REBELS BASKETBALL:

UNLV nearly flawless in 77-47 thrashing of Air Force

Stanback’s career-high 21 points highlight solid all-around Rebels performance in third consecutive win

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Bryan Oller / AP

Air Force’s Mike McLain (33) hammers UNLV’s Anthony Marshall (3) during the first half of Saturday’s game at Clune Arena. McLain was called for an intentional foul on the play, while Marshall finished the day with eight points in a 77-47 Rebels win.

Click to enlarge photo

Air Force's Zach Bohannon and UNLV's Kendall Wallace hit the floor chasing a loose ball during the second half of Saturday's game at Clune Arena. UNLV won, 77-47.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — So much for some suspense down the stretch.

In another contest against an over-matched opponent from the bottom portion of the Mountain West Conference standings, UNLV again was able to leave the gym statistically fat and happy, jolting Air Force on Saturday in Colorado Springs, 77-47.

Instead of getting sucked into a slowed-down slugfest, which several recent meetings between the Rebels and Falcons have turned into, UNLV asserted itself early on the defensive end, parlayed that into some prolific offense and then, ultimately, a runaway victory.

Everyone on the UNLV side who was asked afterward if they expected things to be so lopsided responded with a simple "definitely not."

"Coming into Air Force, it's always tough to play up here," junior guard Kendall Wallace said. "They play a whole different style of basketball and we came out today and were able to frustrate them offensively, knock down some open shots and pull away there."

Wallace had a key role in blowing the game wide open early, as he hit two 3-pointers during a crucial 17-0 first half run. That spurt began with UNLV up just 9-7 following a 3-pointer from Air Force's Evan Washington, bringing a brief jolt to the sparse home crowd of 2,430.

Sweltering defensive pressure sped up the normally patient Falcons, who run the slowed-down and precise Princeton offense. That caused a slew of turnovers, and the Rebels' collective hot shooting made matters that much worse for the hosts.

"That's a hard club to do that to, and our guys did a really sharp, alert job on both ends," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "There weren't many peaks and valleys, really."

Kruger wasn't just being generous in mentioning how difficult it can be to blow out Air Force. Aside from the Falcons nearly upsetting No. 10 New Mexico down in Albuquerque a week ago, this was the first time in five meetings between the two programs in which either team had scored more than 60 points.

And everyone had a hand in the blowout.

Leading the way was Chace Stanback, who tallied a career-high 21 points on crisp 8-of-13 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers. He also added eight rebounds, two assists and two steals into the mix.

Wallace finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting, while Oscar Bellfield had 12 points — including four deep balls — and six assists while playing a team-high 30 minutes.

As a team, UNLV was 30-of-51 from the floor, hit a season-high 13 3-pointers, out-rebounded Air Force 31-18 and racked up 24 assists.

For the Rebels, there was really nothing to scoff at anywhere on the box score.

"From the beginning of the game, I knew that we were really ready and knew how important the game was, so I knew that we were going to come out real strong together playing as a team and play real well," Bellfield said. "We're slowly coming back together. "

The recovery from a recent three-game skid, which concluded last Wednesday with a 66-61 setback at Utah, indeed appears to have almost come full circle.

After further padding their NCAA tournament resumé on Saturday, the Rebels now have an entire week off before the regular season finale next Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center against Wyoming. The Cowboys are destined to meet Air Force in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 "play-in" game to open the league tournament in two weeks.

The timing is perfect, in a way, as UNLV also now has a week to get back to normal in terms of its rotation.

Chances are both forward Matt Shaw and guard Derrick Jasper will return to the practice floor this week. Shaw has missed the team's last three games after spraining his left ankle before last Wednesday's game in Salt Lake City, while Jasper has missed eight with a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

"We like the week to prepare at this point," Kruger said. "Especially to get Matt back, to get Derrick back — as wishful thinking. We don't know, but we'd like to see what they can do when we throw them in there this week and see where they're at."

There's no pressure on either Shaw or Jasper to rush back, though. Without them, UNLV has shown against three consecutive struggling opponents that with the right mindset going in, there's little to stress about.

During their current three-game run, the Rebels have won each game by an average margin of 25.7 points. Next Saturday could very well turn into more of the same, as UNLV smashed Wyoming in Laramie in the first meeting back on Feb. 3 by a count of 78-50.

"We came out really hard," Stanback said of Saturday's effort. "And everything happened for us, it was all on our side."

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  1. I knew the Rebels would take care of business and as long as we beat Wyoming on Saturday I think we can get to the tournament with our current resume. Last time I checked we have more RPI top 50 wins than most of the bubble teams out there. A good run in the tournament should help, although I'm hoping that Utah wins there last few games because they are currently in the 6th seed and we haven't been able to play against them because of their size. Here's hoping for Colorado State.

  2. Win our last 2 @ home and were in!!! If Jasper & Shaw come back close to %100 we win the the other two...by the time UNM makes it to ship they should be running on fumes since their starters all play 30+ mins. Give me both Utah teams & UNM!!!! I'm ready for this
    REBELS B!@che$!!!!!!!!

  3. It seems like UNLV fans are the only ones in the nation questioning our spot in the Ncaa tournament.. The national media consensus seems to place us somewhere in the 6-8 seed position depending on how we finish the season and tournament. I haven't heard mention of the Rebels on the bubble for 2 weeks.

  4. Two of Suffrins fav teams
    KU & Kentucky!!! Hey Suffrin you luv North Carolina too.....LOL!!!!!!!!! REBELS B!@TCH!!!

  5. fkg319 I'm glad you're rooting for the Rebels but in order to comment on an article you usually need to be able to read it first.

    I think you might have meant to post on facebook instead...

  6. i just knew everybody would be here right now...settle down...and it goes a little deeper than just rooting for the rebels...by the way the article was ok and im glad your glad 123 :)
    facebook lol wont find me there lol
    REBELS B!@TCHE$!!!!!!!!

  7. Dream scenario: we get CSU in the first round and pummel them, stick it to BYU, give it to Stevie and his red blazer in the champ game. Go to the tourney and beat up on a 10 seed, and then get the dream match up. A face to face with a #2 seed Duke. Dont think we have forgotten about you Coach K! Then again maybe I should just worry about the Rebs getting to the tourney. That sounds more like me.

  8. Suferin has been real quit as of late. Just like the beginning of the season when the Rebs went on their undefeated roll & after they beat New Mex..Bandwagoning at it's finest.

  9. Although we seem to struggle against Utah I think we should play them and hopefully destroy them in the MWC tournament. Just to make up for the embarrassing regular season loses. Otherwise it's like BYU hoping they don't see Texas A&M in the tournament.

  10. I can't believe some of you are scared of sorry Utah. Its obvious some of you are not as confident in our team as you portray yourselves to be. Its obvious you don't really think we are as good as you hope. I say bring on Utah. If we deserve to be in the Big Dance, then we will flatten them on our own home floor. I mean, if you're scared of Utah, you are in complete denial of how good of a team we really are.

  11. Big deal that we beat up on the worst team in The Mountain West

  12. I don't think that anyone is making a big deal of it. It's a nice win against a conference opponent on the road. They put a bad team away early like their supposed to.

  13. williamtomany1, Perhaps you missed the Air Force AT New Mexico game. We beat Air Force by 10X as much as they did and we did so on the road. I'll take it, bottom feeder or not.

    patticcus, I'd rather have the team IN the tournament whether or not they "deserve" to be there. If we lose to Utah 3 times in a row (the third time being in the MWC first round) - watch out.

  14. Maybe we should have a parade for Lon and his boys on the strip for beating 3 of the worst teams in Division 1 basketball history. Go Rebels!

  15. William is a UNR fan, I see him on the RGJ all the time. He is no doubt mad because UNR lost to the last place WAC team (ouch!) yesterday (Hawaii).

    Anyway, I was glad to see us get a blowout win, but I want to see a complete game against a good MWC that doesn't become a landslide only because we happened to shoot the 3-ball well.

    In other words I want to see the Rebs blow out either SDSU, BYU or UNM without needing to shoot 80% from three.

  16. Yeah totally, we shot 27 threes against Air Force. I really wish we'd try and improve our inside game more during these bottom-feeder games.

  17. Canes4life, maybe we should have a parade for your Canes being the WORST team in the ACC and losing yesterday to the second worst team in the ACC.

    Wait, that makes even less sense.

    And maybe our parade could be for beating the three BEST teams in the Mountain West, which we've also done this year. The end of our season's games are against easy teams. So what? We're blowing them out.

  18. They might not say it publically but the rebs want the utes in the MWC tourney, that is how all competitive athletes think if they are worth anything. I think the rebs are already in the big dance but we will not get any love from the bracket committee as always. Probably a 8-9 seed which will give them a 1-2 matchup in the 2nd round. Time to step their game up & play like they belong.

  19. I think that if we can win the MWC tourney, after beating BYU, then UNM, we will get a 6 seed in the NCAA. I would rather play CSU in the first round game, just because we already match up well against them. Id prefer to have one more blow out victory going into the semifinals than a tougher, taller opponent.

  20. I agree Runnin_Rebel08. If we can win the tournament I think we're a 6. And we'll enrage Steve Alford (which I'm also all for).

  21. Sorry the name Canes4life is misleading a little. Grew up in South Florida in the 80's and 90's so I love the Miami Hurricanes football program. Yes, we are down and out a little right now, but we are starting to get back to where we need to be. As for the basketball team I could care less. I am actually a Georgetown fan in college hoops. We are kind of spiraling a bit right now. But trust me they would mop the floor with the Rebels. I just think it's funny how everyone on here thinks UNLV is so great and that they are going to get this recruit or that recruit. Lon Kruger couldn't recruit a bunch of 18 yr old boys to go to a strip club. Furthermore the Mountain West is horrendous in basketball. I will give them credit in football they have been impressive, but hoops way overrated. Guarantee your mighty New Mexico will be exposed in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament, along with BYU which seems to happen every year. Sure it's great to be excited about your local team, but that's all they are: local nothing more!

  22. Canes4Life-
    Why would a Georgetown/Miami fan be commenting on UNLV articles? I should be an Alabama fan in football and a Duke fan in basketball. Nah. I'll just stick with the Rebs. And I don't know how much smack I'd be talking right now. Your Hoyas just lost to Rutgers(15-14, 5-11). That's the equivalent of UNLV losing to Wyoming or Air Force. And losing to Notre Dame at home by 14 W/O their best player? The Hoyas are talented, but I think you're mouth is moving a little too fast. @ West Virginia next. Good luck.

  23. Shaping up to be one of the best tourney's yet, no question.

    - Mark Szczygiel

  24. Hold on with the MWC bashing C4L. It may never be as good as the Big East but is is improving every year, and even with a lousy TV contract is getting more national exposer. Of course we could just all become Syracuse fans from Nevada and one-up you. So in the 80s-90S you became a Georgetown basketball and Miami football fan. Now let me guess, are you a Dallas Cowboys fan too.

  25. Canes4Life-

    Let me get this straight, you are saying that Georgetown would mop the floor against UNLV. How are you coming to this conclusion?? Because Georgetown plays in the Big East?? Didn't UNLV crush Louisville from the mighty Big East. Doesn't Lousville have a better conference record than Georgetown?? Louisville 10-6, Georgetown 9-7.
    Before you start to bash the Rebels, know that they have already beat Louisville this year (and last year when Lousiville won the big east). I'm not saying that UNLV would beat Georgetown, but it would be a competitive game either way. Instead of getting on here and talking trash about the Rebels, you should probably worry a little more about your wonderful Hoyas.

  26. Agreed Mark. It's anyone's tournament this year, and I think there will be a LOT of upsets. My bracket is going to be sporadic, thats a fact.

  27. ignore trolls.

    I'm a little disappointed we have to wait until Saturday for another game?

    Does anybody think that the return of Jasper and Shaw will mess with the chemistry the current lineup is experiencing? It makes me a little nervous.

  28. on the radio after the game they asked coach that question..(chemistry with injured guys coming back) specifically about jasper. He said the staff has talked about it and feel that the rebels will be just fine with them both back in the lineup. They were also concerned with how both will respond mentally after both having 2 injuries in 2 years. Time will tell.

  29. UNM #2 seed, BYU #4 Seed, UNLV #7 seed, SDSU #13 seed.

    Lunardi also has UNLV @ 85% chance of being in the tournament and posted:

    UNLV [22-7 (10-5), RPI: 43, SOS: 96] The Runnin' Rebels trounced Air Force 77-47 on Saturday on the road, assuring them of at least a 10-6 record in MWC play, which should be good enough for an at-large bid. As long as UNLV beats Wyoming on Saturday at home, it should feel pretty good about its chances of making the NCAA field. UNLV has a 9-3 record in true games, 4-4 record against RPI top-50 foes and 7-4 record against the top 100. UNLV beat traditional powers such as Louisville (home) and Arizona (road), and won in tough environments like The Pit at New Mexico. The Rebels split games against MWC leaders BYU and New Mexico, as well as fellow MWC bubble team San Diego State. The Rebels have three losses to sub-100 opponents, losing to Utah (home and road) and Southern Cal (neutral court).

  30. canes4 is a fabricated front runner who loves to hate...he could careless about the canes because they suk so bad even though he grew up there...you got no heart and will be nothing more than a band wagon jumper your whole life...just anothern pathetic fair-weather fan who has nothing else better to do and since he's a transient LV "local" lol he's here...

  31. the run against these bottom feeders w/o 2 of our starters has been impresive . we will need DJ and shaw for this tourney run..esp DJ for that defense....No matter what happens the rest of the season it's been alot of fun with this young team. Any program will struggle with 2 starters out and these kids have pulled together with guts and determination rather nicely!!! If they get hot we can do some serious damage this post season. The MWC might have 3 teams in the top 10 in "2010-11" including UNLV and barring any injuries the Rebs will be scratching the top 5..thats right i said it....
    REBELS B!@CHE$!!!!!!!!!

  32. I would hope UNLV (or any NCAA non-military program) could beat Air Force. Don't they have better things to do than practice basketball... like focus on staying alive when they go off to war? Beating Air Force is not a major victory and that is not a slam on Air Force. UNLV sports are lame. How would UNLV stack up to Air Force in a game of Air Maneuvers or Paint Ball? Yeah, I thought so. I'm just saying...

  33. @ lvmd, you're right, maybe they shouldn't have any sports at military colleges.

    Now WTF does your post contribute?

  34. It simply contributes that I think LV sports are lame and irrelevant on the big stage. Oh, and it gets you fired up, which was a sweet bonus. Stay classy ;)

  35. @lvmd

    so irrelevant that you read the article and took the time to creat a username and post?

  36. No SO irrelevant... Check out the stands in the photo of the "thrashing." Big crowd. Yeah, I know it's a road game but still. I just think LV sports are lame. I'm not a "hater" per se, I just think the article title was a bit too grand, no? I'd love it if LV sports were strong, but they aren't. PS, I know plenty of Born and Raised LV people who agree. They are more concerned with what "the line" is or other gambling opportunities rather than how the home team is doing.-Just saying.

  37. "Just Saying" is a very juvenile phrase used when someone isn't really sure if what they are saying is true or not. They just want to get it out there and not have to acknowledge anyone else's opinion. It is used a lot by teenagers.

    So LVMD2020, why do you believe that what you think should be relevant to the rest of us who are just fans of UNLV? Even if what you say is true, we still have the right to be fans and to get excited when our team wins. Lots of things in this world are irrelevant. Are you only interested in things that are relevant to other people? That makes you a clone.

  38. No doubt Air Force Cadets would beat us in paintball. Thing is, we weren't playing paintball or air maneuvers on Saturday. We were playing hoops. And my Rebels looked quite impressive and seem to be playing well just at the right time. Particularly impressed with Marshall, who seems to be getting more and more comfortable on offense. Once he starts hitting the 'j' like we know he can, it will definitely add another dimension to the team.

    So go ahead and continue thinking LV sports are lame, LVMD, because you sound like a recent transplant who knows very little about the history of your current hometown, and so I won't waste too much time edifying you about the valley sports history (Agassi, Maddux, Tark, ever hear of those guys?) other than to tell you that this basketball program put together what many experts believe to be the greatest college basketball team EVER. And were it not for the NCAAs irrational fetish against Coach Tarkanian, today we'd be talking about in which region we should be the number one seed and whether we get another shot at Duke, etc.

    But coach Kruger has us back on the right track (finally).

    BTW, I am LV born and raised, and I've never wagered one penny on a UNLV game in my life...just saying.