Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010 | 2:14 a.m.
- Box Score: UNLV 68, Wisconsin 65
- Hawkins has final say in UNLV’s 68-65 triumph over Wisconsin
- Notebook: First half a trial by fire for Lopez
- Instant Analysis: Rebels gain victory, invaluable experience against Wisconsin
- Live Game Blog: Hawkins saves the day as UNLV hangs on for 68-65 victory over Wisconsin
- 2010-11 UNLV Schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
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Ryan Greene and Case Keefer take a closer look at a grinder of a 68-65 win for the UNLV men's basketball team on Saturday afternoon at home against Wisconsin. It was far from pretty, but the Rebels improved to 3-0 and now have a few days off before the start of the 76 Classic on Thanksgiving night. The guys take a look at the struggles of UNLV's big men, the defensive prowess of Justin Hawkins, the offensive heroics of Chace Stanback and assess Tre'Von Willis's return from a 4-game suspension.
The Badgers desperately tried to get the ball to senior forward Jon Leuer on an inbounds play from behind the basket with eight seconds remaining. Justin Hawkins made sure that failed when he stepped in front of the bounce pass from Mike Bruesewitz for a steal.
“We certainly weren’t looking for what we got,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “That’s not what we talked about in the huddle. The young man feels badly about it, but you can’t get the pass back.”
The Badgers had a tough time getting production from their standout throughout the entire game. The Rebels keyed their defensive game plan around stopping Leuer, who led the Badgers in scoring last season and averaged 23 points in their first two wins this year.
UNLV held Leuer to 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting. Wisconsin found it difficult to respond to their leader’s struggles.
“They rattled us,” Wisconsin sophomore Ryan Evans said. “They took us out of our offense.”
UNLV’s defensive pressure forced Wisconsin to shoot only 36 percent from the field. No one on the Badgers' offense established any consistency.
Although Jordan Taylor exploded for 16 points in the first half, UNLV held him to a single three-pointer in the second half.
Leuer went 2-for-7 in the second half and missed a jumper before the failed inbounds play at a critical moment in the game.
“Jon had a couple shots, maybe two of them were forced, but he had some open looks,” Ryan said. “They made him work, but we had other guys who were open and had stare-down shots. I’d love to have those again.”
Evans, who had 11 points and six rebounds off the bench, said he was disappointed no one else on the team emerged as the go-to option against UNLV.
“Doubling John and making it tough on him, that’s when us surrounding players need to pick up the slack,” Evans said. “We need to help out that way. We need to learn from that and that will be good for us.”
Ryan and Evans had no complaints with the team’s defensive effort. They wanted to limit penetration and make UNLV settle for jumpers and three-point shots.
The Badgers were able to accomplish that, but the Rebels were red-hot from three and went 9-for-18 on the afternoon.
“If you watch their other games, they destroyed people going to the rim,” Ryan said. “We took that away. I was really proud of the job our guys did there.”
UNLV was able to overcome Wisconsin taking away its strength. Wisconsin couldn’t do the same.
Without Leuer, the Wisconsin offense stumbled through a frustrating game and committed 15 turnovers. But the Badgers were still in it at the end — until they couldn’t find Leuer one more time.
“We passed to the wrong colored jerseys,” Ryan said. “That’s how I saw it.”