’s suspect perimeter defense, and scoring consistently on second-chance points. The Rebels, whose home arena is only a few miles away, fed off its raucous crowd. Chace Stanback led the Rebels with 28 points.
Numbers to note: Barnes, Henson and Zeller were a combined 11-for-34 shooting. ... UNLV made 13 3-pointers and UNC countered with just four. That's a 27-point difference from beyond the arc. ... Carolina also gave away points at the charity stripe, making just 20-of-33 (60.6 percent), while UNLV went 15-of-18 (83.3 percent).
What’s next: The next seven days only get more challenging for the Tar Heels. First, they play Wisconsin on Wednesday at the Smith Center in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Then, that trip to Rupp Arena. Things won't be easy for the Rebels either. UNLV plays back-to-back road games at two of this season's top mid-majors: UC Santa Barbara and Wichita State.
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