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Rebels find some flow in the second half, cruise past UTPA, 73-48

Bench to the Rescue

DeShawn Mitchell scored 14 of UNLV's 37 bench points as the Rebels beat Texas-Pan American 73-48 on Tuesday night.

UNLV vs. Texas-Pan American

The Rebels' bench cheers on as UNLV pulls away from Texas-Pan American Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

Final, UNLV wins 73-48

This time, UNLV was pretty for long enough to pull away in the second half, doing so in a 73-48 victory over Texas-Pan American Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Rebels were led by 14 points from DeShawn Mitchell and 12 from Rene Rougeau. Rougeau helped keep UNLV afloat during an offensively challenged first half, while Mitchell added some flair to his point after the half, as the Rebels found some flow they've been searching for early on in the season.

UNLV carried a 27-24 lead into the break, but opened things up not long after the second half started, thanks to five quick points from freshman point guard Oscar Bellfield. Wink Adams scored just five points for the Rebels, who were able to give him some rest for much of the second half.

The Rebels finished the night 25-of-64 from the floor, while defensively held a third straight opponent to under 40 percent shooting. The Broncs were just 20-of-54.

Lon Kruger's ballclub is back in action Thursday night, as Northern Arizona comes to town for a 7 p.m. tip.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels for full postgame coverage, including stories, The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, photos and video.

7:14, second half, UNLV leads 56-39

The Rebels' experimentation with DeShawn Mitchell and Beas Hamga paid major dividends, as they're now up 56-39 with just over seven minutes to play thanks in large part to the energy those two provided.

Mitchell hit an and-one up-and-under layup to go with another two in transition to give him eight points on the night. Hamga scored his first UNLV point on a free throw, and then his first field goal on a banked-in turnaround hookshot.

Lon Kruger's now putting some starters - all of them but Wink Adams - back in for a stretch. Probably a good move, considering a lot of them rested for much of this second half. Adams might be getting the extended stay on the bench given his recent back and calf injuries, neither of which are major. But during a stretch like this, he can use the rest when possible.

11:55, second half, UNLV leads 46-30

Wink Adams and Tre'Von Willis added three-balls to give UNLV some more cushion over the pesky Broncs, but the Rebels may have just broken the back on a Kendall Wallace-to-DeShawn Mitchell lob play.

Mitchell was a bit eager to saunter back down the floor, but Mo Rutledge shoved him quickly and reminded him to go defend on the inbounds pass. That's some solid veteran leadership, as the Rebels are now without question playing a looser brand of ball.

Now's the time where we may see what some of the younger guys can do, such as Beas Hamga, who just checked back into the game. He missed a shot right off the bat, and then was called for a goaltend on defense which was borderline.

15:24, second half, UNLV leads 36-28

One UNLV guard who had a rough go offensively in the first half broke the cold snap, and behind those five early points from Oscar Bellfield out of the half, UNLV has its first breathing room of the night on the scoreboard.

Bellfield's three came after a mid-range jumper and a pair of Rene Rougeau free throws. Rougeau added a baseline jumper to give himself 12 points on the night.

Now it will be interesting to see if that extra air 1) helps UNLV loosen up on offense and 2) gets UTPA on its heels.

Haltime, UNLV leads 27-24

UNLV had two shots at a final score before the half, but a Joe Darger three-ball rimmed out and UNLV holds just a three-point edge at the break.

The first half, much like UNLV's first four halves of basketball this season at the Mack, has been kinda ugly. UNLV is just 10-of-29 from the floor and 2-of-14 from deep. Texas-Pan Am is 10-of-26 from the floor and has gained confidence on the offensive end as the game's gone on. Here are some numbers of note from the first 20 minutes ...

-UNLV's left some points at the charity stripe, as they are 5-of-10 at the line. Rene Rougeau is 2-of-6.

-Texas-Pan Am's driving force has been Nick Weiermiller, who has eight points on 2-of-2 shooting. He has no assists, but just one turnover.

-Kendall Wallace played eight minutes in the first half and had five points, including a three from the corner late in the half. Wink Adams has played 14 minutes and has just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

-The Broncs are outrebounding UNLV 23-15.

Really, UNLV needs just a good, five-minute, clean stretch of play to rid themselves of this inconsistent stuff that's plagued them so far. Defensively, there's not much to complain about if you're a Rebels fan. Offensively, at some point, shots have to fall, right? I mean, law of averages, or something like that.

2:45, first half, UTPA leads 22-21

Rene Rougeau leads UNLV so far with eight points, but no one has been what you'd call consistent. He's just 2-of-6 from the free throw line so far, and the Rebels again can't find offensive flow.

They entered tonight 13-of-51 in two games from three-point range - one of which was an exhibition - and so far are 1-for-11. A lot of them have been deeper looks than Lon Kruger might want.

UTPA's Nick Weier Miller has eight points and just cashed his second three-pointer of the game, and he's been the steadying force so far for the Broncs. He, along with guard Ben Smith, are starting to gain confidence against UNLV's defense, much like San Diego did around this point in the game on Saturday.

7:53, first half, UNLV leads 12-11

The Rebels got their first points of the night from Wink Adams on a free-throw line jumper just before the third media timeout, reclaiming a 12-11 lead.

Again, things aren't continuing to get any prettier, but one observation so far has to do with Oscar Bellfield. With the frosh point guard in the game, things appear to be running smoother than when he's off the floor.

So far, UNLV has been outrebounded 16-8.

As for the Turn Back The Clock theme, I'm a big fan of the music tonight in the Mack. Duran Duran peppered the crowd during the last break.

11:55, first half, UNLV leads 8-5

Between the two media timeouts, the Rebels got free throws from Kendall Wallace (2) and Rene Rougeau (1), and that was it as far as offense goes.

The positive right now for UNLV is that the defense has carried over from Saturday, having just forced a 24-second clock violation just before the break. UTPA is just 2-of-9 from the floor so far, while UNLV is an equally-unimpressive 2-of-11.

If UNLV can get some shots to fall, this one could get out of hand quickly. Not only are UTPA's shots not going down, but the Broncs are looking hesitant with the ball.

By the way Tark just sat down three rows up off of midcourt. Good stuff.

15:00, first half, game tied 5-5

It's Turn Back The Clock Night at the Mack, and while UNLV went away from the notion of wearing throwback uniforms, they're playing some old school ball here in the early going against Texas-Pan Am.

Shots again are not falling, but the Rebels are making more of a point to attack the basket here early on. Joe Darger stepped out and cashed a three just before the break to tie things up after Pan Am had scrapped its way to a 5-2 lead. So far, the Broncs have eight rebounds five minutes into the game. UNLV has five. The fact that there are a combined 13 boards so far in just five minutes of play tell you all you need to know about the shooting so far.

Lon Kruger hasn't hesitated to go to the bench early, as Kendall Wallace checked in less than four minutes into the game, and Beas Hamga made his UNLV regular season debut out of the media timeout.

By the way, the cheerleaders are in throwback mode, rocking the Flashdance look. A nice touch for sure.

Pregame

Welcome to the second leg of what the UNLV men's basketball team can consider, um, to be P.C., 'heck week'.

Five games in 11 days, and tonight is, lets be honest, the Rebels' first real opportunity of the regular season for a lopsided victory. And while those types of games can get a bit boring to watch later on, UNLV sure could use it.

The Rebels are coming off of a less-than-pretty 65-60 victory in Saturday's opener over San Diego. Defense really hasn't been the problem for the Rebels. In last Tuesday's 18-point exhibition victory over Washburn, they held the Ichabods to a 37.3 percent showing from the floor. The Toreros only shot 37.7 percent.

Where UNLV's struggled is to find a good flow on the offensive end. Against Washburn, they had a tough time getting clean looks against constant man-to-man pressure. San Diego threw a zone at the Rebels which they didn't figure out how to penetrate. In turn, the Rebels have thrown up 51 3-point attempts in two outings. Only 13 have gone through.

Tonight, against an undersized and probably overmatched foe, the Rebels need to take advantage of an opportunity to find that ever-elusive flow.

As far as X's and O's go, not much to talk about going into this one. UNLV should win and do so in big fashion. So on to the three big predictions ...

1) Scott Hoffman will have a chance to cash a couple of threes off the bench late in this one. His shot's looked nice in practices so far, and there's just a hunch that he'll pop a couple off should he get into the action late.

2) Darris Santee will grab double-digit boards. UTPA not only doesn't have the height to match up with him, but after watching him take boards away from two Toreros at a time on Saturday, they might not have the strength, either. As far as big guys go, this could also be a good opportunity for Beas Hamga to get into the mix and build some confidence.

3) UNLV 88, UTPA 57.

Talk to you after tip-time.

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  1. Pick to Click: Joe Darger

  2. I went with Rene tonight. Can't believe I forgot to include it in the pregame blog. My bad, vaughn. I'll remember Thursday night.

    Darger's passed up a couple of three opps tonight after his early misses.

  3. Is the offensive problem just plain bad shooting or do they look out of sync? If it's bad shooting, that's one thing. If they are out of sync on the offensive side of the ball, how much of that is due to Coach Kruger experimenting with combinations? I'm not looking for excuses as much as real reasons for the offensive frustration. Regardless, Kruger will keep them working at the defensive end.

  4. Ryan: I've noticed that the iTunes is behind on the Rebel Room. Is that coming from their end, or should we not rely on iTunes? Thanks for the great work!

  5. Hey Vaughn. We just figured out the issue and it should no longer be behind after tonight. We'll keep the episodes coming. Thanks for the words.

  6. Juan,

    Willis looked pretty sharp defensively, hit a couple of outside shots. His game's coming along.

    Santee continues to impress me as far as the big guys go. Beas has a ways to go, but you can see the potential. I still think Santee will be the pleasant surprise of this crop of newcomers.

  7. His name is DeeShow. You will learn it! He will teach you!

  8. Love the video and the pics Ryan.