LIVE GAME BLOG: Final:

UNLV stumbles to second consecutive loss, falling to UCSB, 68-62

Rebels come unraveled offensively in second half, now 9-2 on season

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV’s Quintrell Thomas, Karam Mashour and Todd Hanni suffer through the final minutes of their 68-62 loss to UC Santa Barbara Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 | 8:43 p.m.

UNLV vs. UC Santa Barbara

UNLV guard Derrick Jasper grabs a rebound from UC Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson (L) and center Greg Somogyi during their game Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UCSB won the game 68-62 Launch slideshow »

Final, UCSB wins, 68-62

Some will say that UNLV was a bit hungover from its first loss of the season on Wednesday night against UC Santa Barbara.

But really, the Gauchos were as well-prepared as any Rebels opponent this season, pulling out a 68-62 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night, dropping UNLV to 9-2 on the season.

It was UCSB's third straight win over UNLV.

The Rebels were an unsightly 18-of-62 from the floor, and in the second half only scored two buckets from inside the 3-point arc. All night, they struggled to find a flow against the Gauchos' strong zone defense.

UCSB (5-3) was efficient, going 22-of-44 from the field and 9-of-19 from 3-point range. Junior James Nunnally iced it late at the line, finishing with a game-high 23 points.

For UNLV, Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis combined for 30 points, but were also together 9-of-28 from the floor. The Rebels were also just 20-of-34 from the line, failing to take advantage of several foul calls against UCSB.

The Rebels are back in action on Saturday at 7 p.m. at home against against Southern Utah. For full postgame coverage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

5:37, Second Half, UCSB leads 56-49

For the first time this season, UNLV fans at the Mack let out boos in frustration towards the home team, coming at the end of one possession in which the Rebels missed a trio of 3-point tries.

UNLV in the second half is just 5-of-20 from the floor, and 14 of those shot attempts have come from deep. The Rebels have just one bucket from inside the arc this half.

Meanwhile, UCSB has been effectively selective, going 4-of-5 from long range this half and 11-of-15 from the floor.

This might be where Willis reasserts himself as the team's go-to guy, as a big run is needed and the pressure is starting to get high.

10:47, Second Half, UCSB leads 52-45

UNLV rolled the momentum over a little bit from its hot close to the first half into the opening moments of the second.

Chace Stanback made up for a cold opening 20 minutes with a pair of deep 3-pointers from the right wing to extend UNLV out to a lead as big as five points, but it took UC Santa Barbara only minutes to steal control back.

Justin Joyner hit two threes from the left corner, and as a team, UCSB has nine treys, now back out on top 52-45 mid-way through the second half.

The Rebels are just 4-of-15 from the floor in the second half. They've attacked the Gauchos' zone defense more effectively, but now just can't hit shots. Also, they're not taking advantage of some home cooking from the refs, going only 13-of-22 from the free throw line. UCSB has only attempted five free throws all night.

UNLV could use a spark from someone, and a good candidate would be Anthony Marshall, who hasn't been himself tonight, with no points on 0-for-4 shooting, with four rebounds and two turnovers on his stat line.

Halftime, game tied 30-30

UNLV erased a horrible start to the game by playing a brilliant final few minutes, closing the first half on a 12-0 run to tie things up at the break with UC Santa Barbara, 30-30.

On a big trip down the floor late in the stanza, Quintrell Thomas and Derrick Jasper each had 3-point plays sandwiched around a Gauchos turnover, bringing the anxious crowd to a frenzy.

Jasper led all Rebels with eight points in 17 minutes to go with his four rebounds. Thomas picked up just one foul in an impressive first half that saw him register four points and five rebounds - four of which were offensive - in nine minutes.

The Gauchos started 4-of-6 from 3-point range to build their early lead, but were just 1-of-7 from deep after that.

Meanwhile, UNLV is tied at the half after hitting just 10 of 30 shots and one 3-pointer. They've out-rebounded UCSB 24-14, which helped even things out.

UNLV needs to roll that momentum over. They were allowed an ugly open after Saturday's tough loss, but it has to end there.

Other numbers of note: Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally each have a team-high eight points for UCSB ... Chace Stanback is just 2-of-7 from the floor and 1-of-4 from 3-point land ... The Rebels had seven assists and nine turnovers, while UCSB had eight assists and 10 giveaways.

11:10, First Half, UCSB leads 20-13

UC Santa Barbara did its homework and came out with a 1-3-1 matchup zone on the defensive end. The Gauchos have coupled that with hot shooting on the other end to open up an early 20-13 lead in front of a quieted crowd at the Mack.

The Rebels early on tried to speed things up off of the Gauchos' missed shots in order to keep them from setting up the pesky zone, but the problem there for UNLV is that UCSB isn't missing much.

The visitors are 8-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-6 from deep. Their two leading scorers on the season — James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson — hit back-to-back threes before the game's second media timeout to open up the seven-point edge.

On the UNLV end, a positive from the opening minutes was a foul-free six minutes from starting center Quintrell Thomas.

Pregame

Welcome back to the Thomas & Mack Center. It's been a while. Almost a full month, to be exact.

Now, the No. 22 Rebels (9-1) are looking to get back to playing the way they were when they first embarked on a stretch of seven consecutive games away from their home floor.

Tonight, they welcome UC Santa Barbara (4-3) to the Mack for a 7 p.m. tip.

UNLV's last home game — a 68-65 victory over Wisconsin on Nov. 20 — came in the middle of a torrid stretch to open up the season, but in the last three games, they had patchy second half performances. Against Nevada-Reno and Boise State, talent won out for UNLV. Against Louisville on Saturday, it all fell through after the Cardinals caught fire in the second half.

It was a humbling afternoon for the Rebels, and now it's time to bounce back.

The National Finals Rodeo, as is the cow pasture smell in the building, so lets take a closer look at three things to watch in tonight's match-up.

1) Yes, it's a constant issue that we seem to be talking about, but UNLV needs a big bounce-back effort from its big men tonight. Carlos Lopez, Quintrell Thomas and Brice Massamba combined for one point and eight rebounds against Louisville. Yeah, that's not gonna cut it. UCSB has size, too, with four guys standing at least 6-foot-9, including 7-foot-3 junior shot-blocker Greg Somoygi.

2) We're starting to see that Tre'Von Willis is getting back to playing like the first team All-MWC performer he was a year ago, but how will Anthony Marshall respond to moving back to a reserve role? His body language has been interesting since learning of the move two days ago, as he hasn't looked as upbeat as usual, and maybe there's something behind that other than the role shift. Either way, UNLV needs him to be the do-it-all force that he's been all season long.

3) Last season, off of losses, UNLV had a tendency to look a bit hungover emotionally. They can't afford that tonight against a group that has all five starters back from a team last year that was in the NCAA tournament. UNLV's trademark for much of this season has been fast starts. The Rebels could really use one tonight to get rid of any remaining demons left over from Saturday.

As for my prediction and Pick to Click, I'll start off by taking UNLV, 77-67. I think a safe pick would be Chace Stanback, who is due to look like his early season self sooner or later again on offense. This seems like a good spot for him.

As always, to join the in-game conversation via Twitter, add the #unlvmbb hashtag to your in-game tweets, or give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene.

Talk to you again a bit after tip-off.

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  1. Getting lit up by the Gauchos? Not sure we will ever see man to man again this season. Wake up Rebels.

  2. Not really surprised about the outcome of this game because if you go back, we've always seem to have a problem with UCSB. Didn't think we'd lose this time, but hey, it happens. the last time we lost to UCSB, we ended up in the Sweet 16. Good thing we Play Saturday & won't have time to dwell on this one to long.

  3. It's official Lon Kruger MUST GO. Yes, he has cleaned up the program but losing at home to a Big West team would never have happened back in the day. Merry Christmas Rebel fans!

  4. Wow BasirWaahid if u saw this coming I hope u went to your local sportsbook and threw down some money on Cal-Santa money-line at +900. If u had a thousand bucks on that u just got back 10,000 dollars. Wow, this loss just got the NIT talk started back up in a heartbeat!

  5. Very frustrating loss tonight. The team acts like they've never seen a zone defense before. I'm no genious, but if your shooting 20% from three don't you think Kruger tells his guys to drive and take higher percantage shots. Hope the outside shooting gets better cause it appears that's all this team wants to do.

  6. That was pathetic. How could we lose to them. This is embarrassing and we can wave good bye to being ranked, and we probably wont make it back in the top 25. We have beat far better opponents then them. If we want to salvage the out of conference schedule we need to beat k state. I am very disappointed tonight.

  7. no offense to UCSB, but this was an embarrassing loss. Horrible shooting and way too many turnovers. All too often (as in past seasons) we attempt heroic comebacks, but have already dug ourselves too big of a hole to climb out of. Still not a time to panic, but we MUST have a better showing against Southern Utah on Saturday.

  8. Where are all the Lon Kruger supporters? Is he still the right man for the job or do you citizens of Las Vegas want better? LON MUST GO! LON MUST GO! LON MUST GO! LON MUST GO!

  9. UCSB was favored to win the Big West last year & this year also. You take a loss & move on. Tenn ranked 8th & just lost to oakland @ home. Which is worse? No need to over react. It's a long season. .

    @Canes, you're reaching. Didn't say I knew UNLV was going to lose, but if they did, it wouldn't have been surprised. And I still support Lon Kruger. Keep dropping your line in the water, someone will bite, eventually. NOT I, THOUGH. You're here for entertainment value, but no one's amused.

  10. That was an UGLY game. Honestly, I wish I could get my money and those two hours back. The best - and really only - thing that UNLV had going on tonight was its cheerleaders and the Rebel Girls. The guys pretty much sucked, from start to finish.

  11. Canes4Life Get A Life...Cane4Life Get A Life...Canes4Life Get A Life. Lon is a stud, you are a dud!

  12. Who said that we would never have lost to a big west team back in the day. We were in the big west back in the day and we lost all the time. Think before you talk.

  13. Good thing we weren't playing for the cannon.

  14. That comment about Willis's girlfriend was so tasteless. I'm surprised it wasn't removed by the staff. SylvesterReb the groupie that falsely accused Willis of assault was not his girlfriend. He's a player that can play through adversity, but with idiots like you it can be very difficult. Shame on you people who just can't let that incident go...to bad she's still stalking him. She lied end of story because she'll pay for her lies down the road. He or she who is without sin cast the first stone!