Live game blog: UNLV comes alive late to pound Southern Utah

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Justin M. Bowen

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall goes up for up dunk Tuesday as the Rebels take on Southern Utah at the Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah. UNLV dominated the second half and came out with a 77-59 win.

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 | 7:51 p.m.

UNLV vs Southern Utah

Tre'Von Willis came off the bench to lead the Rebels with 16 points and four steals in their 77-59 win over Southern Utah Tuesday night.

UNLV-SUU Basketball

UNLV forward Chace Stanback looks to score against Jake Nielson Tuesday as the Rebels take on Southern Utah at the Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah. UNLV dominated the second half and came out with a 77-59 win.
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Kansas State vs #18 UNLV

The Wildcats' sharp shooting, along with the Rebels' sloppy play led to UNLV suffering its first loss of the season, 95-80, to Kansas State Saturday at the Orleans Arena.

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Final: UNLV 77, Southern Utah 59

Looking at the 77-59 score, you’d never know UNLV ever struggled in its Tuesday night game at Southern Utah.

The Rebels came on late at Centrum Arena to put away the Thunderbirds behind big games from Tre’Von Willis and Chace Stanback. But UNLV didn’t look so great through most of the first half.

At halftime, Southern Utah trailed only by one. The second half was when the Rebels shined.

They went on a 20-4 run when Willis recorded a three-pointer, steal and assist in about a five-second span. UNLV also started pressuring Southern Utah up and down the court.

The Thunderbirds were clearly flustered and never could quite adjust.

The Rebels won’t enjoy much time off, as they are back in action Thursday at home against Weber State.

Second half, 5:00 remaining, UNLV ahead by 18

It wasn’t their best effort of the year, but five minutes from now UNLV will improve to 8-1 on the season.

UNLV leads 70-52 as its game at Southern Utah winds down. The Rebels slogged through the game for the first 25 minutes, before a 20-4 run sprung them to a big lead.

The Rebels have continued to play solid since then with tighter defense and more disciplined shot selection.

Most recently, Oscar Bellfield hit a jumper from the top of the key. Overall, Tre’Von Willis and Chace Stanback have been the Rebels best offensive options and have about 50 percent of the Rebels points.

Second half, 12:00 remaining, UNLV leads 54-36

The look on Tre’Von Willis’ face said it all.

After Derrick Jasper flushed down a dunk off of a lob pass from him, Willis rushed down to Jasper and screamed. It was the sound of frustration being released.

After limping around for most of the game, UNLV has taken command with a 54-36 lead at Centrum Arena.

And it’s been all Willis. Right before his assist to Jasper, Willis hit a three-point shot and stole the ensuing inbounds pass.

He also added a fade away jumper shortly after. Willis now has 12 points. Steve Jones also got involved in the action in the latest run when he hit a jump shot from the free-throw line.

Finally, the Rebels are playing the way a strong team is supposed to against an over-matched squad.

Second half, 16:00 remaining, UNLV leads 36-32

The second half from Centrum Arena picked up right where the first half left off for the Rebels.

Still playing sloppy. Still choosing tough shots. Still failing to get any separation from the Thunderbirds.

Although UNLV leads 36-32, its performance thus far leaves much to be desired. Kendall Wallace made a three-point shot to start off the half. Going into the first media timeout, Chace Stanback was fouled on a layup.

When we come back, Stanback will be on the line to shoot two. He has been one of the only bright spots for the Rebels, as he has accounted for 10 points.

Halftime, UNLV leads by one

Not much has gone UNLV's way in the first half against Southern Utah, yet it still goes into the locker room with a 31-30 lead.

The Rebels are shooting only 34 percent from the floor and missed their first six three-point attempts. They also had a number of ill-timed fouls and turnovers that kept them from making any prolonged run against the Thunderbirds.

Stanback and Willis have been about the extent of the offense. Stanback made two three-point shots in the final two minutes of the first half to give the lead back to UNLV.

Defensively, Willis had two straight steals and both of his takeaways turned into points. UNLV needs to do a little better job with ball control in the second half, as it continually fired erroneous passes on the offensive end.

It should be telling to see who Kruger sends out to start the second half. Tre'Von Willis and Brice Massamba both started on the bench as Matt Shaw and Kendall Wallace got the starting nod.

It's hard to imagine Willis not being on the floor at the start of the second half. He's done too much to justify sitting on the bench.

First half, 8:00 remaining, UNLV leads 17-16

UNLV managed a measly 5-0 run to take control of the game from Southern Utah, but hasn't done much since as it leads 17-16.

Stanback made a jumper to cap the Rebels' mini-run. Southern Utah was able to score on a fastbreak after a failed alley-oop from Kendall Wallace to Stanback.

Southern Utah's defense seems to be pestering UNLV just enough to force them into low percentage shots. On the other side, the Thunderbirds have had no success getting the ball into the post, but have shot 40 percent from three-point range.

First half, 12:00 remaining, UNLV trails 13-12

Yeah, Southern Utah might still be in the lead in Cedar City with a 13-12 score, but UNLV has started to show why it might be tough for the Thunderbirds to maintain their lead.

Put simply: Southern Utah does not have anywhere near the athletes to keep up with UNLV. If a few shots start falling for the Rebels, this score could quickly be flipped.

UNLV's athletic advantage was best evidenced by a pretty Tre'Von Willis lob pass that Oscar Bellfield slammed home to tie the game at eight. Later, Anthony Marshall swiped the ball from a Southern Utah guard and flew down the court for an easy layup.

Six different players have scored the Rebels' six field goals. They could be in the lead right now, but Darris Sante clanked two free throws on his trip to the free-throw line after pulling down an offensive board.

First half, 16:00 remaining, Southern Utah leads 8-6

In no way has the start of this game been pretty for the Rebels.

UNLV trails 8-6 after missing four of its first six shots. The Rebels had just as much trouble on the defensive end, as they allowed open three-point looks from both Ryan Brimley and Matt Massey.

But the Rebels appeared to get back on track right before the first media timeout when Derrick Jasper hit a jumper from the free-throw line. Kendall Wallace scored UNLV's first point on a putback. Chace Stanback, who was back in the starting lineup, also has a bucket.

Pregame

CEDAR CITY, Utah — It's safe to say the second phase of UNLV's season starts tonight at the Centrum Arena.

The Rebels kick off an exhausting 10-day stretch that will see them play six games. Of course, it will end in Hawaii, where the weather promises to be a little more inviting than it is tonight in chilly Utah.

Not that the outside conditions will have any effect on tonight's game. What is important, though, is that the Rebels improve as much as they can over the next week and a half. With Mountain West play starting afterwards with tough tests at BYU and New Mexico, UNLV can not afford any slip-ups.

On paper, Southern Utah does not present a huge challenge. The Thunderbirds (3-7) have lost five straight and not many of those games have been close.

Much of the Thunderbirds' offense runs through senior Davis Baker. He has good size for a guard, 6-foot-5, and gives the Rebel backcourt a challenge on the defensive end.

A number of UNLV fans have already filtered into the arena, so Southern Utah shouldn't have a major home court advantage. The Rebels tip-off in less than ten minutes. As always, stay tuned for live updates. And feel free to share your prediction. I'll go UNLV 74, SUU 50. Hard to not see Kruger's squad bounce back from Saturday's tough loss to Kansas State.

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  1. O% from the three point line, 33.3% from the free throw line, and 30% from the field. I'm tired of seeing these state lines from the Rebels. Especially against SUU?

  2. OK, this is their 3rd, and argueably, their 4th bad game in a row. Before this stretch I thought the sky was the limit with this team but as far as how good the Rebels are this season, I'm back on the fence. AWEFUL!!!! AGAINST SOUTHERN UTAH!!!!

  3. This looks very familiar to alot of games last year and we all know how frustrating last year was! If we are a top 25 team we should win this game by 30.

  4. we cant shoot.... so they are going to play zone.. and looks like we are going to continue to be a 2nd half team

  5. Lots of generalities - hopefully they will go out and win the game even if it isn't so pretty!!!

  6. Rofl...and the sky STILL isn't falling ;-)

  7. No one said the sky was falling. I'm a die hard fan who was and still is disgusted in their performances the last several games including tonights. 18 freakin points, fffff.....big whoop. IT WAS SOUTHERN UTAH!!!!! Should've been at least 30 and looked good doing it. Not crappy most of the game with one good 5 to 10 minute stretch.

  8. Yeah I know. I guess I've just come to expect Kruger's adjustments to eventually work. With the exception of the K-State three-point freak show, we ALWAYS play so much better in the second half.

  9. Please learn how to spell, folks.

  10. Agreed FastCamron not a good performance. How do we only score 77 against a 3-7(now 3-8 team). I know a win is a win but if we had played K State tonight we probably would have lost 95-80 again. Not good. What happened to the Runnin' Rebels? Tired of fighting to hit 80.

  11. Wyoming had #8 Tennessee down 13 in their gym in the first half but Tennessee won by the same score in the end. I will take an 18 point road win any day. Basketball is a game of runs so you will ALWAYS have 2-5 minute spurts within a game. Its about who has more.

  12. Thank you, BringtheRain.

  13. Well, we all know that 'spelling' is much more important than the actual point itself that someone is trying to make. I see people make mistakes spelling when blogging all the time, but....I don't bury them in childlike fashion.

    So, here ya freakin go bringthesnot: A-W-F-U-L......A-R-G-U-A-B-L-Y. I apologize your majesty, I was irritated and in a hurry when I was typing. But I've learned my lesson.

  14. Camron... It's nothing personal. I just feel that as fans of a university's basketball team -- a supposed palace of higher learning -- us few frequent commenters should at least know how to spell five letter words.

    Or, to be more blunt -- we should all spell better than RebelRobert/Sufferin' Succotach, who is actually a pretty sharp writer.

  15. I think we are on pace with where we need to be right now. Like last year, we have enjoyed some early success, even while consistently playing down to our competition. However, I do not foresee this team suffering the same fate as last year. We have to many new people and leaders like Willis hate losing; he is such a competitor.

    Im glad we have a few easy teams to get our groove back before the Hawaii trip. This team is still developing, but the best is yet to come. Id rather them peak in February and March than November and December.

    Also, anybody see the Wyoming game? Just like ours. Tennessee held a 42-41 half time lead, goes on to win 77-58. They are #8 in the country, and playing at home.

  16. I was at this game. It wasn't as bad as you all make it out to be. After all, we were only 14 1/2 point favorites. SUU presented a good zone defense in the first half that we had to pick apart. They were tough in the paint and our big men had to adjust. ALSO, Lon essentially started the secondary. I mean, you don't usually see Matt Shaw and Kendall Wallace in the starting 5... thats why the first half shooting percentage was low and why SUU took a quick lead. We just needed a few minutes to warm up and adjust.

    We ended up using a full court press almost all of the second half and came up with a lot of big turnovers, including two alleoops (The SUU fans around me we're so surprised, like they've never seen one before :]).
    We lead by as much as 20 I believe, but when Lon put in Todd Hanni, Michael Martinez, and Tyler Norman, SUU scored a few more points.

    Our usual starting 5 took a break this game and only played some of their normal minutes... lets face it SUU wasn't and wont the toughest team we've played. Three games this week... I think we didn't have to play as hard as usual, eh?

    Maybe someone else who was there can answer a question for me... what were the players doing when they all bent over and slapped the floor before an inbound pass?

  17. @Clifton - That was an attempt for some old school slap the floor defense. Personally I like it but it would have been nice to see them do it with a little more conviction. After watching every game this year except Santa Clara I do believe and many will agree this team will go the way of the defense.

  18. The headline would be more impressive if it was a marquee team we pounded. Southern Utah??? Has anybody checked Lousivilles schedule/results? That win is looking even less impressive with who they're losing to now.

  19. Clifton - hey the point spread opened at 19 and ended up at 17.5 before game time... so we covered by 1/2 a point. Where did you see 14.5 at??? i would of put my life on the rebs at 14.5 on this game but at 19 i actually had SUU. just a lil too close for comfort though. Hopefully by conference play this rebels team can put together solid first and second halves. if we can do that it will be very very hard to beat this team. GO REBELS!!!!

  20. Incognito, I saw the line late last week so obviously it changed.

    And thanks Lvoop. It looked so bizarre when they did it. I've never seen any rebs besides Rene Rougeau last year do that... and even then he was doing it after he made a big play.