REBELS BASKETBALL:

UNLV streaks past Southeastern Louisiana in final tune-up for Wisconsin, 92-56

Rebels pull away midway through Wednesday’s game then keep hallowed 3-point streak alive

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV head coach Lon Kruger talks to his team during a timeout in their game against Souteastern Louisiana Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 92-56.

UNLV vs. Southeastern Louisiana

UNLV ripped through Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday night, 92-56, and also kept its prized 3-point streak alive in the blowout. It was the final tune-up for the Rebels, who face Wisconsin at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday at 4 p.m.

UNLV vs. Southeastern Louisiana Basketball

UNLV forward Brice Massamba celebrates a play during the first half of their game against Souteastern Louisiana Wednesday, November 17, 2010. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

SE Louisiana Postgame: A quality tune-up

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down UNLV's final tune-up for Saturday's highly-anticipated game against Wisconsin — a 92-56 ripping of Southeastern Louisiana. The guys discuss, among other things, the progress of the Rebels' big men, where Tre'Von Willis fits into the rotation come this weekend and the future of freshman wing Karam Mashour.

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For the 774th time, "the streak" lived on for the UNLV men's basketball program.

But if Wednesday night's 92-56 stomping of Southeastern Louisiana was any indication of what's to come, it won't be the last time this season that the fans are sweating out keeping the Rebels' NCAA record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer made growing.

And it's not necessarily a bad thing, but rather a sign that times are simply changing.

"It's showing that we're a good team and we don't need to look for 3-pointers to win a game," junior forward Brice Massamba said. "We can just be more aggressive taking the ball to the basket, getting and-ones or to the free throw line.

"It's pretty fun."

At times in recent years, especially last season, the Rebels have had a tendency to both live and die by the 3-pointer.

On Wednesday, hitting one against the Lions became a novelty after an insurmountable lead was built by early in the second half using everything but the long ball.

Southeastern Louisiana, a scrappy veteran team that won 19 games a year ago, hung with UNLV for much of the first half by way of the trey, hitting six of them to score 18 of their first 21 points.

But with the game tied at 21-21, the tides changed.

Derrick Jasper hit a 15-foot jumper to put the Rebels ahead, and play stopped right after that. UNLV's Chace Stanback got tangled up underneath the hoop with Southeastern Louisiana's Jason Marks, things got heated and words were exchanged. Referees met at the scorer's table and watched the video replay, which showed Marks throwing an elbow at Stanback's neck. It resulted in a flagrant foul on Marks along with an ejection from the game.

Though that wasn't necessarily a visible spark for UNLV, the Rebels accelerated their pace and closed out the half from there on a 23-8 run.

The levee broke early in the second stanza, as back-to-back dunks by Anthony Marshall and Derrick Jasper helped the lead grow at a faster rate.

While the Lions continued to successfully apply defensive pressure on the perimeter, the athletic Rebel guards were able to get by and take advantage of an exposed interior with a bevy of easy buckets.

"That's a tribute to our big men, and defenses have to play us honest now," Marshall said. "It opens up lanes for everybody to drive and finish or kick it out. It's a very nice luxury to have."

It was, in fact, a nice night offensively for the Rebels' trio of big men. Carlos Lopez, Massamba and Quintrell Thomas combined for 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Massamba shone the brightest, scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including a pair of rare 15-foot jumpers. He worked on the mid-range shot all summer in an effort to expand his offensive game and contributed five rebounds and four assists.

Not long after the margin got out of hand, the focus of the 10,334 in attendance shifted to keeping the 3-point run alive.

For about the final 15 minutes of the game clock, every time the UNLV guards brought the ball across the timeline, a heavy sector of the crowd began chanting the word "three."

"We heard them," Marshall said with a grin. "They were pretty loud, also."

The guy who calmed the the fans' nerves — Stanback, from the left corner, with 7:42 left to play — wasn't aware of the "need" to keep the streak going until Massamba said something to him on the sideline.

After doing so, he pointed to the crowd, which rose in unison to its feet and provided the wildest ovation to this point in the young 2010-11 season. UNLV remains the only program to have hit a three in every game it's played since the line was introduced into college basketball before the 1986-87 season.

"It means a lot to everybody — coaches, players and fans," Stanback said. "We just want to keep that streak alive, do whatever we can to do that, but more importantly think about the game (at hand)."

Chances are that if the Rebels are mired in a similar 3-point drought come Saturday afternoon, keeping it alive will be the last thing on anyone's mind.

The two tune-ups are now out of the way, and UNLV (2-0) will host Wisconsin (2-0) in a 4 p.m. matinee — the Rebels' biggest home non-conference game of the season. The Badgers are ranked 25th in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and are just on the outside in the AP Top 25 listings.

It will be the first major test for both teams, as Bo Ryan's club blew through its first two games against Prairie View A&M (99-55) and North Dakota (85-53). Normally a defense-oriented team that wins tough, physical games by scoring in the 50s, their first two outings have shown that they will be able to match up well with the Rebels' up-and-down style and deep back-court.

That group of guards was again in fine form on Wednesday and showed that no one was specifically looking ahead to Saturday's showdown.

Well, at least not until right after the game, when Marshall and Stanback both admitted that they immediately thought of Wisconsin.

Marshall led the Rebels with 14 points, also registering five rebounds and two assists. Derrick Jasper added eight points and six boards, while Justin Hawkins was again a super-sub of sorts, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes.

And, just for fun, one streak survives to see another game.

"We felt like in the second half, we played much better than in the first half," Marshall said. "These next two days in practice, we've really got to grow as a team, get better and keep up the intensity that we had last week going into this game against a very tough opponent."

Notes

• Making his official UNLV debut days after deciding not to take a redshirt this season, 6-foot-6 wing Karam Mashour took a little while to get going. In five first-half minutes, he didn't register a stat of any kind while looking visibly nervous, especially on the defensive end. In the second half, Mashour broke the ice by hitting an awkward 10-foot jumper in the lane, then added four easy buckets while growing more and more confident as the game went on. He finished with 10 points, one rebound, two assists, two steals and a block but still has a ways to go before moving up the deep rotation of perimeter players.

• Kruger confirmed after the game that last year's leading scorer and first team All-Mountain West Conference performer Tre'Von Willis will return on Saturday against Wisconsin as a reserve, with Marshall remaining the team's starting two-guard for the time being. The senior averaged 17.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season.

• Stats of note from Wednesday night: UNLV shot 62.5 percent from the floor, hitting 35-of-56 attempts ... While the Rebels were only 1-of-8 from 3-point range, Southeastern Louisiana was 9-of-28 from deep ... Quintrell Thomas scored seven points for UNLV but fouled out after playing only eight minutes. He picked up a third foul in the first half while the Rebels had a sub waiting at the scorer's table to take him out of the game ... UNLV out-rebounded Southeastern Louisiana by a margin of 42-29 ... Trent Hutchin scored 18 points for the Lions, while Brandon Fortenberry added 16. Each of the them hit four 3-pointers.

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Previous Discussion: 14 comments so far…

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  1. I had a prior commitment so I missed the game, but sounds like it was a lot fun.

    Can't wait for the game against the home-state Badgers Saturday! GO REBELS!

  2. Two areas of concern going in to the Wisconsin game. First is the foul trouble that our bigs have been getting into. Against a very physical team, Quintrell, Brice and Carlos will need to keep from senseless, ticky tack fouls. Obviously Thomas and Lopez are inexperienced and a bit rusty so that definitely is a factor. We need their presence on the floor against the Badgers. Second is the tournovers. Through the first four games we are averaging a little over 15 turnovers per game. Against a very good defensive team like Wisconsin we cannot afford to turn it over at that rate. If we can shore that up and keep our bigs out of foul trouble I love our chances. Wisconsin will rarely see a team that has as much team quickness as the Rebs. Our athleticism should allow us to get in the open floor and make plays. Turn up the heat and make Wisconsin play fast. Great early test. Runnin' Rebels!

  3. Still a bit concerned about the number of offensive rebounds we have given up in the past two games. However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that we dominated the game and put up so many points while only jacking up 8 threes and only hitting 1! We have so many slashers and finally have bigger guys inside who can score. Its been a long time since we've been so confident in our inside game that we didn't even need to shoot the three. I like the interior defense as well. 12 blocked shots as a team is great! I'm guessing the rebounding with the big guys will get better as they get in the groove of regular game action after being out for a while. And, again, I'm jazzed that we aren't letting these lesser teams hang around as in years past. We've been missing the killer instinct for a few years, glad to see us destroying teams we should again.

  4. Great game last night! They are a fun group to watch! I agree with Mike. The Rebel's shot-blocking was impressive. Even though SE Louisiana is obviously at a different level than UNLV, they had their moments in the first half (and the Rebels responded well). When UNLV started to really pull away in the second half, the three-point situation added some drama right when the crowd started to get a little bored. I was pretty happy with the fan turnout (for a Wednesday night against a team of that caliber).

  5. I was pretty bummed out the internet radio feed was not working last night, but at least got to see the gamecast. Great game Rebels, and let's get runnin' against Wisky.

  6. ROSCO ALLEN, SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD come on down to the Thomas & Mack this Saturday. We'd love to enjoy your company and you could also catch a helluva game featuring your hometown RUNNIN' REBELS! (*cough* sign letter of intent to UNLV *cough*)

  7. Rebs did what they were suppose to do against an inferior opponent. Nice that Mashour received some minutes and played pretty well. I am still hopeful the additions of Lopez and Thomas will improve the rebounding numbers. Keeping my fingers crossed as the season goes on they get better acclimated and the numbers will improve. If not, we are going to be in some trouble against at least a few teams on the schedule.

    I am not as opptimistic about the turnover numbers. True, it is early in the season and one should expect sloppy play, but the reality is with the exception of Kevin, we haven't seen a pure quality PG on Lon's roster during his time here. Makes missing out on all of those quality PG's in the early signing period even more disappointing. It is a critical area of need for the future.

  8. @ Ernie, I completely disagree on PGs. Bellfield is exceptionally good as a PG with his outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio, and scoring ability. To compare, for fun.

    Kruger stats through 4 seasons:
    Min = 29.1, pts = 11.2, reb = 2.55, a/t = 2.05

    Bellfield stats through 3 seasons:
    Min = 26.7, pts = 9.2, reb = 2.6, a/t = 2.11

    So pretty similar stats throughout...

  9. I was disappointed to see Quintrell Thomas lose control of his mental and physical discipline last night. Stepping off the curb to play with the style of your opponents in the street wins you nothing more than a quick whistle, a long term image problem with the zebras and appropriate time on the bench. It must not be our style of play.

  10. Pretty good evidence. I too like Oscar and think he is as good a point guard as there is in the MWC and maybe the west coast. He can make the open jumper, penetrate to score or dish, does not make silly mistakes, is difficult to press, and defends his position well. For someone who did not come in very heralded, he has far exceeded expectations. I do belive that the turnover situation will improve. However, for the longest time one of my wishes is for UNLV to get back to being the Runnin' Rebels and get games in the high 80's - 90's. That is precisely why I began to love the Rebels many years ago. This style does lead to more turnovers so I can live with it if we continue to play fast and avoid turnovers in critical situations during the game. Coach Kruger's teams have always been among the best in the nation when it comes to turnovers so I am confident he will get it sorted out. Runnin' Rebels!

  11. "The levee broke early in the second stanza..." Not the best sentence to use for a team from Louisiana. To soon Ryan, too soon lol.

  12. Oy, thanks for pointing that out, yellow. Honestly, I hadn't even thought of that. Eek. My bad.

  13. @sofaking, I am excluing Kruger's time at ASU. Didn't see him play nearly as much of course at ASU as I did at UNLV. I do recall he was on some pretty bad teams during his time there. Also, my main point is I think quality PG play was one of the big reasons behind the sweet 16 run so I am comparing the quality of play that season to the other play we have seen at the positon during Kruger's time here.

    With this said, Kruger's season at UNLV saw him average 13.5 ppg, 5.1 assists. Bellfield on the other hand has averaged 7.9 ppg and 4.1 apg so far. Rebounding is virtually identical. Furthermore, and this is critical in regards to turnovers; Kruger's assist to turnover ratio was 2.6/1, while Bellfield's so far is 2.18/1. That is a pretty good difference in that area.

    I'll give the nod to Bellfield in terms of being able to create his own shot, but seeing I view him more of a two guard he should be better in that area. On the other hand, while it is hard to quantify in terms of statistics, I think Kruger did a better job in terms of running a half-court offense. He always seemed to be able to get players in the right position, and adjust if the initial play was not there. I haven't seen that nearly as much from Bellfield so far.

    Oscar of course still has a couple of seasons to improve so maybe he will be the answer at PG (hope so), but my gut instinct is somewhat skeptical he can take his game to a higher level as point guard.

    On a side note, and it may not matter, but Cesar Guerrero never sent his LOI to Western Kentucky according to ESPN recruiting.

  14. The Mountain West Getting some love from CBS Sports' front page story.

    http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketba...