DSU struggled in the early going offensively as the Rebels forced the Storm into nine early turnovers, while holding Dixie to just four points over the game's first seven minutes, as UNLV jumped out to a quick 13-4 lead. The Rebels pushed that lead to as many as 13 points at 19-6, thanks in part to 10 points to junior guard Bryce DeJean-Jones.
However DeJean-Jones would leave the game with an apparent leg injury at the 10:30 mark of the opening frame, which seemed to spark the Dixie State offense, as the Storm went on a 10-0 run, including seven-straight points from senior Groskreutz, to cut the deficit to 19-16.
Dixie State kept the pressure on UNLV, outscoring the Rebels 23-8 over a span of eight minutes, and came all the way back to take a 29-27 lead on a DeQuan Thompson (Las Vegas, NV/Lake Mead Christian Academy) jumper with 3:11 until intermission. The two teams then traded baskets the rest of the frame, which ended with UNLV taking with a 38-37 lead into the locker room.
Both teams seesawed back and forth for most of the second half, but the Red Storm started to get a little separation thanks to a 12-6 spurt, capped by a Curtis Papenfuss (Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas) 3-pointer, which gave DSU its biggest lead at 69-64 with 6:16 left to play. UNLV had several chances late as the Rebels forced two Dixie turnovers within the span of 15 seconds with a little over one minute to play, but UNLV could not capitalize.
Clinging to the 71-70 lead in the final moments, DSU had a chance to ice the game with the shot clock winding down, but again the Rebel defense stiffened and forced a Red Storm turnover with just 10 seconds left. On the miscue, Jelan Kendrick drove the length of the court, but missed a jumper that caromed out of bounds with 0.7 left on the clock. UNLV threw the ball into Deville Smith, but senior Kimball Payne (Alpine, UT/Lone Peak) swatted Smith's desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer to clinch the upset win.
Groskreutz finished 8-of-11 from the floor, including a perfect 3-of-3 from the perimeter, while junior guard Thompson chipped in 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting, and sophomore guard Mason Sawyer (West Jordan, UT/West Jordan) tallied 13 in his Dixie debut. In addition to his big block to end the game, Payne tallied a game-high nine assists.
"I thought the guys played really hard," DSU Head Coach Jon Judkins said. "We won the game tonight because of how hard we played. I could not be prouder of them."
After struggling from the field to start the game (4-of-11), Dixie State shot nearly 50 percent the rest of the way to finish at a 45.8 clip (27-of-59), including 8-of-19 from the perimeter. DSU also survived 21 turnovers, though the Storm defense was just as solid as it forced 20 Rebel miscues.
Three Rebel players scored in double figures, including DeJean-Jones' 10 points before the injury, while Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch each chipped in 10 points. UNLV shot just 34.8 percent from the floor (23-of-66), 8-of-28 (.286) from the perimeter, and was just 16-of-30 from the line (.533).
Dixie State officially opens the 2013-14 regular season at home in the Burns Arena against Colorado Mesa next Friday night, November 8, at 7:30 p.m.