REBELS BASKETBALL:

Bellfield again torches UNR, pushes No. 24 UNLV to 82-70 win

Junior scores career-high 24 points as Rebels improve to 8-0 for first time since 1990-91 season

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Cathleen Allison / AP

UNLV Rebels guard Oscar Bellfield shoots during the first half of Saturday night’s game against Nevada in Reno.

UNLV vs. UNR

Nevada Wolf Pack guard Jordan Burris battles UNLV Rebels guard Anthony Marshall for the ball in the second half of Saturday night's game in Reno. Launch slideshow »

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RENO — Never one to publicly pat his own back, UNLV junior guard Oscar Bellfield merely chalks his consistent success against rival Nevada-Reno up as a coincidence.

Whatever the reason is for his annual offensive explosions against the Wolf Pack, he struck again on cue Saturday night.

In an 82-70 victory over UNR at the Lawlor Events Center, Bellfield blew up for a career-high 24 points, helping No. 24 UNLV win its fifth straight against its in-state rival and improve to 8-0 for the first time since the 1990-91 season.

"I have no idea," he said when prodded on just why he regularly delivers against UNR. "I'd say I have a lot of confidence. Just knowing I've played well against this team, I had a lot of confidence."

When Bellfield first played against UNR as a freshman, he scored a then-career-high 17 points, including 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, in a 64-57 victory in Reno on Dec. 6, 2008. It was just his ninth collegiate game.

Then, on Nov. 18, 2009, he set another career best with 22 points in an 88-75 win at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Behind his 24 points on Saturday night was a 5-of-6 performance from beyond the arc, four assists, no turnovers and two steals.

That means that in two career games on UNR's home floor, he's 10-of-13 from deep.

"I guess it's the rims," he said with a grin.

Bellfield's big night masked some other deficiencies in what was far from the Rebels' best night so far during the season's scorching start.

However, he led the attack on both ends of the floor in the game's first 15 minutes, which ultimately decided the outcome.

While UNLV dealt with what have been regular foul troubles out of the gates, the Rebels played constant sweltering defense, no matter who coach Lon Kruger had to put on the floor as fouls piled up quickly. The Rebels' signature pressure made the young Wolf Pack guards look that much more inexperienced.

UNR missed its first 13 field goal attempts of the night, finally converting one when the game was roughly 11 minutes old on a Deonte Burton layup. But that bucket, which brought a frustrated crowd of 5,967 to a roar, only made it a 22-6 game, as UNLV scored in multiple ways early on.

"I wouldn't say they were panicking, but they knew they had to get something going," said sophomore guard Justin Hawkins, who stepped up to play 13 crucial first-half minutes and a career-high 29 on the night. "But then, at the same time, we just had to keep on the gas pedal and keep playing hard."

Following its first bucket, the Wolf Pack woke up momentarily, closing back to within 13 points at 36-23 following a pair of Dario Hunt free throws with 1:58 left in the half.

But Bellfield then sparked a 10-2 run to close out the half by hitting a 3-pointer and sinking two late free throws. That spurt again sucked the life out of the partisan crowd.

"Oscar was fantastic," Kruger said. "Anytime we needed a bucket to kind of keep that margin, Oscar stepped up and made a play."

Bellfield would have to do the same thing a couple more times in the second half, which was sort of unexpected, considering the Rebels appeared to have the Wolf Pack buried at the break, leading 46-25.

UNLV had trouble asserting itself on the defensive end after halftime and still couldn't avoid foul trouble, as the Rebels would end up committing a season-high 24 personal fouls.

UNR opened the second half on a quick 8-2 run before Bellfield assisted a Derrick Jasper layup, then hit a trey two minutes later to push UNLV's lead back up to 16 points. After the hosts closed back to within 10 points off of a Burton three with 8:07 left, Bellfield struck again from downtown just 23 seconds later.

The Rebels cruised on home from there but were far from happy with their second-half showing. The Wolf Pack was 18-of-31 (58.1 percent) from the floor in the final 20 minutes and turned what started out as an atrocious night offensively into a somewhat respectable one.

But the general feeling among the visitors afterward was a pretty good one.

UNLV remained unscathed at the end of a brutal stretch in which it played five games on the road in nine days. In that time, the team traveled nearly 5,000 miles across three time zones. The players, who this week will have final exams to deal with, have only spent about 72 hours in Las Vegas since last Tuesday.

"It's satisfying, just being on the road with these five games, but we have a lot of work to do, because today, we're not really happy with our performance," Hawkins said.

UNLV remained consistent on Saturday in that its scoring was quite balanced, scoring 82 points without getting a single tally from junior forward Chace Stanback, who entered the game averaging a team-high 16.4 ppg. Instead, he was limited to 14 minutes, finishing with four fouls, two rebounds and only two shot attempts.

As a team, UNLV was 29-of-54 (53.7 percent) from the floor. Jasper scored 12 points, capping several second-half swoops to the bucket with layups. Tre'Von Willis scored 11 in 23 minutes to go with his five rebounds, also bumping his rough shooting percentage with a 5-of-7 performance. Hawkins was the only other Rebel in double figures with 10, while redshirt freshman forward Carlos Lopez was big in the first half, scoring all nine of his points while Stanback sat the brunt of it after picking up two early fouls.

Hunt finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Wolf Pack, while Burton and Malik Story each scored 15.

UNLV will play its first game in Las Vegas since Nov. 20 on Wednesday night, when it will take on Boise State at the Orleans Arena. While the Broncos' football team has made national headlines of late, they are 6-0 on the hardwood, and could come to town at 7-0. They'll play host to Long Beach State on Sunday afternoon.

The Rebels will likely get a bump in the Top 25 polls on Monday, too, after surviving a road trip that didn't always see them play the most efficient ball but was productive in many ways.

"We grew a lot; traveling far, we were with each other basically every day," Bellfield said. "Our chemistry is just getting better and better."

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  1. Rebels will be 9-0 when they head to Louisville to take on the Cards!!! And 10-0 when they come back to Vegas!!!

  2. Agreed. And maybe this time Pitino will shake Coach's hand after Kruger hands him his 3rd consecutive loss to "them boys from the desert". Or maybe the magical powers of the YUM Center will be too much for our guys to handle. What a lame name.

  3. @ AJ, he shook Kruger's hand last year when we beat them at home.

  4. I am kinda disappointed about how well we let them shoot at the end. I do understand that they are a little worn out from the road so it's ok here and there. I guess I just get so excited by our team this year and I want them to just build amazing momentum before louisville. They are tough and underrated this year

  5. Why is Lopez missing from the box score?

  6. Watched Kentucky play N. Carolina yesterday, and I would have to say, at this point in the season, the Rebels could beat either team on a nuetral court. They don't move without the ball well, and their is alot of one on one play. It was like watching a McDonalds All-American all-star game with a little better defense.

  7. @lvrebel76 - Yeah, I just saw that omission as well. Also Chace Stanback is also missing.

  8. I think the poorer performance in the second half of the game can be chalked up to the tough road schedule 5 games in 9 days (?) + the altitude change.

  9. plus finals.

  10. Awesome work, Rebels! Keep it up!

  11. I'm happy we won the game, but it was hands down the worst performance of the year.Allowed far too many o-rebounds and too many fouls. If we play like that against Louisville, we will be 9-1. Oscar, however, played brilliantly.

    And Lampshade, I hate to point out the obvious, but without this "hick town", as you call it, there would be no University of Nevada -Reno. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the letters U-N-R stand for University of Nevada-Reno? I didn't realize that you northerners were so sensitive.

    Besides, I think everyone really knows the only REAL University of Nevada is the one on Maryland Pkwy...

  12. @Lampshade: take a shower man. UNR will always be UNR. When you come to Vegas it will ALWAYS be called UNR. Your football coach can cry All he wants about his credentials saying UNR. He will get them saying UNR as long as UNR exists.

  13. Zerocals and liljoe, you took the words right out of my mouth and everyone else's. Copy and paste your posts and keep them on file. It seems like everytime UNR is mentioned, a couple fans start whining, including the biggest whiner, Chris Ault.

    Lampshade, if you're from Reno, your posts lost all their credibility in the first sentence. You can't call any other city but your own a "hick town." That's the first sign of being from a hick town. If you don't take our Las Vegas media seriously, you probably shouldn't register with our superior Las Vegas newspaper. That's another sign of being from a hick town.

    Way to go Rebels! Keep runnin'!

  14. when was the last time any Sun readers went to the Reno Gazette for news?

  15. lampshade = Chris Ault

  16. JerryWayne - Right on!
    Lampshade - you must be hiding under it!
    UNLV is the University of NEVADA as well. Get over yourself. It's time for us to "all get along" cuz we're going to be in the same conference... Play nice!

  17. who cares if vegas refers to the Wolf Pack as UNR? They're the only ones that do it in the entire country, and it seems to make them feel good, so let them have their fun. It's just an inferiority complex that is rearing its ugly head as Nevada gets closer to making the move to the MWC. Frankly, this topic is about as relevant as the rebel football program. In other words, it's dead to anyone outside of vegas.

  18. This thread is about hoops NV! Hows the wolf pack doing on the hard wood this year? ;)

  19. If its really "Nevada", what school does this scam of a website represent?

    http://www.unr.edu/

  20. @sofakingbored

    Its a conspiracy by the "hicks" down in Las Vegas thats 5 times Reno's size.