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Behold, the latest in free throw distraction: UNLV unveils Khem Kong

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Khem Kong in action on Wednesday night (photo via @sports8)

When UNLV forward Mike Moser decided to transfer to Oregon this past offseason, it cost the Rebels more than one of their top rebounders and transition scorers.

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Khem Kong and Khem Birch (via @UNLVRebellion)

It also rendered the UNLV student section's primary means of distracting opposing free throw shooters suddenly obsolete.

What did The Rebellion concoct to replace waving a giant cardboard cutout of Moser behind the basket? Enter 'Khem Kong.'

A 20-foot-wide three-dimensional recreation of UNLV forward Khem Birch, Khem Kong made its debut during the Rebels' victory over visiting Utah State on Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. Four members of The Rebellion operated Khem Khong like a puppet, one controlling each of his arms and two moving his midsection.

The creator of Khem Kong is the same man who made the Mozilla cutout: Sean Clauretie, a former UNLV student who now works as an art director at The Palms. Since other student sections had begun to copy the idea of giant cardboard cutouts of players, Clauretie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he wanted to up the ante, first with 3D fat heads and now with what has to be the biggest prop ever unveiled by any student section.

Surprisingly enough, Khem Kong wasn't all that effective as a distraction device when Utah State went to the foul line on Wednesday night. The Aggies sank 8 of 10 foul shots, just a tick above their season average as a team of 74.1 percent.

Far more effective, however, was UNLV's defense. Utah State had nine shots blocked and made only 30.8 percent of its field goal attempts and 2 of its 17 tries from behind the arc en route to a surprisingly lopsided 62-42 loss.

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