GVHS grad Billy White toughs it out, but can’t lift Aztecs past Rebels

Junior forward comes back from high ankle sprain, plays 16 minutes, fouls out

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Justin M. Bowen

UNLV coach Lon Kruger shakes San Diego State forward Billy White’s hand after the Rebels defeated the Aztec at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, 76-66.

San Diego State vs UNLV

Led by the scoring duo of Tre'Von Willis and Chace Stanback, UNLV avenged three 2009 losses to San Diego State, beating the Aztecs, 76-66.

UNLV-SDSU Basketball

UNLV's Tre'Von Willis and Matt Shaw celebrate after Willis scored and drew a foul during the game against San Diego State at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday. The Rebels won, 76-66. Launch slideshow »

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The Rebel Room

SDSU POSTGAME: Another second half surge, another UNLV win

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer discuss what again was a tale of two halves for UNLV, as the Rebels used a second half surge keyed by defense and the offensive precision of Tre'Von Willis and Chace Stanback to down San Diego State, 76-66. Plus, a look at a recurring issue for the Rebels and why the team is set up for a nice run coming up.

There was no chance San Diego State forward Billy White was going to miss this game.

After all, it had been circled on his family's calendar since the schedule was released.

Despite being limited the past week with a high ankle sprain, an injury he suffered early in the first half against New Mexico on Jan. 5, the 6-foot-8 White targeted his return for Wednesday's contest at UNLV.

White, who attended Green Valley High in Henderson, wouldn't pass on an opportunity to play in front of family and friends at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The outcome, however, didn't go as planned.

White was held to five points and three rebounds in 16 minutes before fouling out with four minutes to play, and the Aztecs were defeated 76-66.

"We had an off night all the way around," White said. "The second half we came out cold and they took advantage of it."

White entered the game with 13:53 left in the first half and picked up his first foul five seconds later. That trend continued the rest of the night. He was forced to the bench with three fouls before halftime and picked up his fourth foul with nine minutes to play.

The injury and foul problems were a bad combination. He entered averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game but couldn't find a rhythm.

"Billy is high-energy," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "He is a great athlete and allows that athleticism to be a significant part of his game."

White is no stranger to the Thomas & Mack.

He frequently attended UNLV games during his childhood with AAU teammates Marcus Lawrence (Idaho) and P'Allen Stinnett (Creighton). They would wait after the game to talk with local product Marcus Banks, a former Rebel who attended Cimarron-Memorial and now plays for the Toronto Raptors.

The athletes were just in middle school but already had dreams of playing college basketball.

"I wasn't there rooting for anyone," White said. "We just wanted to see some good basketball."

Now, White is the one putting on a show.

He's one of the best forwards in the Mountain West and is fifth nationally in field goal percentage at 63.7 percent. He's a vocal leader on the court and one of the players San Diego State (12-5, 1-2) will lean on the rest of the season.

"We just have to learn from our mistakes," White said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at [email protected] or 990-2662.

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  1. This is a quote from another publication.

    "He will make the trip," Fisher said. "We are going to pack his bag, including his shoes. He'll be with us, and the bag will probably still be packed when we come back home. I see no way he can play."

    What a weasel Steve Fisher is. I suppose he was trying to get UNLV to not prepare for White playing. Nice try weasel.

  2. I don't consider that being a weasel, John. Coaches pull that stunt all the time.

  3. Yeah, you are right Ryan, but Fisher does it every time SDSU plays the Rebels. Last year it was White and Spain. I seem to remember they both played pretty good games at the T&M.

    I'm fine with a coach using "mind games," but Fisher's game is getting really old.

  4. Ryan, has Lon done it?