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Ute loss streak hits 5

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UNLV's Louis Amundson, left, and Jo'Van Adams surround Utah's Chris Grant during Saturday's game.

UNLV’s Louis Amundson, left, and Jo’Van Adams surround Utah’s Chris Grant during Saturday’s game.

Mark Diorio, Deseret Morning News

Utah has already proven it's an average basketball team at best, with Bryant Markson in the lineup. Without Markson the Utes are not very good at all, as they proved Saturday night at the Huntsman Center.

With Markson out on a one-game suspension, the Utes lost their fifth straight game for the first time in 22 years, falling to UNLV 71-59.

The loss was also the first home loss to UNLV since the 1981-82 season and the worst conference home defeat since a 14-point loss to BYU in the 1991-92 season.

Markson was sitting on the bench in street clothes due to trouble with University of Utah police over the misuse of a parking pass, and the Utes fell behind early. They trailed by as many as 18 before making a late burst to pull within seven with 1:43 left.

However, the Rebels' Ricky Morgan sank eight straight free throws in the final 93 seconds to quell a possible miracle finish by the Utes.

This time it wasn't defense that Ute coach Ray Giacoletti complained about. It was rebounding and effort. The Utes were outrebounded 37-28 and allowed the Rebels to grab 16 offensive boards.

"You just can't give up 16 offensive rebounds and expect to win and be successful," Giacoletti said. "We gave up 44 percent (shooting), which is the number we need. But then something else breaks. It's boxing out — go rebound the basketball."

Giacoletti also was upset with his team's overall effort, at least until the final five minutes when the Utes made a frantic rally. At one point in the second half, a clearly frustrated Giacoletti sent five new players into the game, including two who hadn't played yet in the contest.

"Just give an effort," he said. "I can still, at (age) 44, go out and give a good effort. It may not be many trips down the floor, but an effort."

The mass substitution four minutes into the second half, after UNLV extended its lead to 11, got the fans excited and kept the Utes in it for awhile.

However, a 9-1 run put the Rebels up 56-38 with 9:17 left and many of the 10,507 fans started streaming up the aisles.

Soon after, the Utes came alive and showed some spark, led by reserve Casey Iverson.

Iverson assisted on two baskets by Luke Nevill, then made a layup off a steal. When Ricky Johns followed with another fast-break layup, it was suddenly 58-46 with 4:13 left and UNLV coach Lon Kruger called timeout.

The Utes kept the heat on, and after a layup by Nevill, a 3-pointer by Johnnie Bryant and a layup by Shaun Green off a steal, the lead was down to seven at 60-53 with 1:43 left. The Rebels were perhaps having visions of last year's amazing come-from-behind win over San Diego State when they overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 30 seconds, only this time in reverse.

But the Utes had to foul and they kept fouling the wrong guy, Morgan, who had hardly played up until that point. Except for a layup and a free throw by Jo'Van Adams, Morgan scored all the rest of UNLV's points.

Luke Nevill led the Utes with 12 points and 10 rebounds, the second double-double of his career. Bryant also scored 12, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.

Jason Petrimolux led the Rebels with 21 points, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range, while Louis Amundson added 18 points and nine rebounds.

The Rebels were basically a two-man team behind those two in the first half when they took a 35-28 lead. Amundson scored inside, while Petrimolux scored outside and both finished the first half with 14 points, equaling Utah's output in the first half between them.

Iverson, the last man on the bench all season, may have earned more playing time after scoring five points with two assists, two steals and two rebounds in 17 minutes. He scored eight points against Air Force on Thursday night.

"Casey Iverson gave us some good energy," Giacoletti said.

The Utes have a week before their next game, Saturday afternoon at home against TCU. Giacoletti said Markson would be practicing again Monday.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com