RENO -- Marcus Banks likes Lawlor Events Center. The first time he played here he led Cimarron Memorial to the 4A state championship. Wednesday night was his second appearance and he dominated just as easily, only this time it came against the University of Nevada.
Banks scored 35 points, one shy of his career high, and dropped in the game winning basket with less than a second remaining as the Runnin' Rebels stayed undefeated with an 82-80 win over the Wolf Pack before 7,888 fans.
"He's as good a guard that's played here (in this arena)," said Nevada coach Trent Johnson of Banks, whose scored 36 in a game against San Diego State last season. "He's going to have a chance to play after college."
For now, though, he'll simply have to play with college players. And he had plenty of fun against the Wolf Pack perimeter defense, which was simply awful in the first half. That's when Banks scored 24 of his points on 6-of-7 from behind the arc, all the while it seemed as if the Nevada guards enjoyed watching the shooting clinic.
UNLV took a 44-38 lead into halftime but its 14 turnovers shouldn't have allowed it to. The Wolf Pack was equally as giving as they turned it over 13 times and with a 57 percentage from the free throw line (8-of-14), the lead made sense.
Once the second half began, Banks disappeared for awhile and Nevada started the half with a 10-2 run and took a 48-46 lead after Garry Hill Thomas' baseline dunk. It was the Wolf Pack's first lead since they were up 16-13 early in the first half. They weren't able to hold on to it as the lead changed seven times in the second half, which also matched the number of ties.
Kevinn Pinkney hit a jumper as the shot clock expired with 7:03 left in the game that put Nevada up 71-64, its largest lead of the game. Then followed by several rushed offensive possessions, it didn't have it for long as UNLV (4-0) went on a 9-2 burst and eventually tied it at 73.
"What hurt us (was) we got caught up in the emotion of the game," Johnson said. "We're a experienced basketball team and we're playing like a young team in certain situations. We're not as good as defensive team as we'd like to be right now."
Banks scored five of his team's final seven points, while Nevada, with four players in double figures, didn't have a go-to guy to possess the ball or shoot the ball down the stretch. Junior Deane Browne, of all players, hit a clutch 15-footer with 1:05 remaining to give Nevada its final lead, 80-78. UNLV's Dalron Johnson tied it at 80 after Banks' offensive rebound. The Wolf Pack never looked fluid on their final possession but the Rebels did as Banks took it right at Nevada and handed it its third loss of the season.
"He made a good shot," said shooting guard/point guard Terrance Green. "I think we were just standing. I blame everyone."
Green scored 13 while Kirk Snyder had a team-high 16 points and a team-high six turnovers. Pinkney had 14 and Hill-Thomas 12 for the Wolf Pack, who fell to 1-3.
"It's real tough, man," Snyder said after the game, practically holding back tears. "I actually thought we were going to win. I just don't understand. I don't have any answers."