UNLV basketball:

Rebels fail to seize opportunity in Wisconsin loss

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Sam Morris

UNLV head coach Dave Rice looks down while walking along the bench during their game against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011. Wisconsin won the game 62-51, dropping UNLV to 9-2 on the season.

Rebels lose to Wisconsin

KSNV coverage of UNLV men's basketball game at Wisconsin, Dec. 10, 2011.

UNLV vs. Wisconsin Basketball

UNLV head coach Dave Rice looks down while walking along the bench during their game against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011. Wisconsin won the game 62-51, dropping UNLV to 9-2 on the season. Launch slideshow »

MADISON, Wisc. — Dave Rice called a timeout with 3:47 left in Saturday’s game at Wisconsin.

As bad as his team had played — UNLV gave up a 13-0 first-half run and had no offensive rebounds in the first 29 minutes — the Rebels trailed by just eight after Justin Hawkins hit a 3-pointer from the corner.

Somehow, they still had a chance. But multiple game-long mistakes and 25 points off the bench from the Badgers’ Ben Brust were too much to overcome.

The next four possessions sealed UNLV’s fate in a 62-51 loss at No. 14 Wisconsin, and the failures that landed the Rebels in a double-digit hole for much of the game were on display in those sequences.

“Playing against a team like Wisconsin, when you get down double digits, everything has to go almost perfectly down the stretch to have a chance to win the game,” Rice said. “… It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if we had gotten it down to six.”

Here’s what happened:

Coming out of the timeout, the Badgers worked the clock down with their signature swing offense. The lack of urgency wasn’t because they were playing with a lead so much as it was just the Badgers playing how they wanted.

With a few exceptions, Wisconsin kept the pace of the game excruciatingly slow. During the Badgers’ offensive possessions, the Kohl Center often quieted to a hush, as if the fans were there to hear a lecture rather than watch basketball.

After taking 30 seconds off the clock, Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren missed a 3-pointer and Mike Moser grabbed the rebound.

Moser, who’s dealing with a sprain to his right wrist, had struggled all game to assert himself on the offensive end. He didn’t score his first points (on a dunk) until seven minutes into the second half and finished with just four. But as he had done much of the game, Moser kept pushing forward, dribbling down the court and attacking the rim.

He missed the layup. And then another one.

“We probably missed more layups than we’ve missed in any single game this season,” Rice said.

All six Rebels who attempted more than one shot inside the three-point line were likely guilty of at least one missed layup. Comebacks are difficult, but rarely more so than when you can’t hit shots within four feet of the basket.

“We were missing wide-open shots, open layups,” said Chace Stanback, who was the only Rebel to score in double digits with 16 points. “Those are the plays you have to convert on if we want to win games.”

The one thing that went right in that sequence was that Moser gave himself a chance at a second shot by grabbing an offensive rebound.

The final rebounding tally looked even — Wisconsin 34, UNLV 32 — but at halftime the Badgers were dominating the glass, especially offensively. At the break, the offensive rebounding numbers and second-chance points were identical: Wisconsin 9, UNLV 0.

“I thought our guys did a real good job of getting bodies on people,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.

UNLV adjusted at halftime and improved for the rest of the game.

However, the Rebels’ lack of offensive boards — Carlos Lopez grabbed the Rebels’ first offensive rebound with 10:25 remaining in the game — could most readily be contributed to lack of effort. For the second straight road game, UNLV came out flat and it resulted in a deficit they couldn’t overcome.

“We definitely came out with a lack of energy,” Moser said. “I wouldn’t say what it contributed to, but we just didn’t have it in the first half.”

Of course, Wisconsin played a role in that. Ryan said he was impressed by his players’ ability to react and recover in time to contest shots.

“They’re doing some things where they’re at least making it tough for the other team to get comfortable,” Ryan said. “That’s the main thing.”

Back to the pivotal possessions.

Wisconsin grabbed the rebound after Moser’s second miss and, following the final media timeout, the Badgers again worked the clock before a missed a 3-pointer.

This time it was Jordan Taylor with the miss. He finished 0-for-10 from the field, including 0-of-6 from the three-point line.

If any Rebel fan knew that would be Taylor’s stat line in this game, they would have been planning for a celebration. But who could have predicted Brust’s outburst.

After the Taylor miss, Moser grabbed his 11th rebound. UNLV still had hope. But as Moser tried to attack once again, he turned it over.

And three seconds later came Brust’s ill-advised dagger.

“I didn’t hesitate,” Brust said. “I probably should’ve.”

Brust was well beyond the three-point line when Ryan Evans, who stole the ball from Moser, flipped him a pass. Instead of setting up the offense and running down the clock, Brust pulled up over a small crowd of players who were fighting for the ball and drilled his seventh 3-pointer.

Just like Wichita State’s Joe Ragland, Brust killed the Rebels from deep and sent them home with questions left to answer.

“It’s inexcusable. It’s my fault,” Rice said. “… I need to make better adjustments.”

The Rebels felt they had made the proper adjustments from the Wichita State game. This loss proved otherwise.

Now they start back at square one.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Those missed layups really hurt.

  2. Corn fed White boys are hard to beat.

  3. What a frustrating game. Almost an instant replay of last week - letting one guy take over from the 3 pt. line and lack of energy (which bewilders me). If someone told me at the start of the year that the Rebels would be 9-2 with losses at Wich and Wisc at this point I would be satisfied. But with the way these two losses occurred am I actually worried. I feel like they are at a crossroad where the season can be a great success or can go the other direction. My fingers are crossed.

  4. All the blame should be put on Belfied he single handedly ruin unlv's offense.

  5. While witchita state just beat the crap out of UNLV, this game was lost due to UNLV's poorest showing of the year. The only reason it wasn't a 30 point loss was because Wisconsin was playing pretty terribly as well, other than one guy obviously. Oscar was having trouble all night with decision making (probably some credit should go to Wisconsin's D) and Moser was clearly not himself (possibly tentative with his wrist injury). A couple other things I didn't like were Massamba's extended minutes, mainly because Lopez was playing well on offense and defense while in the game, and the gaping hole left on the floor where Anthony Marshall was supposed to be. UNLV really needed guard play against this tough defense and just didn't get it.

    Stanback was consistent as always but probably could have used more shots.

    It was an overall ugly game minus the silly 3 point shooting from the Wisconsin kid. I hope the Rebels can turn around and beat up on Utep at home, then hopefully Reggie Smith can add an offensive spark against Illinois. 9-2 through this ridiculous schedule is nothing to be ashamed of, they just need to keep their heads up and focus on the next game.

  6. While I do not think that 9-2 at this point in the season is bad at all, it is a little tough not to overreact after the way UNLV has played the last couple of games. Allowing two guys to go a combined 15-16 from the three point line is ridiculous. This team is having all sorts of problems guarding people. That Wisconsin team is most likely the most unathletic and perhaps one of the least talented teams we will face and they got just about every shot they wanted. I really like the fact that we are a more potent offensive team(despite today's performance)but we must improve a ton on the defensive end. You cannot win games against good teams when you guard like that.

  7. Reggie can't get eligible soon enough

  8. This game was like watching glimpses of last season when we couldn't hit a shot to save our lives. Hopefully this game is where it ends. Credit Wisconsin for making UNLV play their game and better decision-making and rebounding on offense. It's obvious Moser isn't himself right now, and Bellfield, while I admire his leadership skills, needs to know that if the shots aren't falling he has to try to contribute in other ways. He was making some bad decisions with his shooting. On the positive side, Stanback was looking pretty good and our bigs were looking a lot stronger and aggressive compared to the WSU game. Massamba and Lopez I thought both looked good, and when our guards started penetrating and dishing the ball we were looking good to, except we couldn't hit a damn layup.

    I thought All in all we should be fine with a little better decision making by both our players and coaches. We need to adjust our style when we play a team that adjusts the tempo like Wisconsin did today.

  9. It wasn't pretty...

    But then again, who really thought they'd win AT Wisconsin?
    Losses in Madison by the Home Hoopsters is as rare as Sobriety @ UW.

  10. The Sports Illustrated jinx strikes again.........
    I think we are all hoping Reggie is the "real deal", we need a lift right now.

  11. Enough already. Reggie and eligibility, are you serious? This is why UNLV will never be a contender with players others don't want and those who simply are not student athletes. It is time for the fans on Maryland Pkwy. to settle down and accept the fact thier team is not a contender and can not compete with proven programs day in and day out. Basketball is a different game on any given day a great team can go flat, that by no means makes the team that beat them good or even great.

  12. Homer way off base...we got some really good kids and a new coach the boys are at 9-2 we've received more national press in the last month then we have in the last 2 years. There are over 300 D1 schools and were in the top 10 percent, we do and can compete whith anybody. I believe it was a total of 11 losses at home Wisconsin has over the last 10 years. They run an offense that is not easy to duplicate in practice which favors them doing regular season but when they are on a nuetral court come tourney time we crush them check your facts!