DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC :

Marshall steps up again, helps UNLV dance past SMU, 67-53

Freshman guard continues to create new comfort zones in Honolulu

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Eugene Tanner / AP

SMU guard Derek Williams guards UNLV’s Anthony Marshall in the second half of an opening round game on Tuesday night at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. UNLV defeated SMU, 67-53, to advance to the semifinals of the winner’s bracket at the Diamond Head Classic.

SMU vs UNLV

Behind the bench play of Anthony Marshall and Tre'Von Willis, UNLV beat SMU, 67-53, in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic on Tuesday night in Honolulu.

Diamond Head Classic: Tuesday

Saint Mary's guard Matthew Dellavedova looks on as a Northeastern player shoots free throws on Tuesday morning at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Dellavedova scored 17 points, including four 3-pointers, in the Gaels' 78-67 victory at the Stan Sheriff Center. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

SMU POSTGAME: What vacation?

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Ryan Greene and Alex Adeyanju discuss the Rebels' Diamond Head Classic opening round thumping of SMU on Tuesday night in Honolulu, 67-53. Plus, was SMU's closing of the gap late really worth making a big deal about? And a look ahead to what's left in the winner's bracket for the rest of the week.

HONOLULU — In front of 200 spectators at a luau inviting teams to the 2009 Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Monday night, UNLV freshman guard Anthony Marshall was put on the spot.

With a hula girl pulling at him to come on stage, Marshall gave in and stepped up.

"They were just calling random people up there and I just so happened to get called up," he said. "I didn't want to go up there, but she just kind of picked me up, so I felt like I had to go up and dance. It was pretty embarrassing."

On Tuesday night, he had to step up again, this time after sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield was called for his second personal foul less than a minute into the Rebels' opening-round contest against SMU.

Again, he stepped up, leading UNLV (11-1) to a 67-53 victory over the Mustangs (4-4).

The Rebels advanced in the winner's bracket to face host Hawaii on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. PST at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Warriors knocked off Charleston in Tuesday's nightcap, 84-71.

"I've been getting plenty of rest," Marshall said. "We got to see some stuff, do a little sightseeing, the hotel beds are feeling pretty good, so I felt pretty good tonight."

In 26 minutes, Marshall delivered with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. More importantly, he was the tempo-setter as UNLV raced out to an 18-4 lead within mere minutes and never looked back.

That spurt was keyed by Marshall's lone swat, rejecting a Justin Haynes dunk attempt from behind. On the other end of the floor, after UNLV recovered the loose ball, he notched the assist on a Matt Shaw 3-pointer. It was the first bucket in a 10-0 run.

"Whenever you can have a person come off the bench like Anthony and be as productive as he was today, that's only a plus for us," said junior guard Tre'Von Willis, who also tallied 12 points in a reserve role. "We expect a lot of things out of Anthony, and he's been stepping up to the challenge so far."

Marshall's biggest contribution, however, was dispersed throughout the stat sheet. His energy and example spread throughout his teammates and paced UNLV to what was far and away its most dominant first half of the season.

By the time both teams headed to the locker room for intermission, UNLV had forced 13 turnovers and had scattered SMU so much on the offensive end that the Mustangs had only three assists, were 7-of-30 from the floor and 0-for-8 from long range.

Meanwhile, UNLV had produced 21 points off of those takeaways and was chopping away at SMU's lengthy frontcourt as its confidence grew, scoring 22 points in the paint in the first 20 minutes. The Rebels held a seemingly untouchable 42-19 lead at the break.

Getting in the mix inside was the 6-foot-3 Marshall, who has struggled to find a consistent shooting rhythm this season. He entered the game 22-of-66 from the floor this season, including a 2-of-11 showing in Saturday night's sendoff victory over South Carolina Upstate.

"The first time I got the ball, I shot a jumper and it actually went in, so I felt pretty good," he said jokingly. "So I thought I don't want to just settle for jumpers, let me see how the defense is playing me. So I was able to get to the rim a lot tonight."

Added coach Lon Kruger: "For 30 minutes, we felt really good about what we did. Really sharp, good activity, awareness, forcing turnovers, moving the ball offensively well, a lot of good plays.

"A lot of activity on the defensive end. I think that created a margin to open the ball game. Making shots, of course, combined with the defensive intensity ... That's always a good combination."

So UNLV apparently showed that it in fact can open a game up in dominant fashion after struggling so much in first halves this season.

Instead, it was the final few minutes that showed cause for a bit of concern.

The Rebels led by as many as 28 in the second half but saw that lead shrivel to as few as 12 points in the closing minutes.

SMU may have had only six assists on the night to 21 turnovers, but the Mustangs showed fire late in a blowout and, in the end, forced UNLV into 17 turnovers.

Still, SMU's heart at the end won't be what is remembered from Tuesday night. Instead, it will be the message that UNLV sent.

The Rebels so far have had some time on the beach outside of the team hotel and cut loose with the luau, among other subdued leisure activities.

But the desired end result is well-defined.

"We're just focused," sophomore forward Chace Stanback said. "We came in here and understand that this is a business trip. We have to keep our focus.

"We came in here to win a tournament, not just to go on vacation and sight-see," Marshall said in a moment of seriousness.

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  1. AM I would have been gettin down dude. You seen how them Hula girls shake they hips and butts. But as long as you keep gettin it on the court, its all good.

  2. Anthony played a great game. He was aggressive, slashing and wreaking havoc on defense. Best half that I have seen UNLV play. Second half however was very poor. Only 25 points against that team? SMU will be lucky to finish .500 in Conference USA. When you have a team down Rebels, poor it on. You have 42 at half and do not even hit 70???? Lets keep Runnin!

  3. The first half was outstanding and we do need to learn how to "step on their throats" and finish them when we have them down but .500 in conference usa?! gumby, you are out of your mind and you need to get with Pokey and learn to spell correctly.
    Rebels to be back in the AP top 25 after this weekend and Kruger will have them prepared to go on the road in conference and take two strong victories to start league play.
    REBELS-REBELS

  4. You think that SMU team is going to win half of their games in a conference with UAB, Tulsa, Marshall, Memphis, UTEP and Houston? They are 4-4 with their only wins against Florida Gulf Coast, Huston-Tillotson(???), Occidental, and Texas State. I may have a few typos but it is you who are out of your mind if you think that team is anything but a bottom feeder in C-USA.

  5. Agreed, the second half was sloppy and very uninspiring. I just hope it was a bump in the road.

  6. I'm excited about the next few years at UNLV, with young player like Marshal and Stanback to follow up our Juniors Willis and Jasper, the futur of UNLV is bright! I just hope Hawkins and Marshal don't try to go somewhere to get more play time... They will get thier minutes when it is thier time!

  7. We seemed to struggle when trying to kill the clock. I would prefer we continue to attack and let the chips fall where they may. Why do teams turn from what got them their leads only to watch them dissipate?

  8. I agree Big John I have been saying that for 3 years. I don't care about sportsmanship when it comes to certain things it is the other teams job to stop you every play, not you shutting it down. I know Kruger is a sportsman and would never show anyone up but keep pouring it on IMO.

  9. gumby
    Basketball is not algebra:
    If A beats B and B beats C then A will beat C. The game is played on the court.
    UNLV killed smu until they decided to run some time off the clock, which I believe is a huge mistake; go with what got you the lead and keep piling on is what I say.
    Yes, I believe the Rebs can beat all those teams yoi mentioned by we will never know. Fact is, we have to beat whoever is on the court with us; be it the mustangs or the tar heals...GO REBELS!!

  10. I'm sorry, but you can't place the blame for that "lapse" in the second half squarely on the Rebels. The officiating was absolutely wretched during that stretch. SMU's players were literally crashing into the Rebs, or trapping and forcing them to the floor, and hardly any fouls were called. Out of the seventeen turnovers we committed, I'm guessing seven of those came in the last five minutes.

    I'm not saying UNLV's intensity on both ends of the court didn't soften, but the officiating certainly cast a blind eye to some of the more blatant fouls SMU committed during that same period. I agree with Big John, however, that when this team plays conservatively, we lose our edge and get sloppy.

    If UNLV can keep Hawaii out of the paint tonight, they should do well. Hawaii must've run that same post play against C of C a dozen times in the first half alone. I can't say I blame them, since Charleston made no adjustments against it. If the Rebs can block out, and force Hawaii to take most of their shots from the perimeter, we'll have a good chance to win this one.

    Go Rebels!

  11. Marshall reminds me a lot of Tre'Von last year. A great defender but a little sloppy sometimes on the other end.

    But he's awesome for a freshman. If he improves like Tre'Von has this season, I can't wait to see where he can take us!

  12. Hey 1rebelfan nice spelling in your post. Better check yourself before you start slamming me. By the way I never said anything about UNLV's ability to beat those teams. All I said was SMU will not go .500 in their own conference. Bank on it.

  13. I agree the second half was wretched, but I don't mind it too much in the first of 3 games in 4 days. All we needed to do last night was get the win and move on. Of course I want to see us put together 40 good minutes, but even with the poor play our lead was never really in danger, and all of our guys only had to put in 26 minutes or less. I think our depth and our ability to keep our guys fresh is a bid advantage, both for this tourney and for the big ones to come later in the year. Lets kick some Rainbow Warrior butt tonight! Go Rebels!

  14. Rebels need two good halves against a Hawaii team very capable of exploiting that glaring Rebel weakness...rebounding. With that Flemings kid and Balocka they have two guys that really love to crash the boards. We have to get physical and minimize the fouling if possible, i.e., the refs don't call every foul on the Rebels and not on their opponent, which seems to be a troubling theme this season.

  15. ^^^^^^^^

    Took the words right out of my mouth. A lot of ticky tack fouls were being called during that stretch getting the rebels out of rhythm and letting SMU repeatedly set their offense during an inbounds pass.

    This is the opposite of the KSU game, but the principle still holds true... The Points Don't Carry Over To The Next Game.

    Yeah momentum seems to be a bit of a psychological factor. But in the end a decisive win is a decisive win.

    I would like to see Kruger experiment some different plays and schemes up late in a second half, treat it as a live practice, rather than just running the clock (Though working clock is something that needs to be practiced by any team that wants to win close games!)

    Bring on the Rainbows!

  16. So if and when we run into a team with great rebounding and a few big men down low i believe we could easily matchup with almost anybody. I'll put the lineup below of what i would like to see against a bigger team...

    C - Santee/Massamba
    F - Shaw
    G - Jasper
    G - Stanback
    G - Willis

    That line up could be deadly. Jasper would be the point guard in this situation. You guy's let me know what you think about this since we still have not seen anything like this lineup yet.

  17. @ Devgpaul

    what are you talking about Marshall and Hawkins transfering because of minutes? Maybe the stangest thing I have seen posted on here!