LAS VEGAS (AP) — California did not want to go into conference play this way.
The Golden Bears ran into a faster and more athletic UNLV team on Friday, losing 85-68 to the 21st-ranked Rebels.
Justin Cobbs led the Bears (10-3) with 20 points and five assists.
“(UNLV is) good and they played good,” California coach Mike Montgomery said. “We had two primary guys not having good shooting night. We didn’t do the little things.”
California enters the Pac-12 portion of its schedule playing host to USC next Thursday.
UNLV, meanwhile keeps having statement games.
First, it was beating then-No. 1 North Carolina last month. Last Saturday, UNLV beat then-No. 19 Illinois in Chicago.
On Friday, Anthony Marshall had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead UNLV (13-2).
“I have great teammates,” Marshall said. “Everyone on the team gets along. We are brothers. We got some defensive stops that helped get our offense going.”
Chace Stanback had 15 points and Mike Moser added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Rebels (13-2), who have won all eight games this season at the Thomas & Mack Center and 11 overall in Las Vegas.
Oscar Bellfield had 11 points and 11 assists for UNLV, which shot 49 percent from the field and had 22 assists.
“I told the team that for about 35 of the 40 minutes we were sensational,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “We had about 5 minutes where our effort and execution lacked. But overall, I knew that today we would play well. We are always confident going into games. We were locked into what we were trying to do.”
Justin Cobbs had 20 points and five assists for the Golden Bears (10-3), while Allen Crabbe had 13 points and six rebounds and Harper Kamp added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Jorge Gutierrez had 12 points and six rebounds for California.
“They’re a fast-tempo team,” said Gutierrez, who played high school basketball at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. “We were not used to that fast of a tempo. In the first half, shots were not going in. (Coach Mike Montgomery) was telling us to get the ball inside. We took the 15-footers. We should have gone inside more.”
Leading 46-26, the Rebels opened the second half by hitting consecutive 3-pointers and eventually built their largest lead at 72-45 with 8:41 remaining. The Golden Bears cut the lead to 13 points three times in the final 4 minutes.
With the Rebels’ win, the Mountain West Conference is 11-3 against the Pac-12 this season.
“We got off to a tough start,” Montgomery said. “We were not great defensively. Ball was going in for them and not for us. Marshall and Bellfield were good off the pick-and-roll. Our guys were right there. We didn’t do little things. We didn’t block off missed free throws.”
After California led 5-2, the Rebels dominated, taking the lead for good at 11-8 on a 3-pointer by Moser with 15:52 left. The Rebels went on a 21-6 run after the Bears cut it to 15-14.
Stanback capped the half with a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer.
“Offensively, it definitely felt good that we were trying to find the open man,” Stanback said. “Defensively, we wanted to be aggressive, just close out as hard as we can.”
The Rebels had 14 assists in the first half, nine by Bellfield. In the first half, UNLV shot 54 percent from the field and 5 of 11 from 3-point range. The Rebels finished 9 of 24.
California shot 32 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 38 percent for the game.
UNLV leads the all-time series 4-1.
The Rebels have three more games before starting conference play at San Diego State on Jan. 14.
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