CHICAGO (AP) — Mike Moser had 17 points and 11 rebounds, UNLV went on a 14-2 run to close the first half and the Runnin’ Rebels handed No. 19 Illinois its first loss of the season with a convincing 64-48 victory Saturday.
UNLV (11-2), which beat then-No. 1 North Carolina earlier this season, used its quick, switching defense and nine blocked shots to frustrate the Illini at the United Center. Quintrell Thomas added 13 points for UNLV, which won despite getting only two points from leading scorer Chace Stanback.
The cold-shooting Illini (10-1) were led by 19 points from D.J. Richardson. Illinois shot 25.4 percent (16 for 63) and had 15 turnovers. The Illini went 7 of 25 from 3-point range.
Illinois beat UNLV 73-62 in the second round of the NCAA tournament last March.
Thomas hit a jumper to start the Runnin’ Rebels late first-half spurt and also had a three-point play after an Illini turnover.
Oscar Bellfield’s two free throws with just more than a minute to play gave the Runnin’ Rebels a 33-22 lead they held at halftime.
In the opening 20 minutes, Illinois had nine turnovers and made just eight of 28 field goal attempts, including 3 of 11 on 3-pointers as it disappointed a large, orange-clad throng of fans.
The Illini then missed eight of their first nine attempts to start the second half, but Richardson’s 3-pointer helped the Illini get within eight.
Then the Runnin’ Rebels took off. Carlos Lopez had a nice follow shot, Kendall Wallace sank a long 3-pointer and Moser drove for a basket after another Illini turnover as the Rebels ran out to a 15-point lead with 11:15 to go.
Richardson hit his fourth 3-pointer of the second half to get the Illini within 11 with 6:14 remaining. Illinois whittled it to eight with 4:24 to go on a basket by Meyers Leonard.
But Thomas had a dunk with 2:25 remaining to end a 7-minute field goal drought for UNLV and the Runnin’ Rebels regained control.
Illinois, which is 32-11 at the United Center, has lost three straight and five of six on the Chicago Bulls’ home floor.
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