PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Mike Moser didn't get his homecoming.
Moser, UNLV's top-rebounder and second-best scorer who was a star at Portland's Grant High School, wasn't available to play because of a hip injury - but the Runnin' Rebels rallied without him to beat the Portland Pilots 68-60 on Tuesday night.
Moser had requested tickets for about 130 family members and friends who don't often get to see No. 21 UNLV. He was willing to play through the pain.
``We went back and forth arguing about it,' Moser said of the discussion with the team's trainers. ``They won the argument.'
Justin Hawkins came off the bench with 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in a second-half rally that put UNLV in front after trailing by as many as nine points. Anthony Bennett finished with 18 points and Anthony Marshall added 16 for the Rebels (6-1).
Ryan Nicholas had 15 points and 19 rebounds for the Pilots (3-5), who led 28-22 at halftime and extended the lead to nine early in the second half.
Hawkins' 3-pointer evened it a 42 and Quintrell Thomas' dunk gave the Rebels the lead with 13:45 left. But David Carr answered with a 3-pointer for Portland.
UNLV took charge with a 12-0 run that included a jumper, a free throw and consecutive 3-pointers from Hawkins for a 56-47 lead.
Portland pulled to 63-60 on Korey Thieleke's jumper with 3:58 left but it was as close as the Pilots would come.
Moser aggravated his hip injury in the Rebels' 77-63 victory over Hawaii on Saturday. He said he will have an MRI on it on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
``I don't think it's something too serious,' the junior forward said. ``It's already feeling better.'
Moser is averaging 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds. Shortly before the game he went to Twitter to announce he couldn't play, adding he ``really wanted to show out in my city.' He watched from the bench on Tuesday night wearing jeans and a sweater.
Among those who came to cheer was his high school coach, who assured him ``we'll have bigger fish to fry down the road here,' Moser said.
The Rebels opened the season with a six-game homestand, with their lone loss coming against Oregon.
UNLV is on the road while the National Finals Rodeo is staged at the Thomas and Mack Center. After Portland, UNLV visits Cal before returning to Las Vegas for a game against La Verne at the Orleans Arena.
The Pilots were coming off a 72-60 loss at Washington State on Saturday, but they hadn't dropped a home game.
``Turnovers gave them too many opportunities,' Portland coach Eric Reveno said. ``They hit some threes during a stretch there, but I think we were able to keep them out of offensive rhythm for the most part.'
The Rebels were plagued by sloppy play at the start, shooting just 8 for 33 from the floor in the first half.
Thomas van der Mars hit a jumper that put the Pilots up 9-5 early. They extended the lead to 15-7 on Nicholas' jumper, capping an 11-2 run.
Marshall left the game briefly after tumbling beneath UNLV's basket early in the first half, but his dunk with just under six minutes left narrowed it to 20-16 for the Rebels. The Pilots wouldn't let UNLV any closer and Nicholas' 3-pointer made it 25-18 with 4:10 left in the first half. Portland went on to take its six-point lead at the break.
The Rebels closed to 28-25 on Marshall's layup early in the second, but David Carr had a 3-pointer on the other end for the Pilots.
Portland extended the lead to 37-28 on Oskars Reinfelds' layup, but UNLV answered with Hawkins' 3-pointer. The Pilots extended the margin again on Thieleke's jumper and free throw.
Marshall hit a 3-pointer that closed the Rebels to 40-37, then added a pair of free throws to cut the margin to a point with 4:47 left.
Portland hadn't hosted a ranked team since a 79-48 loss to then-No. 12 Kentucky in 2010. The Pilots have lost eight straight to ranked opponents, dating back to a 61-56 victory over then-No. 22 Minnesota in 2009.
The Rebels and the Pilots played a pair of back-to-back games in Portland back in 1967, with UNLV winning both.
The Associated Press News Service
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