UNLV BASKETBALL:

UNLV explodes in second half to beat Southern Utah, 77-59

Tre’von Willis scores 16 points off the bench for the Rebels

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Justin M. Bowen

UNLV guard Tre’Von Willis brings the ball up court on Dec. 15 against Southern Utah at the Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah. UNLV dominated the second half and came out with a 77-59 win.

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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CEDAR CITY, Utah — Tre'Von Willis can identify the turning point in UNLV's 77-59 victory over Southern Utah on Tuesday at Centrum Arena.

It came with about 14 minutes remaining in the second half when Willis picked off an inbounds pass and lofted the ball toward the basket. Derrick Jasper sprinted from the right corner and threw the lob down for an exclamation dunk over a Thunderbird defender.

Willis immediately ran toward Jasper to celebrate, while the rest of the Rebels cheered.

“The bench was just so pumped, and we were so pumped that we had to keep the run going,” Willis said. “Whenever you get a play like that and a boost like that, it’s definitely a positive for us.”

The play came in the middle of a 23-6 run at the beginning of the second half that helped the Rebels recover from a lackadaisical opening 20 minutes. UNLV trailed for much of the first half and went into the locker room with just a 31-30 lead.

But UNLV looked like a different team in the second half, largely because of Willis. The junior guard, who did not start for the first time this season, had 16 points, four assists and four steals.

“I wanted to come in and be aggressive and set the tempo,” Willis said. “I wanted to pick my teammates up and try to take it away.”

In addition to his offensive highlights, Willis was at the forefront of a ramped-up defensive effort in the second half.

The Rebels started using full-court pressure and it clearly annoyed the Thunderbirds. Southern Utah finished with 25 turnovers and UNLV scored 28 points off of them.

Sophomore forward Chace Stanback benefited the most from the Rebels transition offense and scored 15 points.

“I’m starting to get into a rhythm now,” Stanback said. “I’m shooting the ball before and after practice. Coach told me to work on it and I’ve been working on it. It’s starting to fall for me now.”

Stanback was perhaps the only positive for the Rebels in the first half. The Rebels trailed by four for a while, but Stanback made sure the deficit was never more than that.

He scored 10 points in the half and hit two 3-point shots right before halftime that gave the Rebels the lead.

It was the second straight game Stanback has scored the second-most points for the Rebels.

“Chace shot the ball well,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “He’s regained his confidence. That’s great. We need him to be able to work for us.”

Despite Stanback’s performance, UNLV went into halftime aggravated. Kruger and the players talked about taking better care of the ball, choosing better shots and bearing down on defense.

It all seemed to click from there. Southern Utah’s first second-half possession ended with a steal by Oscar Bellfield. Matt Shaw blocked a shot on the Thunderbirds’ next trip down the court.

Then, junior guard Kendall Wallace hit a 3-point shot to start the Rebels’ run. Southern Utah had no answer.

“We wore them down a little bit,” Kruger said. “More went our way the second half.”

Willis said he was proud of the team’s performance in the second half and happy to improve to 8-1. Still, he knows the Rebels have a long way to go.

“We’re just trying to keep it rolling and put 40 minutes together,” Willis said.

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  1. It's prudent to schedule Southern Utah in basketball. Home and home means close to home and thus less travel money. Also, it would have made sense to replace Sacramento State with the Thunderbirds in football for the same reason. That one needn't be home and home. SUU can travel to Sam Boyd for that one.

  2. Amen Lenny. This is very reminiscent of last year. Winning but not playing well. With teams like BYU, SDSU, New Mexico all playing well and tems that can surprise like Utah and TCU, this needs to get squared away. Put the ball in the basket Rebels!

  3. I see this game as a step in the right direction. A game with 1 good half is better than a game with no good halves (Santa Clara and ks st). And we still have 5 games to get it all figured out before conference play. Let's go rebs!!!

  4. The rebs won so we'll all take it but there is no way SUU should have been within 30 points in this one. Kruger needs to be concerned right now. If it takes the coaches to motivate the players and put fire in them then something is wrong with the player. Fire and passion should be there everytime you step on the hardwood, no exceptions!! Willis & Bellfield are the only ones that consistantly ball with heart and passion all the time. I will prop the rebs when they deserve props and knock them when they need it, that's the way I roll.

  5. The team needs to learn to shoot. They can't shoot 40% from the field all year against mediocre competition and expect to go where we all want them to go. Kruger needs to either get these guys to make the shots their taking or take better shots. Right now, only Chace seems to have a consistent jumper.

  6. Kruger coached teams fail to get up for every game. I'm not doubting his X & O ability so reb fans relax, just stating the obvious. We see them get up for games against L-Ville 2 years in a row and scrape by bad Zona and Santa Clara teams. We see then win but struggle with D-2 opponents and play lackluster 1st halves against teams that shouldn't be on the same floor with the rebs. I am not advocating the sky is falling, I still feel this is a good team, I just cannot understand why they struggle so much against bad teams and don't go all out for every game. I am amazed just like the next rebel fan.

    I was listening to John Caliapari doing a radio interview last week and this is the 1st time I've really heard whats going on inside this dudes dome. He was so candid and didn't beat around the bush with any answer or question. He said when he sat down in John Walls livingroom he told him if you cannot get up for every single game we play and go 110% every single play then you can go play for somebody else. He said he tells every single recruit the same thing, "If all you are going to do is play every other play then you are waisting my time and I don't want you, so let me know right now or I will walk right back out that door". How can you not be impressed with that? Is there any wonder why he wins everywhere he goes? I have no idea how Kruger does things or what he tells his players so I won't speculate but it's obvious his teams don't get up for every single game. Have been a reb fan since the mid 80's just perplexed with what I see at times that's all. GO REB'S.......

  7. I do not see the problem as a lack of intensity. I do not think the Rebels come without desire I just do not think they are overwhelmingly talented. Kruger is a laid back guy he can not be like Calipari. With the talent that Calipari recruits he looks pretty good no matter what the circumstance. You put John Wall, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, and Demarcus Cousins in a UNLV uniform and we would be undefeated. I agree that Kruger is a very good X and O coach. I think he is a class act as well. But his line up consists of players who could not play for coaches like Calipari, Howland, Self, etc. There is a reason they transfered because they could not get PT. Most of our players would not be able to play with much regularity on any top 10 team. When you do not have top of the line talent you can not expect to dominate teams like a top 10 team would. Having said that I do believe that Hawkins, Marshall and Lopez are Coach's best class yet. I think they can be very good players at UNLV. But I think it is time that we face it that the "slow starts" we get and the lack of point production we have is not from lack of effort or poor motivation. We just do not have an overly talented team. I love UNLV hoops and want desperately to see them return to national prominence but it is going to take better players to make that happen. I think we are starting to make in roads that way but only time will tell. (Hope I do not sound too much like Sufferin, I for one do not want to fire Kruger) Runnin' Rebels!

  8. I was as frustrated as anyone during that first half (well, maybe not the coaches), but...

    UNLV scored 46 points in the second half and even covered the spread on the road. That was one of the biggest games many of those SUU kids will ever play and they got up for it. I think sometimes we tend to forget there is another team involved in these games. It was great to see the Rebels answer in the second half.

    Weber State will be a real threat on Thursday night. It will be nice for the Rebels to get back to playing at the Mack.

    If you would have told me at the beginning of November we would be 8-1 with No. 23 UNLV scrolling across ESPN in mid-December, I would have taken that and walked away laughing. I remembering Kruger talking a lot in the preseason about this is still a new team and they will have some ups and downs. Fortunately, most of those have been in wins.

    I know my expectations shot through the roof early, but we need to remember this is still a new team. They just had some great wins early!

    A win on the road is a win on the road. And they did win this going away - which was nice for the ticker last night. We are proud of you Rebels.

    Play like you did in the second half and good things will happen. Looked like something clicked.

  9. (Agreed gumby). That was going to be my next point but I thought the post was getting too long so I didn't put it in. I think you're right if it isn't a lack of intensity then the only other answer available has to be the level of talent or a little of both.

    Anthony Marshall in the post game interview even admitted that they weren't playing with their all in the 1st half and they didn't expect SUU to come out and play them tough like they did, so make what you want out of it. I was like c'mon man don't admit that, fans don't want to hear that.

  10. gumby how can you say that we have a lack of point production or a lack of talent?

    tell me that

    tre wouldnt be starting at memphis right now?

    chase wouldnt be starting at ucla?

    derrick wouldnt be starting at KU? (possibility because john wall is a phenom, but he would start over miller)

    to say UNLV doesnt have the talent is just crazy!

    btw average team PPG is 79.9 unlv is #50 in the nation tied with xavier... however, 5 more PPG (85 PPG) would put us in the top 10 in scoring...

    i wouldnt exactly call that a lack of scoring.

  11. Chace would be starting at UCLA right now because they are 3-6 and a shadow of the UCLA final four team that Chace was on and did not play. I do not think that Tre would be starting at Memphis with Elliott Williams, Willie Kemp(who played over Tre when they were both freshman), Wesley Weatherspoon and Roburt Sallie. Jasper is a different case because of his injury. I did not say that the Rebels have no talent I said that they did not have top of the line talent. Lets face it we all want a top 10 program and we want our Runnin' Rebels. Only 2 of the top ten programs average under 80 ppg. (Purdue 79.3 and WVU 75.9) everyone else scores above 80. Top be an elite team you need to score. Only way to score consistently is to have superior athletic talent night in and night out. Guys who can make plays when the offense is stagnant. BTW it is 78.9 ppg for the Rebs. The shooting percentages from 3 point land is .268 and the field is .449 and the free throw line is .688. Hardly impressive offensive numbers.

  12. Gumby- you are right on. The talent is getting better, but still not that great. We have no big men that are even DI abilitywise. I think Willis would be starting at Memphis and Jasper would start at Kentucky. It is imperative that Kruger land either Joseph, Polee or Gordon (from UCLA).

    In all honesty, I see this club as 4th place- at best-in the MW this year.

  13. are we saving these predctions? this is seriously hilarious

  14. typo gumby.... 78.9 + 5.00 = 84.9 still would be top 10 poor % yes, but you didnt say that. you said scoring and we still score even with low % because of turn overs and hustle. now once they start shooting better then what will you ave to say? because they will

  15. I think the rebs work harder than any team out there. Kruger is doing a great job as well, he knows how to run his program, and given what we got, he's doing a marvelous job.

    Lets rock the Mack tomorrow people.

  16. I hope you are right Sportsguy. I would be happy to apologize to everyone if we average in the top 10 in scoring. Would love to see the percentages go up and win the MWC, roll into the NCAAs and make a good run. Nobody will be rooting harder than I will.

  17. this class of first-year players is ARGUABLY the best overall class since TARK:
    **Jasper, Stanback, Marshall, Hawkins.

    Next years class of FIRST-YEAR players has the potential to be just as good!:
    **Quintrell Thomas, Carlos Lopez, Cory Joseph/Dwayne Polee.

    QT and Los will both be FORCES down low and I cannot wait to see them. Our post play is not in question because the answer is QT, Los, and even Polee (for shot-blocking only)

    As far as %s..come on don't go all in-depth. Enjoy the times. yea, during Bayno's times he would get a good player every year or two, but he wouldn't have a team FULL of high quality players like this!
    Kruger has some great players in this program and he is doing it the right way so we do not have to worry about the NCAA snoopin around our business!

    **Oh, and pretty much ALL of the great players that played for Tark were TRANSFERS or were DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH. He didn't look into the top 100. He scouted, and chose players on his own. Armon Gillam was a bench player from a juco school and look how he turned out..

    Also, Tark wouldn't have players that each could do everything. He would have 5 players that all could do 1 thing very well and when he put those 5 together they worked very well. That is what Kruger is looking for.

    He needs a great shooter, a great passer, a great defender, a great postguy, and a great slasher in there all at once and they will combine to be the perfect five-headed-monster!

  18. a long post? what a surprise. not knowing what he's talking about... speaking on tarks behalf... good old 11. surprised there was no sufferin' reference.

  19. Any updates on Joseph, Polee or Gordon (from UCLA)??

  20. what is so hard to understand about that post? please elaborate

  21. nothing on CJ or DP..but Gordon is visiting New Mexico. That is all I know.

    he is interested in the MWC. I do not know if UNLV has expressed interest..

  22. that is what I hope..that the team is playing their best basketball going into the homestretch of conference play

  23. historically, Kruger teams learn after a loss and get better. I think last year was an anomaly because their was no true player leadership on the team. This year there is, so they may drop one here or there, but will continue to improve overall.

  24. just a couple points about bayno and tarks recruiting.

    The Sporting News recognized the 1997 recruiting class of the Runnin' Rebels as the best in the nation while the 1999 recruiting class was ranked as the second-best class in the country by Hoop Scoop.

    Shawn Marion, Keon Clark, Tyrone Nesby and Marcus Banks and even though he never played a minute here Lamar Odom. All NBA players recruited by Bayno. If nothing else Bayno could recruit with anyone in the country.

    "**Oh, and pretty much ALL of the great players that played for Tark were TRANSFERS or were DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH. He didn't look into the top 100. He scouted, and chose players on his own. Armon Gillam was a bench player from a juco school and look how he turned out.."

    i'll agree with "Most" but not "ALL"

    Tarks McD's AA:
    McDonald's All-Americans since 1977
    1987 Larry Johnson Dallas TX Skyline
    1987 Elmore Spencer Atl GA Booker T. Washingtn
    1983 Freddy Banks Las Vegas NV Valley
    1982 Eldridge Hudson Carson CA Carson
    1981 Anthony Jones Washington DC Dunbar
    1981 John Flowers Fort Wayne IN Southside
    1979 Sidney Green Brooklyn NY Thomas Jefferson

  25. larry johnson falls under category of TRANSFER.

    And I don't give a damn if Bayno brought in the best recruiting class every single season, he never had ANY success. I would rather have a bunch of unknown kids take us to the tournament (06-07 team) than a bunch of five-stars not do anything but prep for the NBA (Bayno's teams)

    but you do make a point about Tark's McDs AA's:
    He had a few top notch recruits, but he wasn't interested in those type of players because they were five-stars..he was interested b/c he watched them play and realized how good they could be..

    In Tark's book, Tark thought he didn't have a chance with LJ until he told him he was interested.

  26. I agree with 11, I was at the SUU game and the Rebels missed a lot of lay-ups. Jasper and Santee had short hooks that they missed, AM missed a dunk and a lay up and Stanback missed a couple underneath. A lot were contested, but they need to put those easy ones down, and this game would have easily been in the 90s. These guys are still young. Just as experience can win you games, youth leaves you guessing. Talent wise, I think the big men are lacking, but the guards are as good as any out there. These guys are scoring in the 80s with essentially no inside game or even a threat of and inside game. Now that chance is doing better, I think we will see things open up more. These guys will be fine this year and even better next year.

  27. Bayno teams were mediocre because he wasn't much of a gameday coach. It's kinda funny tho, some of our unsuccessful years (Bayno era)would be considered a success for any other team in our conference, minus Utah.

    I do agree with you about the 06-07 team. Talent can only take you so far, while heart and attitude can payoff bigtime.

    As for LJ i know he's a JC transfer and that he committed to SMU out of HS. one of Tarks greatest assets was that he could find a way to relate to the players

    I am all for whatever gets us to the E8 and beyond. S16's are nice but that IS a mid-major goal, and i believe the UNLV b-ball program falls under Powerhouse, not mid-major, as i'm sure you and most other rebel fans do.

  28. The goal for all Rebel fans should be national championship. And to be 100% completely honest with you all, I think the player to lead us there could be none other than the hometown hero:
    Anthony Marshall (in his Sr year with a bunch of other great players)

    just my opinion though.

  29. I have come to the conclusion that rose1414 is actually sufferin's other account.