AP Photo/Garry Jones
Published Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 | 8 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 | 11:14 a.m.
- UNLV, Louisville reverse roles heading into Saturday’s battle of unbeatens (12-10-2010)
- No. 20 UNLV gets ‘reality check’ in 75-72 victory over Boise State (12-9-2010)
- UNLV moves up four spots in both polls, now No. 20 in AP Top 25 (12-6-2010)
- 2010-11 UNLV Schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
Final, Louisville wins 77-69
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There would be no heroics from Oscar Bellfield this time around, and thanks to an outstanding performance to start the second half, Louisville made it known with roughly seven minutes still to go.
The Cards rallied in front of more than 22,000 fans at the beautiful KFC Yum! Center for a 77-69 win.
After No. 20 UNLV took a 38-33 halftime lead behind hot 3-point shooting, the No. 24 Cardinals took that tool away in the second half with a 2-3 zone defense that threw the Rebels for a major loop.
UNLV (9-1) went 7-of-12 from deep in the first 20 minutes, then only 1-of-5 in the second, while Louisville woke up across the board.
The Cards (8-0) had only one starter - Peyton Siva - score in the first half, but everyone else around him stepped up in the second. The most notable was senior guard Preston Knowles, who did a bit of everything and scored a game-high 20 points all after the break. Reserve guards Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric accounted for 33 points on the night, including eight 3-pointers.
For UNLV, Bellfield scored 16 points, while Tre'Von Willis had a team-high 17 and Derrick Jasper tallied 10. Chace Stanback had only two points in the first half off of a pair of bonus free throws, and never really got going, finishing with eight points on 2-of-10 shooting.
UNLV will next play its first game in the Thomas & Mack Center since Nov. 20 on Wednesday night, welcoming UC Santa Barbara to town.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, stats, photos and much more, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:40, Second Half, Louisville leads 68-57
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UNLV's offense still hasn't found any groove against Louisville's zone defense, and it's getting too late for the Rebels, who appear to be on their way to their first loss of the season.
Louisville hasn't slowed down, getting contributions from almost everyone in the second half and leads 68-57 heading into the game's final TV timeout.
UNLV has not run great offense all night, but a lot of that was masked in the first half by seven 3-pointers. Now, the Rebels have been completely shut down, and have only scored 19 points this half.
Meanwhile, Preston Knowles continues to impress and has 16 second half points. Junior big man Terrence Jennings finally showed up and has six points to go with seven rebounds.
UNLV only has two assists in the second half, and has only attempted 18 shots after the break compared to Louisville's 33.
11:05, Second Half, Louisville leads 54-51
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville finally had enough.
After falling down behind UNLV's continued hot 3-point shooting, the Cardinals have rode senior Preston Knowles to a 3-point lead at 54-51 as the second half hits its mid-way point.
Knowles, who was scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting in the first half, has 11 points this half, and has helped the UL offense push the pace while sophomore point guard Peyton Siva gets an extended breather.
Meanwhile, UNLV is struggling to move against Louisville's 2-3 zone defense, and Lon Kruger continues to urge his team to be stronger with the ball on the interior.
15:37, Second Half, UNLV leads 45-39
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UNLV showed no rust in the second half, and has come out of the locker room aggressive, showing no desire to let up following a late first half surge.
Oscar Bellfield continues to go wild on Louisville, and hit a big 3-pointer early in the second half, giving him 14 points. UNLV's lead currently sits at 45-39.
Also getting involved was Chace Stanback, who 2:30 into the stanza scored his first bucket of the game with a trey in front of the UNLV bench.
An interesting moment occurred just over a minute into the half, as Kentucky transfer went to the free throw line for UNLV. The Louisville students changed 'U-K-Re-Ject' at him, but he calmly hit both, as UNLV has been continuously unflappable in front of 22,000 fans.
Halftime, UNLV leads 38-33
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Oscar Bellfield is well on his way so far to making it three games to remember against Louisville.
The Rebels' resident Cardinal-killer has a team-high 11 points and five rebounds in the first half, including two late 3-pointers that helped spur UNLV to a 38-33 halftime lead at the KFC Yum! Center.
Derrick Jasper, in his first trip back to Kentucky after transferring from UK three years ago, has six points and also hit a late trey as UNLV surged just before the break.
As a team, UNLV is 7-of-12 from 3-point range, with Justin Hawkins and Tre'Von Willis each hitting one so far. Hawkins played 14 huge minutes off of the bench in relief of Willis after the senior picked up his second foul.
Willis has seven points, while Hawkins has six.
As for Louisville, without reserve guard Chris Smith and point guard Peyton Siva, the Cards would be sunk by now. Siva has seven points and five assists, while Smith has a game-high 13 minutes in 14 minutes. He's responsible for two of UL's five 3-pointers. Meanwhile, leading scorer Mike Marra has looked rough, going scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting in 13 minutes, including an 0-for-5 showing from three.
UNLV probably would prefer to keep the pace of this game going, but has to cut down from its eight first half turnovers. Another thing to watch for early in the second half is Chace Stanback, who hit two free throws with three minutes left in the half for his first points of the game. He has two fouls, but is 0-for-4 from the floor in 13 minutes.
7:50, First Half, game tied 17-17
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UNLV's early lead was a result of both strong leadership from Tre'Von Willis and some sluggishness out of the gates by Louisville.
But Willis has since picked up two fouls, and the Cardinals have come alive behind point guard Peyton Siva breaking UNLV's press and bench contributions from Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric.
Smith and Kuric have each hit 3-pointers, while the Rebels have gone cold from the field Louisville has ratcheted up its defensive intensity.
Early foul problems continue to be an issue for UNLV, who put Louisville in the bonus with 8:53 left in the first half.
After a 1-of-10 start from the floor, Louisville is a more respectable 5-of-12. UNLV is 6-of-15, with Willis having a game-high seven points.
15:41, First Half, UNLV leads 6-2
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The fact that Louisville averaged 26.7 3-point attempts per game coming into today suggested that it's not a shy team offensively.
So far, that's proving to be true.
The Cards are 1-of-10 from the floor in the early going, including 0-for-5 from deep, as UNLV has scrapped its way to an early 6-2 lead at the KFC Yum! Center.
UL gunner Mike Marra, who was 1-of-10 from three on Wednesday night against San Francisco, so far is 0-for-4.
Meanwhile, Tre'Von Willis and Anthony Marshall each have early buckets for UNLV, who has quieted a crowd that, as is, is not very active or loud. It's surprising, considering that all 22,000 seats in the new downtown arena are full.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Take a quick walk through the brand new KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, and a few things stand out.
- It's a legitimate NBA-caliber facility, without question. It sets Louisville apart from other Big East programs without question.
- It's still got that new arena smell.
- Everywhere you look, there's somewhere to score a drink.
Combine that final note with the fact that every seat in the 22,000-seat building is expected to be full for today's noon tip — 9 a.m. Las Vegas time — between No. 20 UNLV (9-0) and No. 24 Louisville (7-0), and the Rebels might be really up against it.
This is the Rebels' third true road game of the year, but the 5,000-and-change crowds at Illinois State and Nevada-Reno pale in comparison to this.
UNLV is also tipping off the earliest it has all seasons by quite a wide margin. Before today, the Rebels' have only played one day game, taking on Wisconsin back at the Thomas & Mack Center at 4 p.m. on Nov. 20.
Now, lets get to the nuts and bolts, and the three things I'll be watching for today.
1) I'm brutally intrigued to see how UNLV performs in the first half of this game. The team didn't finish its dinner last night until almost 10:30 p.m., and I'd have to imagine that the players' body clocks are all kinds of messed up today. For example: They ate their pre-game meal at 8 a.m., which on their body clocks is 5 a.m. That's tough to ignore. And can the Rebels adjust in front of the most hostile crowd they've seen yet. Also, shooting will be interesting. The layout in here is like a true NBA arena, which the team hasn't experienced since last year's NCAA tournament first round loss to Northern Iowa in Oklahoma City's Ford Center.
2) If there was ever a day for UNLV's trio of big men to stay out of foul trouble, this would be it. Louisville isn't exactly deep up front, but between junior Terrence Jennings and sophomore Rakeem Buckles, the Cardinals have the most athletic front line the Rebels have confronted yet. In essense, they're two guys who closely resemble what San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas will show UNLV twice later this season. Given UNLV's struggles against SDSU's front line last year, this will be crucial to the outcome.
3) Louisville will play at the same up-and-down pace that UNLV prefers, but seeing that the Cards are chucking up an average of 26.7 3-pointers a game makes me think that UNLV could get sucked into the get-a-shot-as-quick-as-possible style. So will the Rebels be able to fight off the urge that wound up cursing them in the second half of Wednesday's game at Boise State? Lon Kruger the last two days has preached the importance of playing smarter. Time to see if his team got the message.
As a bonus 'Thing to watch,' I'm interested in watching Louisville sophomore guard Peyton Siva. The 5-foot-11 former McDonald's All-American is speedy and explosive, but last year was raw and struggled in the team's 76-71 loss at the Mack. He could be very dangerous against the Rebels' pressure defense, and the Cards' hopes against it could hinge on him.
For my Pick to Click today, I'm going with Derrick Jasper. I have to think he has more motivation than any of his teammates today having played two years of college ball down the road at Kentucky. You can tell he's been looking forward to this trip back to the state, even if he wont out-right admit it.
Finally, a prediction. I'm actually picking Louisville in a close one today: 77-72. Can't pick the Rebels every time, and this seems like a very tough spot, and I'd expect the Cards to be craving some revenge from the last two meetings.
Don't forget, if you want to join the in-game conversation with me on Twitter, either find me at twitter.com/ryanmgreene or add the #unlvmbb hashtag to your UNLV-UL tweets.
Talk to you again after tip-off.