LIVE GAME BLOG: Final:

Big men rule in UNLV’s 67-54 rout of Utah at the Mack

Thomas’s 16 rebounds a career-high, most by a Rebel since Amundson’s 21 in 05-06 season

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Sam Morris

UNLV guard Chace Stanback blocks a shot by Utah guard Chris Kupets during the first half of their game Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 | 9:36 p.m.

UNLV vs. Utah Basketball

UNLV guard Chace Stanback blocks a shot by Utah guard Chris Kupets during the first half of their game Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

Final, UNLV wins 67-54

UNLV's Quintrell Thomas and Carlos Lopez, it appears, were just giving onlookers a taste during a big second half last Tuesday at Wyoming.

The duo combined for 29 points and 25 rebounds in the Rebels' 67-54 victory over the Utes on Wednesday night at the Mack, improving Lon Kruger's club to 17-5 overall and 5-3 at the mid-way point in Mountain West Conference play.

For Thomas, the 15 points and 16 rebounds were both career-highs, and it was his first career double-double. The 16 caroms were the most by a Rebel in a single game since Lou Amundson had 21 in the 2005-06 season. Lopez had 14 points and nine rebounds off of the bench. UNLV was without junior center Brice Massamba, who was sick and didn't come back out from the locker room after the half.

It made up for an off-night from the UNLV back-court. Chace Stanback scored 11 points, while Oscar Bellfield, Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield were a combined 5-of-25 from the floor.

Utah was led by junior Will Clyburn, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The Rebels play at 1 p.m. Saturday against BYU up in Provo.

For full postgame coverage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

11:54, Second Half, UNLV leads 46-31

Quintrell Thomas is now up to 15 points and 14 rebounds as UNLV continues to hold Utah off at a distance at the Mack, and now Carlos Lopez is eyeing a double-double of his own.

The freshman big man is up to 11 points and eight rebounds with 12 minutes left to play as the Rebels lead 46-31.

Lopez came off of the bench early in the half, hit a mid-range jumper, scored on an inside move against David Foster, then scored an and-one bucket that got the crowd going nuts moments later. He's enjoying every moment of it, yucking it up with the fans after each score.

For those wondering about Brice Massamba, the junior never played in the first half and I'm being told is sick tonight. He didn't come out of the locker room at the half, and I assume he went home early.

The Rebels' guards are still struggling to score, and Anthony Marshall is still scoreless, but the Rebels are making do without that production tonight. Marshall, before the latest media break, dove over the scorer's table and took out a cameraman on a hustle play that earned him high praise from the crowd.

Halftime, UNLV leads 33-24

It's Quintrell Thomas Night at the Mack. Plain and simple.

The sophomore forward has 13 points and 12 rebounds at the half, as the UNLV offense is effectively working inside-out yet again, and the Rebels lead visiting Utah at the break, 33-24.

Thomas is just 4-of-12 from the floor, but 5-of-5 from the line and is staying aggressive at all times. He has six offensive boards and six more on the other end.

The big man rotation is the story tonight, as junior Brice Massamba didn't come off of the bench in the first half. Instead, Carlos Lopez played eight minutes behind Thomas, scoring five points and grabbing six boards of his own.

The UNLV guards didn't register a point until Tre'Von Willis hit a close-range jumper with seven minutes left in the half. As a team, the Rebels are just 11-of-33 from the floor, but the defense on the other end is helping lead the way, as Utah isn't getting many clean looks and is only 9-of-31 from the field and 3-of-13 from deep.

UNLV is out-rebounding Utah 24-22, which was a major concern coming in give Utah's distinct size advantage. Instead, 7-foot-3 David Foster, in 15 minutes, only has four rebounds.

Evening things out a bit offensively is Chace Stanback, who has nine points and the Rebels' only two 3-pointers.

This game should be pretty comfortable the rest of the way for UNLV. But it will be interesting to see what Thomas's final line ends up looking like.

11:21, First Half, game tied 12-12

UNLV's guards still have yet to score a point more than eight minutes into the game, but it's hardly been crippling for the Rebels.

Sophomore big man Quintrell Thomas picked up where he left off last Tuesday at Wyoming, scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds in a four-minute stretch to open up the game.

Carlos Lopez spelled him off of the bench and has been equally strong on the boards.

UNLV is showing no hesitation in terms of going at Utah's size, but instead of the guards doing it, the post is being fed.

Meanwhile, the Rebels at some point will need to find some more offensive balance. Anthony Marshall and Tre'Von Willis are both off to slow starts at 0-for-3 from the floor. As a team, UNLV is just 5-of-19, but is defending well, as Utah is 3-of-11 and has one assist across from five turnovers.

Pregame

UNLV doesn't start the second half of its Mountain West Conference schedule until Saturday at BYU, but after a week off from game action, the stretch run of the 2010-11 regular season essentially starts tonight.

The Rebels (16-5 overall, 4-3 Mountain West) host Utah (10-11, 3-4) tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center, and ideally, Lon Kruger's bunch would like to perform like it did in the second half of last Tuesday's 74-65 victory at Wyoming.

After a brutal offensive first half — probably the team's worst 20-minute stretch on that end this season — the Rebels exploded to score 51 points in fluid fashion, quickly breaking the Cowboys' spirits within 10 minutes.

Most of the damage was done with UNLV's five top performers of late on the floor: Oscar Bellfield, Anthony Marshall, Tre'Von Willis, Chace Stanback and Quintrell Thomas.

Now, a week later, those five will start against the Utes. It's the first time in two seasons as a Rebel that senior guard Derrick Jasper will play off of the bench, as it's become too tough for Kruger not to play Marshall and Willis together.

With the new optimal lineup debuting tonight, here are three things to watch from that group over the course of the night.

1) On the first two possessions of the second half in Laramie, UNLV tried something to jump-start its offense that it hadn't resorted to much until that point: Working inside-out. The ball was dumped down to Thomas to start both trips. On the first, he spun and hit a nice 5-foot baby hook, then on the second, drew the defense down and kicked out to Oscar Bellfield for an open three. Those two sequences broke down Wyoming's zone defense, and the Rebels will likely go to that plan more. Can it work tonight against Utah's much more formidable front-court?

2) The most entertaining match-up tonight will be between UNLV 6-foot-3 sophomore wing Anthony Marshall and Utah 6-foot-7 slasher Will Clyburn. Marshall has been the Rebels' most consistent producer in conference play, while Clyburn is one of the league's most prolific overall performers to this point, except with the struggles of his team, the numbers have gone largely unnoticed. He's averaging 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. Who gets the better of that showdown?

3) Will it be Good Tre'Von Willis or Bad Tre'Von Willis? The Rebels' senior leader hasn't been bad very much this season, but the health of his right knee has limited just how effective he can be at times. After laboring through 25 minutes against New Mexico before the Wyoming game, Willis healed up some and looked a lot more like his old self against the Cowboys. All indications are that the week off did him some good.

As for a prediction, I think UNLV wins it, but the 15-point line is kind of a head-scratcher. Utah can score, but the Rebels won't sleep on the Utes, given their struggles against them over the past few years. I'll say UNLV improves to 5-3 at the turn in MWC play, 75-66.

My Pick to Click tonight is Willis, who traditionally plays pretty well against Utah.

I'll be back shortly after tip-off. To join in the conversation on Twitter with me, add the #unlvmbb tag to your in-game tweets. Also, give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene.

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  1. QT!

  2. Ryan, any idea why Brice didn't come out second half?

    QT and Lopez are having a good night, but come on!