UNLV basketball:

UNLV doesn’t match Wichita State’s energy in loss

Rebels defense fails to put clamps on Shockers’ hot-shooting point guard

Image

Associated Press

UNLV guard Chase Stanback (22) attempts to score against Wichita State guard Joe Ragland (1) during the first half of their basketball game Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, in Wichita, Kan. UNLV lost 89-70.

WICHITA, Kan. — UNLV is all out of surprises.

Once you knock off the No. 1 team in the country, the days of sneaking up on an opponent are over. Instead, you get their maximum effort, something the Rebels weathered against UC Santa Barbara but looked ill prepared for in Sunday’s 89-70 loss at Wichita State.

“It’s really important for us to learn that part of the responsibility that goes with starting out 8-0 and being ranked is that we’re going to get everyone’s best shot,” coach Dave Rice said. “And we certainly got that today.”

The Shockers (5-2), and the raucous home crowd at Koch Arena, started the game full of energy and the 18th-ranked Rebels (8-1) simply couldn’t keep up.

After going toe-to-toe in the opening minutes, the Rebels fell silent — going nearly a full eight minutes without a made basket — while the Shockers, and specifically guard Joe Ragland, got loud. Ragland hit two three-pointers during the stretch and another just seconds after Justin Hawkins finally ended UNLV’s drought.

Ragland was a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range at halftime and finished with a game- and career-high 31 points, including eight three-pointers.

“They got anything and everything they wanted,” Rice said.

The outburst could be traced to a miscommunication of the scouting report.

Asked for the preview on Ragland, the first word Rice said was, “shooter.”

However, guard Anthony Marshall, one of the primary Rebels charged with containing Ragland, said he was expecting more of a driver.

Either way, nothing worked.

“We were making mistakes on the defensive end,” said guard Chace Stanback, who led the Rebels with 16 points. “We weren’t on the same page.”

Said Rice, “One of the things we’ve been able to count on all season long is defensive execution, and it was a big problem for us today.”

Wichita State forward Carl Hall also presented problems in the paint, working over and through anyone that UNLV put on him. Hall finished with 17 points and center Garrett Stutz also had a decent game with 13 points in 22 minutes.

Despite all of the problems and a 15-point halftime deficit, Rice said he felt the game was still very much in reach. After all, just a few days earlier the coach lauded his team’s performances in the second half.

But the adjustments this time weren’t nearly enough, as Ragland continued to drill three-pointers.

“We dug ourselves into a really deep hole at halftime, but yet still had confidence coming out and executed well on the offensive end,” Rice said, “we just could not get a stop to start the second half.”

Another inhibition to the Rebels’ comeback attempt was fouls. Wichita State was in the bonus less than eight minutes into the second half and took seven more attempts at the free-throw line than in the first.

Throughout the game, Wichita State kept Mike Moser (12 points, seven rebounds) in check and challenged UNLV more aggressively than it has seen this season.

And the Shockers also kept the Runnin’ Rebels from living up to their name.

“It’s hard getting a run going against these guys just because they play so slow,” Moser said. “Free throws, fouls, just slowing the game down. … Everything just went so slow.”

It’s only one game and as far as losses go it’s not a bad one. Wichita State will likely contend for the Missouri Valley Conference title and should join UNLV in the NCAA Tournament.

UNLV won’t win many games in which it gives up 59 percent shooting, so the improvements have to start on the defensive end.

Rice said he’s made an effort lately to improve the team’s three-point defense, and after Sunday that effort will likely get shifted into overdrive.

Closing out on shooters more quickly yet under control and keeping hands up to contest shots are at the top of the list.

And now that opponents see how UNLV responds to a slow tempo, the Rebels will need a counter for that, too.

Technical adjustments aside, the disconcerting thing about the game for fans and the team has to be the lack of effort. Rice called his team out on it and, for the most part, they agreed.

“They definitely came out harder than we did,” Moser said.

Said Rice, “Without question they had more energy than we had today. And what the reason is, we could all speculate on that.”

Travel could be part of it, as could playing in a difficult environment. Trouble is, UNLV only has a week to figure out and correct it. Cal State San Marcos comes to the Orleans Arena on Wednesday, and then Saturday is another trip to the Midwest at No. 9 Wisconsin.

And Madison will be just as energized as Wichita. It’s up to UNLV to match it.

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  1. Lost to who? If thats not a b~slap reality check I dont know what is. Mean while SDSU won and will be ranked to 20.

  2. Lost to whom?* (Grammar reality check)

  3. A little too much travel, little too much relief from practice, a lot of overconfidence, Wichita State shooting lights out, add it all up and you get a blowout loss. A little introspection and return to hard work in practice might bring the focus back. This road gets no easier against the Badgers and Illini, so we do have some chances at redemption.

  4. Who cares about SDSU?

    This is one game. The national championship team of 1990 lost one game. To Santa Barbara.

    Next.

  5. Wichita State simply shot more 3 pointers and were more intense. That's easy when you are on your home court. Hopefully UNLV will put it behind them and focus on the next opponent.

  6. We looked tired. Not to mention, just plain out of sync. But that's bound to happen every now and then. While I'd love a perfect win season, let's face it, that wasn't going to happen. We lost, it's one game. Hopefully the Cal State game will bring back the confidence we need. Then we can focus on the next game. Besides, they were shooting lights out. Not much you can do about that. We should bounce back and be ready for Wisconsin. Go Rebs!!!!

  7. UNLV looked a little tired on defense, not surprising with the schedule they've been playing. Couple that with the kid from Wichita State channeling Reggie Miller, and UNLV really had no chance. They weren't going to go undefeated though, so they just need to put this game behind them and focus on the next game.

  8. I just kept waiting for the energy to shift in our favor and it never did. Wichita State was the better team tonight and they deserve the win. Although it is never a good thing to lose, this relieves a bit of the pressure that was on our back. Get the losses out of the way and put them behind you Rebs.

    SDSU will not be ranked as they lost to Creighton earlier this week at home and UNLV may be on the outside of the rankings looking in yet again. Tough loss but it's a good learning experience for them.

  9. where's the dude that predicted the double digit win? Tough game for the Rebels. Let's bounce back

  10. "it's only one game and as far as losses go it's not a bad one."

    sorry, but that's retarded. i can't really envision a scenario in which we get HOUSED by 19 while giving up 89 and it's "not a bad" loss, particularly in light the lethargic defensive effort and physical domination our big men got AGAIN. tired legs, rough schedule.....boo hoo. we're not the only ones with either of those problems.

    i'm by no means giving up on this team, and i think they've got potential, but they have to learn to get a little mean and give as good as they get physically. somehow they need to get a bit of a chip on their shoulders. maybe moses scurry and david butler wouldn't mind coming on board as "consultants" and teaching them a thing or two in that department.

  11. Bless them all! So cool!

  12. adrock,

    If you had any rational view of basketball then you would realize your comments are seriously over the top. It is near impossible to bring the same level of play to every single game, which is why even the best teams usually don't go undefeated. Sometimes you run into a team that shoots 50% from 3, similarly to how we shot against UNC, and you just can't match it.

    Overall, we didn't play our best game, but it wasn't a terrible performance either. The difference in score was just the incredible individual performance by Ragland.

  13. Tough loss, but many of us saw it coming. Our defense was very out of sync, moreso than any other time I can remember in recent memory (even last season). We couldn't get running because we didn't get many turnovers. Wichita does not turn the ball over much, and neither does upcoming Wisconsin. Good defense translates to easy offense.

    Ragland absolutely shot the lights out though. That kid couldn't miss, and it was in a sold out arena where the team wins 3/4 of their games. Lots of bad things to take away from that game, but there were some upsides like Massamba's play early, and our shot selection wasn't terrible (we just weren't making as many).

  14. UNLV_123--
    if you had any reading comprehension ability, you would see that i didn't say we should never lose, merely that this loss was not as insignificant as some commenters and the writer of this article would have us believe. comparing our performance at wichita to UNC's against us actually illustrates my point. does anyone really think the tar heels couldn't have given a better effort than they did? does anyone think we couldn't have shown better effort against the shockers? you think we made proper adjustments on ragland in the second half and he simply proved impervious to any containment? how about the fact that their forwards owned ours? if you think this was a fluke and that massamba and lopez have the requisite toughness not to be repeatedly backed down and scored upon by better-than-average big men for the rest of the season, hey great; i hope you're right. i guess time will tell. i won't, however, indulge this pollyanna-ish fantasy that being manhandled in a manner reminiscent of the illinois game last season (among other recent examples over the last 5-6 seasons) is "not a bad loss". it was a bad loss. how they respond will let us know whether the team and coaches understand that.

  15. Oh man, check out the image of Lopez on ESPN's mbb frontpage. Ouch. http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketba...

  16. Wow, it was one loss! They are doing incredibly well, this is a new program, they were in an awful place to play, and 1 lucky guy sank 8 3s, when he had only shot 5 ALL YEAR! Our Rebs are in excellent shape, but I seriously doubt that anyone could sustain the intensity that they have been playing with every minute of every game, all season long. After the next two weeks, their schedule will probably seem less physically demanding to them (and by no means am I discounting our MW competitors), and having Reggie in there will give them a timely boost. They're still awesome, I can't wait for their next home game. Go Rebs! LET'S RUN!

  17. adrock,
    It was an insignificant loss, and it won't show up as a bad loss in the tournament resume at the end of the year. You can point out flaws all day and night, but they probably won't be relevant next game, just like they weren't relevant in the previous game. Players and coaches are not robots and they have good games and bad games. The quality of a team rests in the entire body of work for the season. Wait until March to start pointing out where UNLV went wrong, and let the coaches deal with it until then.

    I understand that a majority of Rebel fans are fair weather fans, so most point out the sky is falling after every hiccup throughout the season. We will look forward to more of it from you.

  18. Well said, UNLV-123. You can't expect a player that hit five 3-pointers combined in his teams first six games, and whose career high in over three years of college basketball was 15 points to go 8 for 9 from deep and score 31 points. Did the Rebels adjust well to his hot hand? No, obviously not, and that's why they lost by 19 points. It happens. It's one game, now let's correct the mistakes and move on.

    And for those of you that have very flawed memories of the 1990 national championship team, let me clear up a couple of facts that I remember well. In the semi-finals of the preseason NIT that year, the #1 ranked Rebels got destroyed by unranked Kansas on a neutral court, probably even worse than Wichita St. beat the Rebels yesterday. By the end of the year, we all know how the Rebels did, and Kansas lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. In fact, that great Rebel team lost 5 games that year, including at UC Santa Barbara, who was a good team but not a great team. The Rebels had several close wins that year in addition to the 5 losses, including a 2-point win over Ball St. in the Sweet 16. They were by no means unbeatable. It was the year after they won the national championship that the Rebels had what I believe is the greatest college basketball team of all time. And yet that team played its worst game of the year at the wrong time and lost to Duke in the Final 4. Finally, just to put a capper on this, the 1989 Rebel team, the last team to beat a #1 ranked team when they beat Arizona in the Sweet 16, followed that win by getting blown out by Seton Hall in the Elite 8 game. I think we shot like 30% that game. It's basketball. It happens. How the Rebels react to the loss is what counts the most. A win at Wisconsin on Saturday and this Wichita St. loss is all but forgotten.

  19. 123--
    "fairweather"? listen dude, you may want to lump me in with sufferinsuccotash and canes4life simply because i refuse to be all gumdrops and teddy bears about this loss, but you don't know d*ck. i've hung in with this team since the late 70s through all of the success and the turmoil, so pardon me if i don't feel like i have to qualify my fan cred to you before i voice my concern. is this loss significant from a tournament selection perspective? not by itself, no. i also don't believe i ever framed it that way. way to move the goalposts from what the original point was. my statement was simple; they didn't give the effort they're capable of giving and this loss isn't one to just shrug your shoulders about. i certainly don't recall saying that they're robots who never have letdowns, i said they got outworked and out-toughed and THAT'S why it's significant. if you'd like to address those comments, have at it. disagree with me? cool, i don't have a problem with that. but i'm a fairweather fan or i don't know anything about basketball? really? nana boo boo is your response? jesus, some of you santa claus-believers just can't handle anybody pointing out that we may, perhaps, just need to temper our expectations a bit regarding the rest of the schedule. they're a very good team and they're going in the right direction. if things break right, they could be back to some semblance of their former glory in the near future. but don't be such sorority sisters about someone pointing out that they're not the most bestest specialest wonderfulest team in the whole wide world right this second.

  20. Adrock,

    I'll take the fact that you are so mad to mean I struck a nerve. There must have been some truth to my comments. We'll just leave it at that.

  21. 123--
    ah, the old "you got mad so i win" gambit. touche, sir. well-played. not one to let specious reasoning get in the way of positive self-affirmation, i see. in light of your rhetorical suit of armor, i guess we can just leave it at that. you are burr, and i am merely hamilton.

    now that's sarcasm!