LAS VEGAS — Anthony Bennett had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 21 UNLV to a 73-59 victory over Northern Iowa 73-59 on Wednesday night in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
Bennett, who had three blocks, was 7 of 12 from the field, including hitting two 3-pointers, and all four free throws.
Khem Birch added 11 points and nine rebounds in his second game of eligibility for the Runnin' Rebels (10-1), who have won eight straight. They struggled at times in the second half after leading 43-22 at intermission.
Marc Sonnen had 15 points and Anthony Jones added 13 for Northern Iowa (6-5), which is 0-3 against Top 25 opponents this season. The Panthers were held to 33 percent shooting from the field.
UNLV returned to the Thomas & Mack Center after being away for 18 days due to the National Finals Rodeo. The Rebels went 4-0 during that span, winning three road games – two barely – and an easy home game from away from home at the Orleans Arena.
Anthony Marshall had nine points and three rebounds for the Rebels, who escaped two nights earlier with a 62-60 win at UTEP.
Jake Koch had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Panthers.
UNLV jumped to leads of 16-4 and 21-8 in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Bennett scored 14 points with eight rebounds in the first half, including nine points in the last 5:30. UNLV shot 49 percent in the first half, while Northern Iowa was at 30 percent. The Rebels converted 6 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half.
After the Rebels built their largest lead at 24 points early in the second half, the Panthers slowly chipped away, cutting the lead to 62-49 with 5:55 left, but got no closer.
The Rebels outscored the Panthers 28-16 in the paint and 24-15 off the bench.