Published Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 | 3:27 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 | 6:11 p.m.
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Ryan Greene is joined by Austin Meek, who covers Kansas State for the Topeka Capital-Journal, to preview Saturday's matchup between No. 18 UNLV (7-0) and Kansas State (8-1). The contest tips at 4 p.m. at the Orleans Arena.
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Final, K-State wins 95-80
Kansas State came into Saturday's game with No. 18 UNLV shooting 33.5 percent for the season from 3-point range and just 62.6 percent from the free throw line.
Both of those averages will see a huge spike in the immediate future.
The Wildcats were a blistering 14-of-23 from 3-point land, including a 7-of-10 showing from junior guard Jacob Pullen, whose 28 points paced K-State to a 95-80 victory over UNLV on Saturday at the Orleans Arena.
The victory improved KSU to 9-1 on the season, more than likely vaulting Frank Martin's club into the top 25 polls for the first time this year. UNLV is now 7-1, and is at risk of falling out of the polls come Monday morning.
The Cats were also 25-of-32 from the free throw line, and Pullen's showing was complemented by 18 points from senior guard Denis Clemente and 13 points from forward Curtis Kelly, who chose KSU over UNLV in the summer of 2008 when transferring from UConn. Forward Jamar Samuels added 14 off the bench for K-State.
Tre'Von Willis led four Rebels in double figures with 17 points. Oscar Bellfield scored 13, while Chace Stanback's 14 points put him in double figures for the first time as a Rebel. He came off the bench for the first time, as freshman Anthony Marshall scored 11 points in his first career start. Starting guard Derrick Jasper was held scoreless for the first time in his UNLV career.
The Rebels return to action on Tuesday night, when they'll travel to face Southern Utah before playing two games at the Thomas & Mack Center later this week — Thursday against Weber State and Saturday against South Carolina Upstate.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, video, photos, stats and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:49, second half, K-State leads 88-68
Jake Pullen is just having fun now.
The K-State junior guard is having a career day, and after hitting his seventh 3-pointer of the game, turned and smiled to the ref. He leads all scorers with 28 points as the Wildcats have officially taken UNLV completely out of the game, up 88-68 with four minutes to play.
K-State is shooting 69.6 percent from the floor in the second half, including a 7-of-11 showing from long range.
It's been an odd day across the board for UNLV. The Rebels are on the verge of allowing 100 points for the first time in the Lon Kruger era, and junior guard Derrick Jasper has been held scoreless.
The question now for most UNLV fans will be just how far do the Rebels fall in the rankings? Will they still be included at all?
11:38, second half, K-State leads 72-53
Not sure if the 'angriest fan base in America' can be too angry right now, as K-State is rolling over UNLV in every way possible.
The 3-point festival for Jake Pullen and Denis Clemente continues to go on for the Wildcats, while Curtis Kelly is cleaning up inside.
Pullen is 7-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-6 from deep, leading all scorers with 19 points, while Kelly now had 13, including a 7-of-7 showing at the line.
Kelly, who chose K-State over UNLV after transferring from UConn, scored an and-one bucket moments ago, and after doing so, stared at the Rebels' student section, yelled and thumped his chest.
The swagger is oozing from the visitors, and UNLV might need a miracle to pull this one out, down by 19 with 11:38 to play.
15:23, second half, K-State leads 54-45
The good sign for UNLV is that scoring hasn't been an issue early in the second half.
The bad sign is that K-State continues to simply not miss from the floor. Off of its lone miss so far this half, the Wildcats managed to run down their fourth offensive rebound of the night.
Junior guard Jacob Pullen is 3-of-3 from the floor in the second half, making him 6-of-9 overall with 16 points. Dominique Sutton added his first five points of the game.
UNLV's last strike was an and-one bucket from Darris Santee, whose accompanying free throw cut UNLV's deficit back into single digits.
Halftime, K-State leads 34-28
UNLV's trailed at the half in its last two games, but not like this.
Kansas State holds all of the momentum at halftime, up 42-34, as the Rebels haven't been able to take control through 20 minutes.
At the end of the first half, it looked as if the Rebels caught a break, when a turnover at midcourt led to a fast break opportunity. However, a pass to Darris Santee underneath escaped his hands. Jacob Pullen took it the other way for a layup at the buzzer, reminiscent of the 3-point play Santa Clara took with it into the halftime locker room last Saturday against UNLV.
K-State is playing with offensive efficiency that it really hasn't shown too often so far in its 8-1 start to the season.
Lets go inside the halftime numbers for a look ...
— K-State entered the game shooting 33.5 percent from 3-point range and 62.6 percent at the free throw line. So far? They're 7-of-12 and 11-of-13, respectively.
— Jamar Samuels came off the bench to score 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting and a 6-of-7 showing at the line in 15 minutes of run. Pullen has added nine for the Wildcats.
— This game has second half outburst potential for Tre'Von Willis. Sound familiar? He only played 10 first half minutes with two fouls to his credit. He didn't struggle, though. He's 2-of-2 from the floor — both from 3-point land — with six points.
— UNLV outrebounded KSU 16-15, which is a positive sign, but the boards the Rebels missed hurt them. One that comes to mind is a carom Samuels grabbed while on the ground. He fed Curtis Kelly for an easy bucket in exchange.
— Anthony Marshall leads UNLV with nine points after earning his first career start. He's only 2-of-8 from the floor, but 5-of-6 from the stripe.
— UNLV hasn't taken phenomenal care of the ball, and creating for one another on offense hasn't come easy. The Rebels have six assists and eight turnovers.
3:57, first half, K-State leads 30-28
Kansas State came out to Las Vegas shooting 62.6 percent as a team from the free throw line, but is 9-of-10 so far tonight, paced by four in a row from sophomore forward Jamar Samuels.
Samuels has nine of K-State's last 11 points, as the Rebels are keeping pace by slugging it out with the physical Wildcats.
UNLV hasn't hit a field goal in almost four minutes, but Anthony Marshall hit 3-of-4 from the line, followed by Matt Shaw draining a pair to keep the Rebels within two points at 30-28. Both teams are in the double-bonus the rest of the way.
7:15, first half, K-State leads 26-23
Kansas State can't seem to miss from deep, as Martavious Irving and Jamar Samuels hit back-to-back threes. Those shots have paced the Wildcats to a 26-23 edge on the Rebels with 7:15 to play in the first half.
Samuels had a brilliant stretch, capped by the deep ball. It started with a block from behind in the open floor of an Anthony Marshall layup attempt. As a team, K-State is 5-of-7 from long range so far.
Then again, don't forget, UNLV's made it a habit of being a second half team of late. The Rebels have trailed at the break in each of their last two outings.
11:24, first half, game tied 16-16
Kendall Wallace first came up big off the bench with a step-back 17-foot jumper, and a corner three off a feed from Anthony Marshall sent today's game into its second full break tied, 16-16.
Since missing their first four 3-pointers of the game, the Rebels have hit two of their last three in a game that has been hotly contested in the paint. K-State is trying to bang away down low, but can't get the foul calls they crave.
UNLV to this point has three blocks, and is outrebounding K-State 11-9 — an area which has been troublesome of late for Lon Kruger's team. They've answered the bell so far today.
15:51, first half, K-State leads 10-4
So far, K-State is dictating things, safe to say. The Rebels have tried to penetrate with a four-guard lineup early on, but the Wildcats are closing in on them and forcing UNLV into hoisting an abundance of 3-pointers.
The Rebels are 0-for-4 from deep so far, with Derrick Jasper missing two, while Jake Pullen and Denis Clemente have combined to go 3-of-4 from long range to start things off, and the Wildcats lead 10-4.
Lon Kruger scrapped the four-guard set just a few minutes in, and Darris Santee came in along with Chace Stanback in place of Anthony Marshall and Brice Massamba, who looked a bit uneasy early.
Pregame, Part Deux
Anthony Marshall gets the surprise start today in place of Chace Stanback. Kruger truly going is going speed vs. size.
Also, don't forget, Cory Joseph's official UNLV visit is currently ongoing. The No. 7 prospect in the 2010 class according to Rivals.com is in the stands, and one student section sign stands out so far. With a picture of the Strip in the background, it reads "Cory, want a key to the city? Sign with UNLV." Fans pay attention to recruiting, I guess ...
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Orleans Arena, where the doors have just opened and, so far, there's as much purple as there is scarlet in the stands. The atmosphere in here today should be wild.
I got a taste of what the K-State folks will bring about an hour ago. Meeting with some friends who made the trip out from Kansas over across the street at McMullen's to shoot the breeze, they pointed out that they come into the Orleans as the angriest fan base in America. Why? Well, they wouldn't really say, but I'm sure some of it comes from playing the disrespect card.
The fact that K-State isn't ranked right now, at 8-1, is a bit of a head-scratcher. But, then again, the same can be said for New Mexico.
But, like the undefeated Lobos, who play at No. 19 Texas A&M today in Houston, the Wildcats can potentially vault themselves onto the national radar with a victory today.
For UNLV, a win today means that Lon Kruger's 7-0 club has a good shot at making it all the way through non-conference play unscathed.
And this one, folks, is a complete toss-up.
A popular topic of discussion so far today among the media in the building has been the two-point line on the game. UNLV checks in as a late favorite, and it's up for debate. Either way, I honestly don't expect either team to lead in this game by more than five or six points at any juncture.
My three key points today
1) If Jake Pullen and Denis Clemente are both on offensively for K-State, UNLV is in some trouble. Now's when the Rebels prove how solid of a defensive team they are this season. But, if UNLV can get even just one of them off kilter a bit, it takes away a lot of stability from the Wildcats on the offensive end.
2) This could be a big opportunity for UNLV sophomore forward Chace Stanback to gain some more confidence here early in the season. His 6.1 ppg and 5.7 rpg averages are respectable, but he could truly be an x-factor for the Rebels today. He'll more than likely see 6-foot-7 sophomore Jamar Samuels or 6-foot-6 junior Dominique Sutton matched up on him. Stanback is only 1-of-14 from 3-point range this season. If there's a perfect time for him to break out and get on a roll, this is it.
3) An x-factor for K-State, in my mind, is junior forward Curtis Kelly. The guy is 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds of trouble inside. He's averaging roughly 12 points and 8 boards a game this season, so he's no sleeper, but UNLV might have it out for him a bit. There was much talk of his recruitment two summers ago when he transferred from UConn. It came down to UNLV and K-State, and I'm sure the Rebels haven't forgotten being spurned. However, it opened the door to take in Derrick Jasper from Kentucky. So, win-win, I guess. Still, keep an eye on No. 24 in purple.
Prediction and 'Pick to Click'
Prediction — I'm going UNLV 65-61. If you can get to a sportsbook in the next 30 min, the under 142 is pretty enticing. Just saying.
Pick to Click — Derrick Jasper. Not sure why. Just feels right today.
Talk to you shortly.