Feb 24, 2013 - By Rob Black, The Associated PressLARAMIE -- Even with Anthony Bennett ailing, UNLV was able to chalk up a much-needed, and easy, road win.
The Runnin' Rebels, losers of four straight Mountain West road games since a big victory at San Diego State on Jan. 16, used their depth to counter the absence of Bennett, a potential NBA lottery pick who played only four minutes. The 6-foot-8 freshman woke up with a stiff left non-shooting shoulder.
His teammates picked up the slack. Khem Birch scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to lead a balanced attack for UNLV which rolled to a 65-42 win over Wyoming on Saturday night.
Bryce Dejean-Jones and Mike Moser added 11 apiece and Katin Reinhardt chipped in with 10 for UNLV (21-7, 8-5 MWC), which never trailed.
Derek Cooke Jr. scored a career-high 15 points and had nine rebounds to lead Wyoming (18-9, 4-9).
UNLV coach Dave Rice consulted trainer Dave Tomcheck before deciding to start Bennett, but he pulled him at the 15:55 mark after the 19-year-old star missed two shots and picked up a turnover on a blocking foul.
"He said it was bothering him very much," Rice said of the shoulder. "We made the decision not to play him the rest of the first half, thought we'd be able to loosen him up at halftime and he was just not able to go.
"The week off hopefully will give him a chance to rehabilitate and get it ready because we have another big game at Nevada on Saturday."
Reinhardt drilled a pair of 3-pointers and Moser had five points in the first eight-plus minutes as UNLV raced to a 19-7 lead.
The margin reached 28-10 after Savon Goodman hit a lay-up and a free throw at the 4:13 mark of the first half. By intermission, the Rebels were up 32-12 and the lead didn't shrink below 17 after that
. The largest margin was 64-37 after a lay-up by Dejean-Jones with just over 2 minutes remaining.
UNLV, which has won four of its last five outings, took only nine shots from beyond the arc, making three, but dominated inside, outscoring Wyoming 36-18 in the paint.
"We wanted to play inside out," Rice said. "We were able to throw the ball into the post and just play through our posts, and dribble penetration was there and we shared the ball extremely well."
Birch appreciated the rare conference road win.
"It feels great," he said. "We're going home now. I think even though we don't play soon, I think the momentum is going to carry on."
Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt was disappointed in his team's performance, particularly on defense, as UNLV shot 50 percent, grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and finished with a 47-25 advantage on the boards.
"There were way too many open looks for them and too many offensive rebounds, where it just seemed like their effort out-did our effort," he said. "That's what was sort of a dagger in my back personally."
The Cowboys were without Leonard Washington for the second straight game because of an ankle injury. Washington leads the team in rebounds, steals and blocks and is Wyoming's second-leading scorer.
"We know we caught a break," Rice said of Washington's absence. "In our mind, he's a first-team all-conference player. They certainly missed him. He's a huge part of what they do."
Cowboys guard Riley Grabau, who had four assists, said the team should have been able to overcome Washington's absence.
"Leonard's a great player. He's physical. He's the key to our team," Grabau said. "But when he goes down I think others can step up. We just didn't have a night like that."
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