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October 31, 2014

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Anthony helps sluggish Rebels get revved up

Utah State stays close for a half

The way things were transpiring in the first half for UNLV Wednesday night, it was evident that someone had to step forward and take charge if the Rebels were going to do the number on Utah State everyone expected them to.

Greg Antony decided to be that someone.

Anthony sparked a typical UNLV second half with three quick steals, 17 points and six assists as the Rebels outscored the Aggies 16-4 in the first 4:15 of the second half to turn a 59-54 halftime lead into a 75-58 advantage.

When Anthony departed with 5:43 to play, UNLV was comfortable ahead 102-75 and the Rebels coasted in, 124-93, in an incident-free Big West affair at the Thomas and Mack Center.

“I wasn’t looking to take charge,” Antony said. “Not really, I was just trying to take what they gave us.”

Obviously, Utah State was concerned about UNLV’s power inside game of Larry Johnson and George Ackles. Never mind the Aggies couldn’t slow down either UNLV senior, as Johnson had 31 points and 15 rebounds and Ackles 16 points and give boards.

But something had to give and Anthony exploited he Utah State defense. He came up with two steals as UNLV began to assert its now-famous-on-the-ball pressure against Kohn Smith’s team.

The Aggies, who handled UNLV’s pressure relatively well, had played the Rebels tougher in the first half than anyone else this season, eventually wilted. The Rebels came up with seven steals in the last four minutes of the second half and at that point, Utah State had become UNLV’s tenth victim.

“Greg was absolutely sensational,” UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said of Anthony who finished with a season-high 25 points along with seven assists. “ He turned the game around for us.”

UNLV played without Anderson Hunt, Anthony’ backcourt stayed out with tendinitis in his knees. Hunt’s absence may have had something to do with the Rebels being out of sync both ends of the floor in the first half.

“We definitely missed Anderson,” Anthony said. It took us a while to get into our rhythm offensively.”

Tarkanian agreed.

“I thought we missed Anthony in the first half,” he said. “We were getting beat on the dribble and that doesn’t happen to often for us. But I thought we came out much more intense in the second half and Greg really stepped up and led us.”

The Aggies, who fell to 2 in the big West (5-8 overall), were not going to be intimidated. They went toe-to-toe with the more talented Rebels and the smallest Aggie of all, 5’11” guard Jay Goodman, was a particular thorn in UNLV’s side.

Goodman, a sophomore who transferred from Iowa State, hit 20 points, 15 in the first half before foiling out with 6:54 to Jay. At that point, it was moot since UNLV led by 27. But in the first half, he caused all sorts of havoc.

Then Anthony shut him down. And Stacey Augmon did the same to Kendal Youngblood, who finished with 21 points, all of them coming in the first half against a variety of unsuccessful UNLV defenders.

With Utah State’s two big guns quieted, it was a mismatch. Johnson did whatever he wanted inside and it didn’t matter which 6-7 or 6-8 guy Smith trotted out there to stop him. Johnson kept going to work down low and spent a lot of time at the free-throw line, where he was an impressive 11 of 12.

For Augmon, it was a nice rebound from a subpar performance Monday night against San Jose State. In 31 minutes, he scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds, doled out seven assists and put Youngblood in jail while tossing way the key.

“For a while, I was scared,” Tarkanian said. “But sometimes that’s good for a team. Perhaps we needed to be involved in a close game. I thought our kids really responded in the second half.”

Smith agreed that Anthony’s take-charge attitude in the second half was the key.

“He seems to be the glue for their team,” he said of Anthony. “He pushed the ball up the court hand and he kicks it into another gear.”

Anthony, who played despite a bruised shoulder and back, just shrugged when told of the accolades.

“You take what the other team gives you,” he said. “Tonight was my night. They were concentrating on the big guys, so I was open.

Rebel’s Notes

With Hunt out, Travis Bice got the start and scored 12 points, all on three-pointers. It was Bice’s first career start in three years…Junior forward Melvin Love saw his first action as a Rebel, playing four minutes and getting five points and five rebounds. Love had some special preparation for Wednesday’s game as Bill Walton came by at the team’s shoot-around to work with Love and Elmore Spencer.

“He showed me some moves, but I didn’t get a chance to use any of them tonight,” 6’9” Love said. “But it did feel good to play in a game again.”

Chris Jeter came down with the flu Wednesday morning and did not dress. “ He was throwing up and complaining of diarrhea,” trainer Jerry Koloskie said of Jeter. “He showed me a couple of prescriptions the doctor gave him so I told Coach (Tarkanian) about it and he told Chris to stay home.” …. Medical update: Hunt will probably make the trip to Fresno State this weekend and expects to play. “I’m going to try it,” he said. “ I don’t want to go unless I’m a hundred percent.”

…Smith, who wore a sweater here last year and got punched by Moses Scurry as a result during the post-game brawl, wore a jacket and tie Wednesday. “My wife said I look better in a coat and tie and she’s the boss,” he said. ….UNLV is now 18-0 against Utah State in the season series.

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