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November 28, 2014

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Utah State’s top gun is tripped up

Hunt’s ‘D’ the key for UNLV

LOGAN, Utah--Anderson Hunt had missed out on the fun the first time UNLV played Utah State, so he made sure he didn’t get cheated the second time around.

Hunt completely shut down Utah State scoring ace Jay Goodman Monday, holding him to just two field goals while he was on him. At the other end, Hunt was one of six Rebels in double figures with 18 points as No. 1 ranked UNLV rolled to an easy 126-83 win over the Aggies.

Goodman finished with 14, but five of those came from the free-throw line and the other five points came against Travis Bice, who spelled Hunt late in the first half and again in the second half long after the issue had been decided.

“After what he did to us the first time, I wasn’t going to let him get going tonight,” Hunt said of Goodman, who is averaging 18 points a game for Utah State. “I tried to stay with him, and I don’t think he did too much.”

But Hunt, who earlier in the day was named the Big West Conference’s co-Player of the Week, wasn’t the only Rebel to play good defense Monday. As is usually the case, the entire starting five contributed to Utah State’s offensive woes.

With a hostile Spectrum crowd of 9,797 calling for blood, UNLV sprinted out to an insurmountable 16-0 lead after 4:37. The Aggies were rushing shots, turning the ball over and being forced to foul at the other end as UNLV’s transition game exacted a punishing toll.

“That was important,” UNLV’s Greg Anthony said. “We didn’t want them to get started like the last time. It was a good way to take their crowd out of the game.”

Anthony, who continues to sparkle at the point for the 16-0 Rebels (9-0 in the Big West), finished with 16 points and 11 assists while turning it over just once. He was pleased with another fine defensive team effort.

“Everyone’s out there doing their job,” he said. “It can be pretty impressive.”

It was Monday, Kendall Youngblood finally broke the ice for Utah State (7-11 overall, 4-5 in the Big West) when he connected from just inside the three-point line to make it 16-2 with 15:02 to go in the half. Pretty soon it as 23-6 and the closest the Aggies would get was 11 with 7:58 remaining before intermission.

“I think the kids came ready to play,” UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said. “They really started well. We told them that if they did their job, Utah Sate wouldn’t get a good shot and their crowd wouldn’t be a factor.”

Tarkanian had special praise for Hunt.

”Anderson was absolutely sensational,” he said. “I watched Goodman on tape and I had no idea he was that good a player. He really scared me.”

Essentially, Tarkanian employed the defense UC Santa Barbara’s Jerry Pimm devised last week for Hunt. But unlike UCSB, which failed to stick to the game plan, UNLV had Hunt stay with Goodman all the way.

By keeping Goodman in check, it prevented the rest of the Aggies from getting easy shots that would result from a help situation.

“When you have a good player like that, you just say in front of him and not let him get past you,” Hun said of Goodman. “That’s what I did. I stayed in front of him all night.”

Despite the fine game, Hunt was a little disssapointed with his shooting. He was 8 of 20 from the field but he was not forcing his shots. Monday, he simply ran into some tough luck where the ball wouldn’t drop.

“If I make my shots, I could have had 3 tonight,” he said. “But the guys keep telling me to shoot, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

And that’s fine with Utah State coach Kohn Smith because he doesn’t have to deal with Hunt anymore this season unless UNLV and Utah State meet in the conference tournament in March.

“He did a really good job,” Smith said of Hunt. “When he’s knocking down his jumper, they’re really tough.”

Smith agreed that Hunt’s defense on Goodman was a key to Utah State’s offensive impotence. The Aggies shot just 37 percent from the floor Monday.

“He made Jay rush his shots,” Smith said. “Jay’s going to have to learn to play against those kinds of people. But their entire defense was excellent.

“Jeez, they’re awfully hard for us to play. We just can’t match their talent.”

Youngblood, despite a team high of 28 points, couldn’t enjoy it. All he could do was pay homage to Hunt and the Rebels.

“We usually play Vegas tough here,” he said. “But we just didn’t execute. We didn’t screen at all and when we don’t screen, we have no offense.

“It’s disappointing because a lot of fans came out tonight to see a good ballgame and we disappointed them.”

Rebels Notes

The 126 points scored Monday night, was a season high for UNLV, eclipsing the previous best of 124, also set against Utah State on Jan. 9. …Elmore Spencer may have played his best game as a Rebel, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots. “He did a nice job rebounding and throwing the outlet pass,” Tarkanian said of Spencer. …Larry Johnson led UNLV with 24 points and 12 rebounds. … Freshman H Waldman dressed, but did not play after spraining his hand Saturday against Louisville. Waldman could have played if necessary according to trainer Jerry Koloskie. …Several USU fans sported T-shirts commemorating last year’s water bomb incident. The shirts ported the design of the water bomb on the back with a picture of Tarkanian on the front. There were no incidents Monday, although the game was momentarily delayed as a wayward remote control blimp was reeled in.

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