Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 | 6:30 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 | 9:02 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins, 75-72
Though it was far from pretty, No. 20 UNLV was able to avoid what many labeled as another trap game on Wednesday night, downing Boise State at the Orleans Arena in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,320, 75-72.
The Rebels (9-0) set up a battle of the unbeatens on Saturday, when they'll travel east for a 9 a.m. tip against No. 24 Louisville.
UNLV got off to a hot start behind Chace Stanback, who after going scoreless on Saturday in Reno scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the game's first 11 minutes, including a trio of 3-pointers.
After getting off to a dominating start, much like Saturday, UNLV let off the gas somewhat on defense, and the final score made the game look not nearly as lopsided as it was most of the way. The Rebels were out-scored 45-34 in the second half, and will likely be reminded of their deficiencies by coach Lon Kruger and his staff before heading out of town on Friday afternoon.
Against a more capable group, UNLV's slip might have been more costly, but Boise State bumbled its way to 22 turnovers. Still, after having only three giveaways in the game's first eight minutes, the Rebels coughed it up 18 times in the last 32.
Meanwhile, the Broncos were unrelenting, and got to within as close as two points with under 30 seconds to play. However, Tre'Von Willis iced it with a pair of clutch free throws right after La'Shard Anderson's jumper.
Boise State's two leading scorers, Robert Arnold and La'Shard Anderson, combined for 36 of the team's points. For UNLV, Derrick Jasper was big in the second half and finished with 14, while Willis also tallied 14 and Anthony Marshall 11.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, analysis, photos, stats and the Rebel Room Postgame podcast, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
11:07, Second Half, UNLV leads 56-44
11:07, Second Half, UNLV leads 56-44
Again, much like Saturday night in Reno, UNLV is getting tested by an opponent who was down big early but refuses to go away.
The Rebels are still in strong command of the game, but Boise State has pulled in the second half to within as few as eight points. However, a Carlos Lopez and-one layup before the second full break of the second half has made it a 12-point game, with UNLV leading 56-44.
Chace Stanback hasn't scored nor attempted a shot since his hot start, and UNLV's defense has also cooled. La'Shard Anderson has stepped up in the second half for the Broncos. He now has 11 points to go with Robert Arnold's 12.
UNLV is simply getting sloppy with the basketball, too. After having eight assists to three turnovers at the game's first full break, they now have 13 and 14, respectively.
Derrick Jasper has played pretty hard in the second half, though, attacking Boise State's zone defense in strong fashion. He has two impressive finishes inside this half and has 12 points to go with his three assists.
Halftime, UNLV leads 41-27
Chace Stanback's 14 points are truly the difference, as UNLV holds a 41-27 lead on Boise State at halftime at the Orleans Arena.
Around him, several have contributed as he spent the last portion of the first half on the bench. Senior guard Tre'Von Willis is having his best game yet since returning from early season suspension, with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Boise State, after a dreadful 0-for-9 start from the floor, finished 11-of-29 in the first half, including four treys. Leading scorer Robert Arnold is responsible for three of them en route to 12 points. Outside of him, though, the team is just 4-of-20 from the floor.
So far, UNLV is 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
It's an interesting change for UNLV from its recent trend of playing sluggish offensive basketball at the Orleans. The thing to watch in the game's final 20 minutes will be if UNLV gets back to stepping on a down opponent's throat, or if the Rebels let the Broncos get their kicks in like the Wolf Pack did on Saturday.
And, I meant thing to listen for. Forgot that this game isn't televised. UNLV will be back in the public's eye for real on Saturday, when their game at Louisville will air on ESPNU.
8:04, First Half, UNLV leads 28-7
If UNLV held a 28-7 lead on Boise State on the football field, it would be a bit more shocking.
But the Rebels' 28-7 lead over the Broncos tonight at the Orleans Arena has been the byproduct of hot shooting and, once again, intense pressure defense.
Junior forward Chace Stanback has a game-high 14 points off of 5-of-8 shooting. That stat line also includes a 3-of-4 shooting from deep.
The Rebels are efficient with eight assists and only three turnovers, and have forced 10 turnovers already on the defensive end. Boise State is just 3-of-15 from the floor.
The Broncos are starting to look a bit more comfortable on the offense as UNLV has dialed down the pressure a bit, but the game is starting to resemble Saturday's in Reno. Expect Boise State to hang somewhat close, but UNLV appears to have firm control.
15:27, First Half, UNLV leads 12-0
Chace Stanback was clearly bothered by his scoreless showing in Reno on Saturday night, as he made it a point to get off to a fast start offensively tonight against Boise State.
On UNLV's first possession, the junior forward cashed an 18-foot jumper from the right wing, then added a 3-pointer from up top moments later, fueling a 12-0 Rebels run to open things up at the Orleans Arena.
The Rebels are 5-of-12 from the floor as a team, and just before the break, Tre'Von Willis cashed a three of his own in the left corner off of a great cross-court feed from Derrick Jasper.
Meanwhile, Boise State has no answers for UNLV's pressure defense, has three quick turnovers and is 0-for-8 from the floor.
For the first time since Nov. 20, the 20th-ranked UNLV men's basketball team gets to feel a bit of hometown love tonight.
While the Thomas & Mack Center is still occupied by the National Finals Rodeo until next week, the Rebels (8-0) will play hosts of sorts to Boise State (6-1) tonight at the Orleans Arena.
Boise State is no slouch, and it will be an intriguing match-up considering how rough UNLV has looked in its last two trips to the Orleans, which included an ugly 70-61 victory over Western Michigan two years ago and a 95-80 loss to Kansas State last December.
Still, the Rebels return home with an added bit of swagger that comes from five convincing wins away from home and a rise on the national radar.
Lets get to the three things I'll be watching for tonight between UNLV and blued-out Boise State.
1) Lon Kruger on Monday talked about using his team's first real practice in three weeks as an opportunity to clean some things up. His team got a bit sloppy towards the end of the long road swing, playing some reckless, porous defense in the second half in Reno on Saturday night. UNR's 45 points after the break were the most the Rebels have given up in one half this season, and the Wolf Pack shot at nearly a 60 percent clip. With that said, expect UNLV to try and apply heavy pressure early in this one. But with that, can the Rebels stay out of foul trouble? It's been a byproduct so far this season of those waves of traps and double-teams.
2) UNLV put up an impressive 82 points on Saturday without getting any from leading scorer Chace Stanback, whose scoring average dipped by almost three points to 14.4 as a result. He only hoisted two shots in 14 minutes, as foul trouble badly hampered him. Against a team UNLV has whipped in terms of talent like UNR, it was something Kruger's club could live with. Against Louisville, Kansas State and in Mountain West play, the Rebels will need Stanback on the floor and producing. How does he bounce back?
3) What kind of wrinkles will Boise State have ready to attack UNLV's pressure? Surely, the Broncos will have a better scouting report on the Rebels than maybe anyone has to this point this year. Why? Well, Boise State associate head coach Dave Wojcik is the younger brother of Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik, whose team fell victim to UNLV's sweltering defense just 13 days ago to open up play at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif.
As for a prediction and Pick to Click for tonight, I'm going to start by picking UNLV to win, 70-61. It's no coincidence that I'm picking the same score from that Orleans slop-fest two years ago against Western Michigan, because I think Boise State is capable of making this the same type of game. As for a Pick to Click, I'm riding UNLV's hot hand and going with Oscar Bellfield for the second straight game.
I'll be back with more after the game gets going. And as always, don't forget the #unlvmbb hashtag on your in-game tweets, or give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene to join the conversation.