OKLAHOMA CITY -- Quick halftime thoughts from UNLV 36, Northern Iowa 35.
• Neither team can maintain any momentum here. But Vegas has had the strategic upper hand: It is running the pick-and-roll repeatedly, and Northern Iowa has struggled to guard it. They tried fighting through screens and that didn't work. They tried switching screens and that didn't work. When 7-footer Jordan Eglseder couldn't guard the play, they tried 6-foot-6 backup Lucas O'Rear. Finally, they played the last several minutes of the half with brothers Adam and Jordan Koch both in the game and guarding the Rebels' bigs. They had better success, but Vegas was still able to get good shots and put UNI's defense in scramble mode over and over again.
• Vegas also used full-court pressure and half-court traps to speed the Panthers out of their comfort zone at several points in the half. Scoring 70 points is usually the demarcation between victory and defeat for UNLV, and it is on pace for 72. UNI hasn't given up 70 points in 20 games. The Panthers' nine turnovers also can be directly attributed to UNLV pressure.
• If you're Northern Iowa, you have to be pleased with the fact that you're right in the game despite having No. 3 scorer Kwadzo Ahelegbe only play eight minutes because of two fouls. They'll need the Missouri Valley Conference tournament's Most Outstanding Player to stay on the floor longer and be productive in the second half. He had three points and three assists in the first half.