After Justin Joyner made his second consecutive three pointer from the right corner early in the second half, he knew his team had what it takes to beat #22 UNLV.
“I haven’t seen us play this confident,” the senior guard said. “Ever. We knew we could win this regardless.”
Despite committing 25 turnovers and 25 fouls, the Gauchos pulled off their first win over a ranked opponent in 13 years, defeating the Rebels 68-62 in Las Vegas on Wednesday night for the team’s third consecutive victory. UCSB improves to 5-3 while UNLV drops to 9-2.
Junior guard Orlando Johnson pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with 12 points in the game. Junior forward James Nunnally led all scorers with 23 points, including six consecutive free throws attempts to put the game away at the end of the second half. The two remain the leading scoring duo in the country.
UNLV struggled with the Gauchos’ zone defense, taking 29 shots from behind the arc, hitting just six. The team also missed 14 free throws compared to the Gauchos two. To end the game, UCSB hit ten straight.
“We got [UNLV] on a good night,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “They’re the type of team that if everything gels right, they’re in the Sweet 16.”
UCSB has now beaten the Rebels three consecutive times. In the teams’ last meeting at the Thunderdome, UCSB hit a three pointer at a buzzer to win 63-60.
The Gauchos will play #11 San Diego State (10-0 overall) on the road on Saturday, Dec. 18. In their most recent game, the Aztecs narrowly defeated UCSB’s conference rival Cal Poly, 51-45.