Runnin’ Rebels too much for Baron’s ‘Runnin’ Griffs’

Griffs’ third loss of season is second against ranked opponent

CCLogobigWhen Jim Baron moved into the Koessler Center this summer, he didn’t want his name put on the window outside his office like the coach before him had. Baron instead opted for a large Canisius logo with the words “RUNNIN’ GRIFFS” underneath, to symbolize the up-tempo style he planned on bringing to one of the country’s bottom teams.

Eleven games into his tenure, Baron’s Griffs are doing plenty of runnin’ — and scoring and winning. But Saturday night at UNLV, the No. 21 Runnin’ Rebels showed Canisius why they own that name, using Vegas-sized amounts of talent and athleticism to win 89-74 and improve to 11-1.

Billy Baron scored a career-high 30 points and Harold Washington had 17 for the Griffs, who fell to 8-3 with the loss. UNLV had five players in double figures, led by 21 points from freshman sensation Anthony Bennett and 20 from Khem Birch, who added six blocks in just his third game this season.

Canisius hung with UNLV as long as it could, closing the gap to as few as three points at 57-54 with just under 13 minutes to go. But that push would prove to be the last in the Griffs’ arsenal, as UNLV responded with a 21-6 run over the next seven minutes that put the game out of reach.

UNLV shot 59.6 percent (34 of 57) on the night and outrebounded Canisius 33-25, but the largest statistical difference — and showing of how the teams matched up — was in blocked shots: UNLV blocked 13, Canisius blocked none.

Jordan Heath played 32 minutes off the bench in his return from an ankle injury that kept him out two games. Nine of his 11 points came from three-point range, where the 6-foot-10 center had a field day Saturday, attempting 10 three-pointers — more than any other teammate and as many as Washington and Isaac Sosa combined; both of whom shoot better than 43 percent from behind the arc.

The Griffs now have a short break for Christmas and return to the court Thursday at home against Alcorn State (2-11).

Notes:

–Two of Canisius’ three losses this season came against ranked teams.

–Three days after losing to Canisius by 10, Temple handed No. 3 Syracuse its first loss, 83-79. “And the reality is: I don’t know if we would have won today had we not lost on Wednesday (vs. Canisius), to be quite frank,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.

–Mike Moser missed his fourth consecutive game for UNLV with an elbow injury. He had 19 points in last year’s meeting, a dominating, 95-70 win for the Runnin’ Rebels.

–UNLV’s broadcast team enjoyed comparing Billy Baron to Jimmer Fredette.

–Look for this game on SportsCenter later. UNLV guys had a handful of monster dunks.

Follow on Twitter: @NickVeronica

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