MWC TOURNAMENT:

On to the next one: UNLV advances to MWC semis after topping Utah, 73-61

Marshall’s double-double and overall presence pace Rebels, set up semifinal showdown with rival BYU

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Justin M. Bowen

Anthony Marshall of UNLV celebrates after throwing down a dunk during Thursday’s Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Utah at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels advanced with a 73-61 win.

UNLV Beats Utah in Third Meeting

Led by Anthony Marshall's second double-double of the season, UNLV knocks Utah out of the Mountain West Conference Tournament, 73-61.

Fredette's 45 Leads BYU Past TCU

Jimmer Fredette's 45 points set a new Mountain West Conference Tournament record for points scored in a game, as BYU survived TCU, 95-85.

UNLV-Utah MWC Quarterfinals

Steve Jones celebrates after hitting a layup during Thursday's Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Utah at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels advanced with a 73-61 win. Launch slideshow »

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The Rebel Room

UTAH POSTGAME: Over the hump

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer cap a busy quarterfinal day at the MWC tournament by discussing what went right in UNLV's 73-61 victory over Utah, plus take a look forward at the third meeting this season with rival BYU in Friday's semis.

After finally getting the best of Utah in its third try this season Thursday night, UNLV could have considered itself as now just playing with house money.

Coupled with several other NCAA tournament bubbles bursting elsewhere around the country earlier in the day, the Rebels appear to be firmly in the field of 65 come Sunday afternoon no matter what.

But after thoroughly enjoying a 73-61 victory over the Utes in the Mountain West Conference tournament quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center, it was clear that the Rebels were playing with a deeper purpose than just padding their résumé or standing out in the eyes of so-called bracketologists.

"We're not really looking so far ahead to the NCAA tournament," freshman guard Anthony Marshall said. "We're focused on tomorrow, BYU, and winning this conference."

Yes, UNLV will provide its fans with a third installment in the season series with its biggest rival at 8:30 p.m. Friday back at the Mack in the night's second semifinal, following a 6 p.m. clash between top-seeded New Mexico and San Diego State.

And in a game which many thought could be a trap against a team that already had upset the Rebels twice, Marshall turned out to be quite the difference-maker.

In his finest performance of his young collegiate career, the Mojave High product finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals, a block and a couple of highlight moments.

"You know, I don't think I can put it in words right now, especially for his first postseason game," UNLV junior guard Tre'Von Willis said. "He definitely was one of the guys that you could look in his eyes, you could tell he just wanted it."

Added Chace Stanback: "We followed his lead tonight. It was very impressive. He just showed that he had no nerves or anything. He just did it. We're glad he did."

The prime portion of his body of work came in capping a crucial 10-0 run early in the second half after Utah fought back to within a point at 31-30.

The Rebels had extended their lead back out to seven points following a Brice Massamba layup, when Marshall then stole a pass in the backcourt, wisely feeding Stanback for a two-handed stuff.

He then took a defensive board on Utah's next possession and turned it into an and-one, acrobatic finish on the other end.

"The first half, towards the end, the last couple minutes we felt like we had a couple breakdowns," Marshall said. "We were trying to make big plays, instead of just the single plays."

After the spurt gave UNLV a double-digit lead, the Rebels finally had found a way to crack the Utes. Jim Boylen's club got even more impatient and sloppy, and that translated into big plays for everyone.

Following two uncharacteristically ugly overall performances against Utah during the regular season, everyone who touched the floor for UNLV this time around not only scored but also found ways to contribute elsewhere.

Willis scored 13 points to go with his five rebounds, while Stanback had 10 points, six boards and three steals.

UNLV efficiently hit 27 of its 56 shot attempts and overcame Utah's size advantage inside to outscore the Utes in the paint, 24-16.

Maybe the biggest difference this time around, though, was the Rebels' defensive intensity across the board.

After UNLV set the tone early with the in-your-face approach it had employed each time out during a four-game winning streak heading into the league tourney, Utah never found its footing on offense.

The Utes were just 13-of-40 from the floor and committed 15 costly turnovers. Their two biggest offensive catalysts — guards Luka Drca and Carlon Brown — combined to go 3-of-17 from the field as the Rebels made them uncomfortable early and often.

"The first two meetings, their pick-and-rolls killed us," Willis said. "Our focal point, our starting point as a group, we wanted to take them out of that, try to make them dribble-drive. We did pretty well with it as a whole.

"We were definitely swarming around, which we definitely wanted to do tonight."

UNLV's win was the capper on a quarterfinal round which saw the top four seeds all advance, setting up what is sure to be a pair of heated games Friday night.

The Rebels (24-7) split the season series with the Cougars (29-4), first stumbling late Jan. 6 in Provo, losing 77-73. The Feb. 6 return game in Las Vegas saw UNLV put on its most blistering offensive performance of the season in an 88-74 victory.

BYU also had to shake off a pesky opponent in the second half Thursday, ultimately squeezing by TCU, 95-85, behind junior guard Jimmer Fredette's MWC tournament-record 45 points. That included hitting 23 of 24 free-throw attempts.

If there's one star player in the league who UNLV consistently has made a non-factor in their meetings, though, it's Fredette.

In the two games against BYU this season, the Rebels have held Fredette to 6-of-25 shooting.

"You know he's going to score. You respect that," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "But try to make him as inefficient as possible."

Though it technically will be considered a neutral site Friday, UNLV also has recent history on its side against BYU in the Mack. The Rebels have won the last seven meetings with the Cougars at the Mack.

But history alone won't do the job.

An effort like Thursday's, however, couldn't hurt.

"I'm not sure," Willis said when asked about why UNLV has so much success at home against its top rival. "If we want to win tomorrow, we have to bring the same energy and intensity that we had tonight."

Jasper still a no-go

UNLV junior guard Derrick Jasper missed his 10th consecutive game after suffering partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee Jan. 26 against Air Force.

After practicing all week leading up to Thursday's quarterfinals, he suited up, but during warm-ups only rebounded for teammates while they hoisted shots, and the fact that he wasn't donning a knee brace made it pretty clear that he would not go.

Kruger, before Thursday's game, said Jasper was doubtful to play against the Utes.

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Previous Discussion: 36 comments so far…

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  1. Some kids are tough (see Greg Anthony who played several games with his jaw wired shut) and some kids are soft. Jasper is probably done for the season. Too bad, but the kid should realize that at this point in his career he will never be an NBA player- this is IT. Tough it out and give a little back for your teamates.

  2. Anthony Marshall- a 6'3" Stacy Augmon. This dude gets a decent outside jumper, he will end up being an all time great Rebel.

  3. Rose 1414 are you suggesting that Jasper is soft? That kid played almost a whole season in Kentucky on a knee that was completely wrecked and required micro-fracture surgery. That kid is anything but soft. As for tonight the Mack should be Crazy! Would love to put another loss on BYU's March resume...

  4. You really want to compare a jaw injury to a knee injury? Come on. Jasper would be playing with a jaw injury. I would think this is more of a Kruger decision. Besides with the rest of the team playing so strong why take the risk.

  5. A jaw injury? Try playing basketball with your mouth wired shut. And yes, Jasper is VERY soft. Maybe he wasn't a couple of years ago, but the guy now plays like he doesn't want to get hurt again. Tepid and soft.

  6. Don't dog Rose too much about the comment of Jasper being soft. The Rebel coaching staff are the ones to blame by making this injury out to be something that will heal in time. The only thing that will ever allow him to play is to surgically repair his knee. Basketball is too much a strain on the ligaments to play partially torn. I know, I tried and had seven knee surgeries.

    Jasper realizes it would be another entire year of redshirt and then he would only have one season to play. Realistically his career is over and I feel for him. That man has as much heart as anyone I have ever seen. To go through microfracture surgery and play this game again is a feat that has not yet been accomplished succesfully. That surgery has been the end of many a basketball player in college and the NBA. It has been wonderful to see Jasper play here and I wish it could have had a happier ending. Jasper has earned my admiration and I am am sure I am not the only one.

  7. One comment on Steve Jones. I have been one of his biggest critics because of his lack of production on the court. It is truly not his fault as Kruger has chosen him at 6'1" power forward(LMAO), but if he were here another year and played the guard position, Kruger might actually have been able to turn him into a decent player. Last night was his best game of his Rebel career and I salute him, but I am glad he is moving on because I don't want to see a 6'1" power forward on this team. I know this seems like a backhanded compliment, but I blame Kruger, not Jones, for putting a player totally out of position. I slept last night with the vision of Jones trying to get a rebound under(not over) Utahs front line. It was histerical as he could only jump up to the guy's arm pits(about 3 feet short of where the ball was). Jones is truly a soldier having to put up with people like me and still go out and give his all.

  8. heres a little fun fact for you guys.... when steve jones playes more than 7 or 8 minutes were 15 and 1! GO REBELS!!!!!

  9. Jones actually played a solid game last night...

  10. Great game last night. Tonight's game should be a genuine dogfight but I'm super excited to see how this team faces a tough opponent with a lot on the line. Win or lose it should set us up for some tough competition in the NCAAs. Since were in the tourney, Kruger shouldn't even play Jasper at all. Let him sit and get another week to heal that knee. If his season is not truly over, were going to need him for his all-around play for 10-12 minutes a game for a legitimate shot at the Sweet 16. Love to see Duke in the second round, make it happen selection committee.

  11. Great defensive effort! Anthony Marshall - wow. Have fun tonight, guys. Don't let down. We'll start thinking about the NCAAs on Sunday.

    U-N-L-V!!!

  12. UNLV is playing with a ton of heart. This team has alot of upside going into the post season. I agree with SanAntonioRebel. Give us a chance at Duke.

  13. KEEP THE PRESSURE! I love the full court press, and have seen it work more times than not. Jones had the best game I have seen him play in for sure. Marshall was a beast all night. Willis was a little off, but it wasn't his night. Great game, and Las Vegas, get up and get out to the game. It's a lot of fun!

  14. By the way, UNLV on the front page of espn left side right now. GO REBS!

  15. I have to say i finally agree with you guys. Jones is awesome. You are correct, his two point game is the best of his career. There will be 3 players drafted in the NBA this year from the conference. Hobson, Fredette and Jones. All top 20 picks! Go MWC!

  16. The Utah win was an outstanding all around performance. Anthony Marshall's double double was one of the most impressive performances all year for the Rebs. Tre'von and Stanback each get double digit points, Santee played well down low, Matt Shaw made some shots, and everybody worked very hard with the defensive pressure. Carlon Brown has torched UNLV all season and we held him to 2 fieldgoals. Henderson only got one good shot off and Dirty Drca was a non-factor. Another performance like that should lead to a victory again tonight against the Cougars.
    LETS GO REBELS!!!!

  17. The game Tonight will be a really difficult one

  18. rose,

    jasper plays above the rim so if you consider that playing "not to get hurt again" then you belong in the same boat as go_rebels

    go_rebels,

    you are hilarious. c mon man..... jasper is soft?
    and you come to this conclusion because he is being told not to come back early.
    long story short..... jasper is far from soft.

    and now you are saying he wont be the same until after surgery... you might have had 7 surgeries but apparently you dont know much about the knee ligaments. MCL's are rarely surgically repaired for a grade 2 tear. they get the most bloodflow out of all the knee ligaments adn generally heal themselves faster withought having surgery. not to mention, the next time you see him on the floor you will see a donjoy or fusion brace on him which will totally rotect that ligament. its all on the staff and when THEY choose to let him play again. but i think it is a good thing to let him heal as much as possible because MCL's hurt during the healing proccess due to the imflamation that they have. hopefully we do not se him until tourney time.

  19. Jasper is soft and tepid. The guy is scared to play. If he had an NBA future, I could understand him being cautious. This IS his future-play. He's got the Milton Bradley disease without the crappy attitude- hypochondria.

  20. Looking forward to the doubleheader tonight.

    Side note: The quality of hoops in this conference is ridiculous considering the awful TV contract the league has in place. For kids today, being on TV is almost assumed.

  21. If only Jasper had rose's toughness.

  22. I hope they shut Fredette down!

  23. So true, MWCRob. The WCC gets its semis on ESPN, lol.

    sportsguy702, you sure seem to know a lot about medicine for saying I was BSing when I said Jasper's doctor said he wouldn't be back in 5 weeks (as was reported). I said that his doctor said 6-7 weeks and, guess what, it's been 6 and a half weeks.

  24. Dont worry about Marshall he'll get his jumper down, he had one at Mojave it will come back. Rebs will win the MWC tourney, I love it when we beat any Utah school. UNLV vs. UNM for the conference tourney title, will be a great game.

  25. I think the assumptions that Jasper is soft are a bit far-fetched. I do think he was a bit mentally rattled by this injury, having been through the same thing before with the same knee. The rotation has survived since he's been gone, especially with the emergence of Anthony. I don't think that calling him soft is right, because if he was soft, he would have never come back from the microfracture TWICE in the first place. Just saying.

  26. snyderm,

    i do know about knee ligaments, from experience.... unfortunetly.

    and as far as what you heard, i still think thats BS. just because he isnt back yet doesnt mean his doc said that. tell me who the doc was... if you are right then maybe i will believe you.

  27. Go to ESPN.com CBB home page, halfway down there is a picture of Hey Reb. Click on the pic and it takes you to a slideshow of UNLV pics. Click on pilgrimage to UNLV in the top right and there is a great article on the Rebs. Must read!!!!

    Maybe this will work?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/travel/news/st...

  28. Rebs should win tonight as long as Fredette doesn't go to the foul line 24 times like last game. As Ive said before, its ridiculous how the rules of basketball change when he touches the ball.

    Jimmer Touches the Ball= refs must give him 4 steps and a foul

  29. Dont foul fredette. He's better off missing a shot, than fouling him and getting to shoot, Let him take difficult shots and miss.

  30. Fredette is a good player and should get his. I hope we shut down Tavernari. I can't stand that guy. Go Rebs you own BYU!

  31. BYU may be UNLV's rival, but UNLV is hardly BYU's rival. UNLV will get sky high for BYU but BYU will play the way it plays against everyone, because it has to - everyone gets sky high for the Cougs. and to say this is "technically" a neutral site is to remove all illusion of credibility to this article.

  32. I don't know his doctor. As per our prior conversation, he's the one that said his doctor said 6-7 weeks.

  33. youngrebelfan40, you're totally right. I don't know why the refs seem to give Jimmer so many steps. It happens time after time...

  34. Bleedsblue way to chime in with that generic response. I could probably google it and find 200 exact matches posted by other BYU fans. If you say something enough I guess you really will begin to believe it. Whether you like it or not UNLV-BYU basketball games have become a rivalry. Maybe not in the traditional sense of a Michigan-Ohio St. rivalry, but as the top two teams in the conference over the past years the games have become a litmus test for each other and the league. Get off your high perch and enjoy being beaten yet again by UNLV.

  35. Its the biggest game of the year and the Sun does not even have a UNLV vs. BYU thread? They still have the New Mexico one. Guess Im outa here..........