Utah's Dallin Bachynski, left, and UNLV's Cody Doolin struggle over for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)
Ronda Churchill
December 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) Thanks to the Utah football team, the Utes basketball team had plenty of support in their game at UNLV on Saturday night.

After a sluggish first half, No. 14 Utah pulled away for a 59-46 victory over the Rebels at the MGM Grand Showcase.

Earlier in the day, the Utah football team beat Colorado State at the Las Vegas Bowl across town. Thousands of Utes fans, including the cheerleaders, band, and mascot made the trip as well to the MGM Grand Arena.

''It didn't feel like a road game,'' Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ''It was powerful for our players to have that crowd support in another arena.''

Delon Wright scored 17 points, Brandon Taylor had 16 for the Utes. Utah (8-2) had 12 steals - including six by Taylor and four by Wright - to cap a rough stretch by winning for the third time in four games.

Rashad Vaughn had 16 points and seven rebounds to lead UNLV (7-3), and Christian Wood added eight points and 13 rebounds.

The Utes led 24-23 at halftime before UNLV scored the first two points of the second half to take the lead. However, Utah followed with an 8-0 run to regain the lead and didn't trail again.

''I thought it was an ugly first half for us and we managed to take a one-point lead into the locker room. I was optimistic,'' Krystkowiak said. ''We started to make our shots in the second half. We were far more patient in the second half. It was a solid overall game for us.''

The Utes increased the lead to 13 and the Rebels did not get closer than nine over the final 6 minutes.

Neither team had more than a six-point lead in the first half with five lead changes.

''Our number one key was to do a great job on the defensive boards, and we were able to do it,'' Rice said. ''But it is very frustrating to meet that goal and not be very efficient on the offensive end. We just didn't get enough of stops and make enough solid plays in the second half.''

TIP-INS

Utah: The Utes shot 40 percent from the field (21 for 53), including 5 for 15 on 3-pointers. Taylor led the way, shooting 7 for 12 (58 percent), while Wright was 5 for 16 (31 percent). ... Chris Reyes led the Utes with 10 rebounds. .... The last time the teams met, the Utes played their final Mountain West Conference regular-season game and lost to UNLV at home. The Utes had lost eight of their previous nine games against the Rebels in Las Vegas.

UNLV: The Rebels shot 33 percent, including 2 for 11 on 3s. Wood's 4-for-10 effort (40 percent) was the best percentage, and Vaughn shot 6 for 16 (38 percent). ... UNLV finished with a 41-37 edge in rebounds. ... So far, UNLV has defeated all non-BCS schools on its schedule, but lost to all BCS schools - all being Pac-12 - including Stanford, Arizona State, and Utah. ... The Rebels were playing on the Las Vegas Strip for the first time. They play their home games down the street at the Thomas & Mack Center.

COURTSIDE

Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar was courtside. Abdul Jabbar held a press conference before the game and a halftime speech on the court about surviving cancer with other cancer survivors standing behind him.

UP NEXT

Utah: Hosts South Dakota State on Tuesday.

UNLV: Hosts Arizona on Tuesday.

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