UNLV BASKETBALL:

Notebook: Anthony Marshall a bright spot in second career start

Freshman guard scores 12 points, provides an early spark after starting in place of Kendall Wallace

#23 UNLV vs San Diego State

No. 23 UNLV drops back-to-back conference games for the first time all season, falling to San Diego State, 68-58.

UNLV-San Diego State Basketball

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall draws a charge from San Diego State guard Kelvin Davis during the first half of their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. San Diego State won the game 68-58. Launch slideshow »

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The guy who was UNLV's lone bright spot on Saturday afternoon in a 68-58 loss to San Diego State wasn't really in too bright of a mood afterward.

Freshman guard Anthony Marshall produced 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the floor and 6-of-8 efficiency at the free throw line in his second career start.

But with ice wrapped around a sore left hand, he left the Rebels locker room sharing the same sentiment as each of his sullen teammates.

"I felt like I came out, provided some energy," he said. "But I thought there was more I could do."

Marshall did exactly what coach Lon Kruger and his staff wanted the 6-foot-3 Mojave High product to do in replacing junior Kendall Wallace in the starting lineup.

Using his superior athleticism, he helped balance things out a bit as the Rebels took on quite possibly the most athletic team the Mountain West Conference has to offer.

He was a nuisance on defense, finishing with two steals, and provided a major spark early on when he swatted a driving shot attempt by fellow Vegas native Billy White underneath.

That block turned into an Oscar Bellfield 3-pointer on the other end, giving UNLV (19-6 overall, 7-4 MWC) an early 5-2 lead in a tough road environment.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, they couldn't build off of it, as after a 7-0 run, SDSU (18-7, 7-4) never trailed again.

"Second-chance points, they got a lot of hustle points, put-backs, knocking the ball out of our hands. Stuff like that that contributes in a big way," Marshall said. "We've got to fight through that and be aggressive on both ends."

Chances are Marshall will have the same opportunity to make his athletic presence felt in the starting lineup on Wednesday when UNLV attempts to snap a two-game skid at Utah in a 7 pm. contest.

But in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's loss, that chance for redemption felt far off.

"This long bus ride, it's going to be on everybody's minds," Marshall said. "We're a team that likes to joke and have fun, but I don't think anyone's gonna be like that on the way home tonight."

Inside the numbers

Some numbers of note after digging a bit into Saturday's box score ...

• While Billy White and Kawhi Leonard put up the biggest numbers in the front-court for San Diego State, running mate Malcolm Thomas was effective across the board. The lanky, athletic junior finished with four points, five rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals.

• Saturday marked only the third time this season Kendall Wallace was held to just one 3-point attempt. He was 0-for-1, snapping a four-game streak in which he'd made at least one from downtown.

• UNLV's 11 assists to 14 turnovers marked the first time in 11 conference games the Rebels have had more giveaways than helpers. The last time the Rebels did that was in their non-conference finale — a 67-56 loss to Southern Cal on Christmas Day in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

What's on tap?

UNLV now faces a must-win in a trip to Salt Lake City on Wednesday to take on Utah, who knocked off the Rebels, 73-69, on Jan. 16 in Las Vegas.

The Utes are not in the same situation as the Rebels in terms of playing for positioning for a potential at-large NCAA tourney bid. Following Saturday's 68-65 overtime loss at home to New Mexico, Jim Boylen's club is 11-13 overall and 4-6 in the league.

At the time, the win over UNLV looked like it could change the tides of the season for the young Utes, who a year ago won the Mountain West tournament. Instead, they've gone 2-5 since.

The final word

SDSU forward Billy White on wanting revenge on UNLV after he was hobbled in a 76-66 loss to the Rebels on Jan. 13: "I kept it in the back of my mind that I needed to get my team a win. If it was scoring 30 points, 20 points or whatever to get my team a win, that's what I was gonna do."

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  1. UNLV should win their last 5 games and finish the season at 24-6. Not bad, and deserving of a bid. They don't need to win the conference title (which they won't) or the MWC playoff. Unfortunately, because of their loss to SDSU, they probably will only get an 8 or 9 seed.

  2. Saying that they're going to win their last five is a bit of a stretch. While I want them to win in Utah, I think it is unlikely. I felt if they got no worse than a split (of the first four) to begin the second half of conference play they'd get into the tourney as an at large team but as I said, I don't think they're going to win in Utah. As a matter of fact....I'm expecting them to lose so when they do I won't be shocked. Hope I'm wrong.

    Too many holes, not enough athletic, aggressive big men to compete with the heavyweights of the conference that are loaded with them. Kruger better change his current recruiting course because the public is not going to stand by quietly while he loses three conference games in a row.

    Like I said though....hope I'm wrong.

  3. I love starting Marshall in place of Wallace.