Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009 | 8:58 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins, 89-70
Using an attack which was a carbon-copy to the one that took care of TCU on Tuesday, UNLV ran past Colorado State on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, 89-70.
All five starters scored in double figures for the Rebels, who improved to 19-6 on the season and 7-4 in Mountain West play. CSU fell to 8-17 and 3-8, respectively.
Tre'Von Willis led the way for UNLV with 21 points, while Mo Rutledge scored a career-high 12 points on 4-of-4 3-point shooting in 19 minutes off the bench.
The Rebels were efficient right from go, applying constant full-court pressure to force 8 first-half miscues. Meanwhile, UNLV hit 20 of its 31 shots in the first 20 minutes, went 8-of-11 from 3-point range and recorded 15 assists to just 2 turnovers.
For the night, UNLV was 33-of-61 from the floor, finished with 23 assists and just 8 giveaways. Willis and Oscar Bellfield each had 6 assists.
UNLV is back in action on Wednesday night at Wyoming in a 7 p.m. tip. The Rebels will be back at the Mack next Saturday at 8 p.m. against BYU.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, photos, video, stats and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to www.lasvegassun.com/rebels.
7:08, second half, UNLV leads 75-60
With Colorado State and senior guard Marcus Walker charging hard, closing to within 12 points for the first time since the first half, Mo Rutledge hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game, giving the Rebels a 15-point edge with just over 7 minutes to play.
After shooting 64.5 percent in the first half, UNLV's dropped off a tad. Not that 44.4 percent is awful, but Colorado State has held steady, firing at 47.8 percent this half. Walker, though, is the Rams' only open-court threat right now is Walker, who has 18 points.
The Rebels are drawing close to a feat which they haven't achieved this season -- Having all five starters score in double figures. Oscar Bellfield is a point shy of that becoming a reality. He'd be the sixth Rebel to do the deed tonight, as Mo Rutledge has scored 12, giving him a new career high.
15:06, second half, UNLV leads 64-48
It's more of the same for UNLV as the second half gets under way. Very efficient offense with positive results.
The Rebels are looking incredibly comfortable and confident on both ends, and the full court pressure has peeled back just a tad with the lead being what it is.
René Rougeau has five points so far this half, while a Tre'Von Willis bucket has his total at a game-high 16.
Plus, a bit of props to the Rebel Girl cheering behind the CSU bucket who caught a loose ball while holding onto her poms. That alone qualifies her Valentine's Day as a winner in my book.
Halftime, UNLV leads 51-34
Behind 14 points from Tre'Von Willis, including a last-second leaner off the glass before the break, UNLV leads Colorado State at halftime, 51-34.
Willis was a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, had 3 assists and no turnovers in keying a patient offensive attack that saw UNLV go 20-of-31 from the floor and 8-of-11 from 3-point range.
It was about as efficient an offensive half as UNLV's strung together this season. Here are some more numbers ...
-UNLV allowed no points off of turnovers, while scoring 14 off of 8 CSU miscues.
-The Rebels outscored the Rams in the paint, 22-6.
-Inside of that 8-of-11 showing from 3-point range, six different Rebels have connected from beyond the arc. Mo Rutledge was the only Rebel with multiple threes, going 3-for-3.
-Oscar Bellfield has 5 assists to no turnovers.
Pretty cut and dry first half. It's what we expected, and barring a complete collapse, UNLV should clean this one up nicely. Maybe the most interesting thing to watch in the second half will be the point spread. UNLV came in as a 17-point favorite, and there's nothing more entertaining than watching those who bet on the game cringe late in these games as the Rebels flirt with the number.
3:26, first half, UNLV leads 40-30
The Rebels went through a stretch just moments ago where six straight field goals connected upon were of the 3-point variety, Hence, the 10-point spread on the scoreboard at the moment.
Mo Rutledge hit 3 of those, as he's backing up Lon Kruger's decision to put him higher up in the rotation of late.
Also, DeShawn Mitchell has 2 assists so far in 4 minutes played. Coming into tonight's action, he had one all season.
UNLV is 15-of-23 from the floor and 7-of-9 from deep. Colorado State is being affected greatly by the UNLV full-court press. For the second straight outing, the Rebels have forced a backcourt violation. This time, CSU point guard Marcus Walker yelled at teammates to quit running from the ball and help him out some more.
7:35, first half, UNLV leads 27-21
Mo Rutledge has now hit a 3-pointer in 5 of UNLV's last 6 games, and the two long balls he just connected on have pushed the Rebels ahead of a pesky Colorado State squad, 27-21, with 7:35 to play in the first half.
UNLV is 4-of-6 from long range, and again is looking very patient on offense as a unit. The Rebels are an efficient 11-of-17 from the floor.
The substitution pattern is looking like it's taking even more shape as the conference season progresses. Kruger certainly wasn't joking with the small-ball approach. Darris Santee played 4 quick minutes off the bench, but is now again resting. DeShawn Mitchell is getting serious first half minutes for the fourth consecutive game, and Kendall Wallace was yet again the first guy off the pine.
By the way, one of my biggest pet peeves of today's college basketball players ... Why is it that when a player gets called for a travel off of a head-fake, he turns and looks at his coach with his mouth wide open and a confused look on his face? Bothers the hell out of me. Just sayin'.
14:45, first half, UNLV leads 11-10
The score is a bit misleading so far. The Rebels lead the Rams 11-10 just over five minutes in, but UNLV appears relatively in control. The full-court press which showed up for 40 minutes on Tuesday against TCU is back, and Colorado State's having a tough time busting it. Once across midcourt, the Rams are having to settle for outside jumpers, and this is not a great shooting team.
UNLV on the other hand is doing it in all sorts of ways on offense.
Tre'Von Willis has some added bounce tonight, and has 5 of UNLV's first 11 points. Joe Darger is also moving around well without the ball rather than waiting for his looks outside.
At some point, CSU will cool off some on the offensive end. They're not polished enough to stay this hot.
With Colorado State in town, naturally the first thing to watch with less than an hour to go until tip-off are how the Rebels carry themselves in warmups.
Remember, it was in a Jan. 14 loss in Fort Collins when the Rebels' lackadaisical body language and performance in preparing for the game was symbolic of the team's play, most notably in the game's first 7 minutes. UNLV was turnover prone and couldn't find any offensive rhythm as Lon Kruger emptied his entire bench in the first half looking for a spark. On defense, they were constantly a step behind.
Tonight, the tone was much more serious. It wasn't more serious than normal. Just normal. Which is a good sign.
Not sure what kind of atmosphere to expect tonight. Saturday night crowds have been steady, but with it being Valentine's Day, your guess is as good as mine. One thing's for sure, though, and that's that this Colorado State mom behind me is going to get on my last nerve by the time this one's done. She showed up about 20 minutes ago and right away was yelling at the top of her lungs. The Rebels warming up nearby got a kick out of it. Then again, they don't have to sit in front of her all freakin' night. Not that I'm bitter or anything ...
Another pregame note ... 26:06 showing on the clock, and it's official -- Dave Hall's crew is not here tonight.
Now, onto the three big predictions ...
1) Picks to click Miech is taking Wink Adams. I'm going with Tre'Von Willis.
2) CSU's Willis Gardner will lock up the award tonight for Mountain West's best hair That afro is beyond legit. Too bad this game isn't televised.
3) Scores ... Miech is going 77-61, UNLV. I'll take the Price Is Right route and go 78-61. But in all seriousness, a performance like Tuesday's against TCU tonight makes that 17-point spread look like nothing. Colorado State will see a completely different kind of defense from the Rebels tonight than it did the first time around.
Miech - Wink
Miech - UNLV 77-61