Published Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 | 6:48 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 | 9:05 p.m.
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UNLV vs. Holy Cross
Holy Cross Crusaders(0-4) at UNLV Rebels (3-0)
Where: Thomas & Mack Center
When: 7 p.m.
Coaches: Lon Kruger is 115-53 in six seasons at UNLV and 433-286 in 24 overall seasons; Sean Kearney is 0-4 in his first season at Holy Cross and overall.
Series: UNLV leads, 1-0
Last time: The Rebels won, 92-75, in Las Vegas on Dec. 29, 1980
TV/Radio: None/ESPN Radio 1100-AM
G R.J. Evans (6-3, 200) 11.8 ppg, 9 rpg
G Andrew Beinert (6-4, 185) 11.3 ppg, 4.1 apg
F Mike Cavataio (6-4, 190) 10.5 ppg, 3.5 apg
F Eric Meister (6-8, 225) 6.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
C Andrew Keister (6-9, 235) 14.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Bench: G Devin Brown (6-1, 190) 14.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg
What to watch: Cavataio left St. John’s to play for the Cross. Evans takes the most shots on the team but has the worst shooting touch – .302. The Crusaders only make 32 percent of their 3-pointers as a team. Beinert has an assists-to-turnovers ratio of better than 3-1. Look for more than a little 2-3 zone defense from HC.
G Tre’Von Willis (6-4, 195) 16.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
G Oscar Bellfield (6-2, 180) 8.3 ppg, 4 apg
G Derrick Jasper (6-6, 215) 7.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.7 apg
F Chace Stanback (6-8, 210) 7.7 ppg, 6 rpg
C Brice Massamba (6-10, 240) 8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Bench: G Kendall Wallace (6-4, 190) 9 ppg; F Darris Santee (6-8, 225) 5.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg; G Justin Hawkins (6-3, 190) 8 ppg, 3.7 rpg; G Anthony Marshall (6-3, 200) 4.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg; C Matt Shaw (6-8, 240) 6.7 ppg, 3 rpg; G Steve Jones (6-1, 220) 4.3 ppg.
What to watch: That turnover percentage rate hit 14.9 (19th in the nation) with those 15 turnovers against Southern Illinois. Wallace is shooting 63.6% beyond the arc. Bellfield and Jasper are shooting a combined 14-for-26 at the free-throw line. UNLV averages 85.7 points and yields 65.3 a game.
UNLV's 80-59 victory Wednesday against Holy Cross was its fourth straight to open the season and arguably the Rebels' best all-round performance of the initial three weeks.
Tre'Von Willis and Anthony Marshall had a game-high 14 points to lead the Rebels, while Oscar Bellfield added 13 points and Justin Hawkins had 12. UNLV won the game with its defense, forcing 24 turnovers and scoring 32 points off those Holy Cross miscues.
Unlike the past three games, the Rebels didn't struggle out of the gate. In fact, their biggest deficit was two points and that was for literally seconds three minutes into the game. Overall, it was a solid building block for Saturday's showdown with nationally-ranked Louisville. Expect the Thomas & Mack to be rockin' for that afternoon tilt.
Until then, we'll have all your news and notes. Here's hoping everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.
5:26, second half, UNLV leads 73-51
Fans are now exiting the Thomas & Mack Center as UNLV holds a convincing 73-51 lead against Holy Cross with 5:26 to play.
A fancy alley-oop from Tre'Von Willis to Derrick Jasper with about seven minutes left showed the athletic ability the Rebels have. It's the type of ability that will be tested Saturday when nationally-ranked Louisville comes to town for arguably UNLV's biggest non-league game of the year.
UNLV is resting leading scorers Tre'Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield, and reserves Anthony Marshall of Mojave High in North Las Vegas and Justin Hawkins are getting quality playing time at the guard position. Both have scored in double digits with Marshall posting 11 points and Hawkins 10.
7:44, second half, UNLV leads 67-46
Oscar Bellfield just hit his third 3-pointer of the game Wednesday night to give the Rebels their biggest lead against visiting Holy Cross, a 67-46 advantage with 7:44 to play.
Tre'Von Willis has made 7-of-10 shots for a game-high 14 points and also leads UNLV with five rebounds. This comes on the heals of a career-high 25 points last Saturday against Southern Illinois — so, it's safe to say he's taken over the reigns as the Rebels' team leader.
Willis' most impressive basket happened midway through the second half on a give-and-go with Matt Shaw. Willis converted an easy lay-in to complete one of UNLV's nicest looking plays tonight.
11:44, second half, UNLV leads 57-39
Expect Lon Kruger to start emptying his bench here in the next few minutes.
Tre'Von Willis has a game-high 12 points and UNLV leads Holy Cross 57-39 with 11:44 to play. The Rebels have looked solid on both ends tonight, especially defensively where Holy Cross has committed 19 turnovers, is shooting 37-percent and only has six assists.
It should be fun watching some of the bench players contribute to the win. ... And the count down to Louisville begins.
15:19, second half, UNLV leads 49-33
UNLV has extended its 12-point halftime lead to a 49-33 advantage four minutes into the second half Wednesday night against Holy Cross.
Tre'Von Willis, who scored 18 points in the second half against Southern Illinois last Saturday, has six of the Rebels' nine second half points and now leads the team with 10. Oscar Bellfield is also in double digits with 10 points.
UNLV is dominating on both ends of the court, but is being out-rebounded 29-20. It only has seven turnovers, while Holy Cross has 17.
UNLV up 12 at halftime
Oscar Bellfield has a team-high eight points and UNLV leads Holy Cross 40-28 at halftime. Justin Hawkins has seven points for the Rebels and Brice Massamba has added six.
The Rebels have led by as many as 15 points and are well on their way to improving to 4-0. Holy Cross stayed competitive early, but its biggest advantage was two points and they haven't led since three minutes into the game.
The UNLV student section, a group that sits (well stands for most of the game) to the left of the home basket, is out in full force tonight — which, considering tomorrow is Thanksgiving, is impressive. I wonder how many of them will show up at their parents' house tomorrow for dinner with their face still painted red.
3:19, first half, UNLV leads 36-22
The hours Brice Massamba logged in the gym this summer, a grueling conditioning program that helped him shed more than 30 pounds, is paying off tonight against Holy Cross.
On consecutive UNLV possessions, Massamba has been a monster on the inside.
First, he had an impressive tip-in off a missed shot. Then, he fought for a good look at the basket and converted while being fouled. He missed the ensuing free throw, but the Rebels still lead by 14 points with 3:19 left in the first half.
Oscar Bellfield hit his second 3-pointer of the game and has a game-high eight points.
7:37, first half, UNLV leads 27-17
Looks like those early-game difficulties are a thing of the past for the Rebels. Well, at least for tonight's game.
UNLV is having no problems with Holy Cross of the Patriot League, receiving a balanced effort in leading 27-17 with 7:37 to play in the first half. The Rebels have led by as many as 13 points as they are shooting 58-percent.
Oscar Bellfield and Justin Hawkins lead UNLV with five points apiece, Tre'Von Willis has four points and freshman Anthony Marshall has three points and three assists in four minutes off the bench.
11:59, first half, UNLV leads 18-12
Sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield has scored five straight points and the Rebels lead Holy Cross 18-12 with 11:59 to play in the first half.
Darris Santee has made an impact off the bench for UNLV, connecting on both his shots for four points in three minutes. The Rebels have already played 10 players, which has been coach Lon Kruger's style early this season — 11 players average at least 11 minutes per game.
Several should see significant minutes tonight with a lopsided victory for UNLV expected.
15:38, first half, UNLV leads 7-5
Tre'Von Willis has picked up where he left off during the last UNLV basketball game.
Willis, who had a career-high 25 points against Southern Illinois last Saturday, has scored four points in the initial five minutes Wednesday against Holy Cross and the Rebels hold a 7-5 advantage at the first media timeout.
Chace Stanback has the Rebels' other three points as UNLV looks to move to 4-0 on the season.
Much has been said and written about the team's struggles early in games and the verdict is still out as to whether they will struggle tonight. My bet is they won't.
The UNLV basketball team should have no problems tonight in defeating visiting Holy Cross of the Patriot League at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Look for the Rebels to work on ironing out some wrinkles in preparation for a step up in competition against Louisville on Saturday afternoon.
UNLV has won its first three games, but have trailed early in each contest, including by double digits Nov. 21 against Southern Illinois and Nov. 18 against UNR.
That won’t fly against Louisville and will be a point of emphasis tonight.
UNLV is wearing its gray home jerseys, a break from the Rebels’ traditional home whites. The shorts have red trim and look sharp — not that I’m a fashion expert.
Not much stands out about Holy Cross (0-4), which is still looking for its first win.