UNLV basketball:

Anthony Marshall closes out UNLV’s narrow victory

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Sam Morris

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall runs into a screen set by University of Texas El Paso center John Bohannon, and picks up a foul, while guarding Michael Perez during their game Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 65-54.

UNLV overcomes slow start to beat UTEP

University of Texas El Paso guard Michael Perez finds himself surrounded by UNLV players during the first half of their game Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

UNLV beats UTEP

KSNV coverage of the Runnin' Rebels taking on the University of Texas El Paso basketball team, Dec. 14, 2011.

The Rebel Room

Rebel Room postgame edition — Rebels struggle early, but down UTEP

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Las Vegas Sun reporters Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer break down the UNLV basketball team's 65-54 victory against UTEP. The Rebels started slow and struggled with their shooting all night, but were too much for an inexperienced UTEP squad down the stretch.

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall finally broke through with 5 minutes, 5 seconds left in the game. And then he kept going.

In the first half Wednesday, the UTEP defenders left him open along the perimeter.

“They were daring Anthony to shoot,” Rebels coach Dave Rice said.

The junior Las Vegas native responded with an airball among his four missed 3-pointers in the first half. His confidence shaken but not shattered, Marshall kept firing when he had an open look. As the final five minutes approached with the game still very much in doubt, Marshall connected.

In the final 5:05, he scored 10 points, leading the Rebels with 20 points for the game as they held off the Miners 65-54 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Marshall’s first made 3-pointer put UNLV up by four. And that’s as close as UTEP would get the rest of the game.

After a few free throws, Marshall hit another 3-pointer from the top of the key that pushed the lead to eight. And on the following possession, after UTEP made two free throws, he made another jump shot.

Three shots, all taken with the confidence that everyone on his team believed they would go in.

“We want him to play with confidence,” Rice said. “I believe that if we didn’t continue to instill that confidence in him, he wouldn’t have made those three big baskets down the stretch. … Those are three game-winning plays that he made.”

Marshall punctuated his late-game surge with a dunk in the closing seconds that capped off all the scoring. He enjoyed the finish even more since it came after the Miners’ disrespected him by purposefully leaving him wide open.

“As a player, I felt that,” Marshall said. “… I came up with the shots.”

Most of the Rebels eventually came up with shots.

Chace Stanback, the team’s leading scorer entering the game, hit a 3-pointer in the second half and finished with five points. Mike Moser got a couple of second-half putbacks and finished with six points to go with his game-high 11 rebounds.

Once again, UNLV proved to be a second-half team, with the exceptions of Justin Hawkins and Carlos Lopez, who were consistent the entire game as they combined for 23 points.

Occasionally lackadaisical and simply off-the-mark in the opening 20 minutes, the Rebels came out of the break and shot 57 percent from the floor and attempted 17 more free throws than they had in the first half.

If the slow starts aren’t a Rebel problem, which they may very well be, then UNLV could once again point to the opponents’ tempo as the culprit.

“It’s a sign of respect when a team that has as good of players as UTEP has comes in and holds the ball for 30 seconds per possession,” Rice said. “It puts tremendous pressure on our defense.”

The defense held up. UNLV forced 20 turnovers and kept UTEP under 42 percent shooting for the game, including just 1-for-10 behind the 3-point line.

The problem was that by the time the Rebels got the ball after playing defense, often for as long as 30 seconds before the Miners’ took a shot, they were too excited and either shot too soon or pushed too fast and turned it over.

“Especially me,” Marshall said. “I had some key turnovers that were really forced.”

Rice agreed.

“We need to be more patient on the offensive end,” Rice said. “Doesn’t mean we need to play slower, but we need to be more patient. … Sometimes we settle for the first open shot.”

Finding the balance between patience and pace is something UNLV will likely have to figure out throughout this season. Three out of the last four opponents have taken the Rebels out of their style, and now there’s a lot of tape for future opponents to study on how to do exactly the same thing.

The Rebels may get a break from these tempo nightmares on Saturday against Illinois, which also likes to get out and run a bit. Of course, after seeing how much the Rebels have struggled in slow games, the Illini may go with a similar tactic.

If they do, it’s not going to be enough for Marshall to swoop in and save the day in the final minutes.

“We’re just going to have to learn how to play these games, because it seems like teams are really concerned about our offensive transition,” Rice said. “So we’re just going to have to guard for longer possessions.”

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

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  1. Not pretty, but still a much needed win. Big road test coming up, would love to see this team grow by pulling off a tough one on the road.

  2. Great grind it out win. UTEP is going to get better and better as the year progresses. I am looking forward to the Rebels making another great statement against Illinois on Saturday. I expect a emphatic win; not only to boost our respect for this year but for a little pay back from last year.
    REBELS REBELS REBELS UNLV GO FIGHT WIN!!

  3. Ugly game. In the post game interview Dave Rice said they had watched tape on Utep and every other game they had played "real basketball". He quickly corrected himself, but I thought it was a funny moment of candor.

    That said, It was pretty obvious that the Rebels couldn't find a comfortable rhythm in the first half with Utep holding the ball for 20-30 seconds on each possession. I would like to see more control and patience from Oscar at the point; he really needs to work on setting the pace of the game, but overall they did what they needed to do. A nice game from Marshall, JHawk, and Lopez. Moser was a beast on the boards as always. Good win, good luck in Illinois!

  4. Good win against UTEP. Their star player was out for the first 3-4 games or so I read before, and since he came back, they won the last 2. Got some key turnovers on them and picked up the pace for the win. Good job fellas.

  5. Always nice to pick up a win but I believe this team is going to be up and down just like the last few years because of one simple factor. No offensive post presence. We have no one who can command double teams and force teams to collapse giving our shooters easy looks. We are totally dependent on drive and kick and scoring in the open floor. When teams bog us down (USC, Wich St, Wisc, & UTEP) we struggle mightily. The great teams we had in the past had players like Armen Gilliam, Richie Adams, Sidney Green,David Butler, Larry Johnson, and Elmore Spencer. Players that could draw a double team and/or make plays to score and draw fouls inside. Coach Rice needs to focus with his final two scholarships on a physical post player that can score. Massamba, and Thomas are physical but have no offensive game and Carlos is skilled but is weaker than just about any post player he comes up against. He would be wonderful at the high post dumping it down to a power player with his great passing. To me it does not matter if the kid is a top 100 guy, get a juco player if need be (since most players mentioned above were jucos). But until we add that weapon to our arsenal we will continue to be streaky and for every big win we snag we will suffer some unlikely losses due to our one dimensional team. Love the looks our of class for next year but none will have the impact that a strong scoring low post threat will have. Runnin' Rebels!