LIVE GAME BLOG: Final:

UNLV falls to No. 6 SDSU, 55-49, drops to 1-2 in MWC play

Rebels struggle again offensively at Viejas Arena while Aztecs improve to 18-0

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV’s Chace Stanback and Tre’Von willis yell at San Diego State guard Chase Tabley during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 | 9:13 p.m.

UNLV vs. San Diego State

San Diego State forward and Las Vegas native Billy White pounds his chest after Wednesday's game against UNLV at Viejas Arena in San Diego. SDSU won the game 55-49. Launch slideshow »

Final, SDSU wins 55-49

SAN DIEGO — Kawhi Leonard again killed UNLV with 15 points and 17 rebounds, and No. 6 San Diego State remained undefeated on the season with a 55-49 victory over UNLV on Wednesday night at Viejas Arena.

Leonard and fellow forward Malcolm Thomas combined for 33 rebounds, while UNLV only had 31 as a team, as that category again told the story in a slowed-down slugfest between the two growing rivals.

Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis took plenty of shots in the second half that could have kept UNLV within range, but were just a combined 8-of-28 from the floor as the Rebels failed to score 50 points in a game for the first time this season.

It was an ugly, heated game that included three technical fouls on both sides and plenty of chatter on the floor.

The Rebels are now 13-4 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain West, and will head on the road again Saturday for a matinee tilt with Air Force.

Anthony Marshall led the Rebels with 11 points, while Oscar Bellfield scored 10. UNLV was just 22-of-61 from the floor and an ugly 1-of-18 from 3-point range.

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

3:47, Second Half, SDSU leads 50-45

SAN DIEGO — You have to credit UNLV for being in the position it's in right now heading into the game's final few minutes, trailing No. 6 San Diego State just 50-45.

The Rebels found themselves down by as many as 12 points earlier in the half, but Tre'Von Willis hit the team's first 3-pointer, and Chace Stanback got a couple of looks to finally fall.

The key for UNLV, though, is that it can't string enough buckets together to make a true run. Stanback and Willis are a combined 8-of-24 from the floor and 1-of-8 from deep.

The killer stat so far for SDSU is on the glass, as Malcolm Thomas and Kawhi Leonard have combined for 27 caroms, while UNLV has 24 as a team.

11:30, Second Half, SDSU leads 44-32

SAN DIEGO — UNLV's outside shooting is continuing to sputter, and as it has for much of the season, SDSU is beginning to thrive offensively in the second half.

Billy White just hit back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Aztecs the game's first double-digit lead at 40-30, and every try the Rebels have made to answer with an outside shot is bouncing out.

Chace Stanback is 2-of-12 from the floor and 0-for-3 from deep, while on the other end, Kawhi Leonard is calling for the ball, talking smack and clearly in the mood to take this game over.

Leonard, in front of several NBA scouts, now has 11 points and 14 rebounds.

UNLV badly needs a run of some kind soon, or this could get out of hand in front of a crowd that is growing louder by the SDSU score.

Halftime

SAN DIEGO — It's become apparent that if UNLV is going to pull off the upset and beat No. 6 San Diego State, they'll be doing so at the Aztecs' pace.

In a slugfest of a first half, the Rebels hung tough and trail 28-26 at the break.

UNLV is 0-for-9 from 3-point range and offense is coming tough. Lon Kruger's club has been out-rebounded 21-13.

However, the Rebels are taking care of the basketball and getting production from some unlikely places.

They're doing a strong job defensively, as SDSU is 10-of-29 from the floor and 1-of-9 from deep with six turnovers.

Two Rebels to watch in the second half will be Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis.

Stanback will start the second half on the floor with three fouls, and will have to be a bit careful ... especially while matched up with Billy White.

Willis was just 1-of-4 from the floor in the first half and quiet overall. He hasn't been gobbled up mentally by the student section that is all over him every time he touches the ball, but has to simply do more if he's going to play such bit minutes.

3:34, First Half, SDSU leads 24-22

SAN DIEGO — Scoring-wise, not much has changed in terms of tonight's game being incredibly back-and-forth.

With 3:34 to go in the first half, SDSU holds a slim 24-22 edge, but the Rebels took a big blow on the stat sheet just a moment ago.

SDSU's Kawhi Leonard was fouled hard by Chace Stanback on the way up for a second-chance bucket, and the result was a scuffle underneath the bucket that delayed the game for five minutes while the refs sorted things out via replay.

The result was four technicals, two for each team. Brice Massamba and Stanback were hit for the Rebels, while Billy White and Chase Tapley got them for the Aztecs. That gave Stanback three fouls all of a sudden, and one of UNLV's top offensive options tonight is all of a sudden handcuffed.

Keeping things interesting for UNLV is the play of Anthony Marshall, who has a game-high seven points so far, scoring in a variety of ways. He looks much more aggressive and comfortable offensively tonight than he did in this road game as a freshman.

UNLV is playing a good half overall, only turning the ball over three times to this point. The glaring omission is the lack of a 3-pointer, as the Rebels are 0-for-7 tonight. However, the streak is probably the last thing on anyone's mind tonight.

11:22, First Half, SDSU leads 15-13

SAN DIEGO — UNLV is certainly not rattled mentally by the raucous atmosphere tonight at Viejas Arena, but the big men are struggling to yank away boards inside, as Malcolm Thomas has already taken three away from the Rebels after the ball looked to be going the other way.

It's been a strong back-and-forth battle so far, with neither team leading by more than four to this point, and SDSU holds a 15-13 edge on UNLV at the second TV break.

To this point, UNLV has been out-boarded 10-4, but Rebels reserve big Carlos Lopez deserves some credit for his major early minutes. Brice Massamba picked up a foul on the game's second possession and took a seat, and Lopez filled in with seven quality minutes.

The key to so far for the Rebels is a lack of turnovers. They have yet to commit one, while the Aztecs have registered three. If UNLV can keep playing clean ball, it appears they'll be in this for the long haul.

One thing to note so far is Tre'Von Willis, who is getting the worst treatment from an opposing student section that he's seen since Illinois State in early December. That night, he fed off of it greatly. Can he do it again tonight?

Pregame

SAN DIEGO — After BYU's Jimmer Fredette exploded for 47 points on Tuesday night in a 104-79 blowout of Utah, his name picked up even more steam than it already had in terms of potential National Player of the Year honors.

But is he the best player in the Mountain West Conference?

It can be argued that just as valuable to his team is San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard, who UNLV has to try and tame tonight at 7 p.m. at Viejas Arena.

Fredette is now the nation's leading scorer, and, yes, is the primary reason why the Cougars are 17-1 and ranked 11th in the nation.

Leonard, meanwhile, is the driving force between San Diego State being 17-0 and ranked sixth.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore has had an NBA body since the first day he arrived on campus, but now has an even more well-rounded game to go with it. He leads the Aztecs in scoring (15.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.6 rpg) and has posted 10 double-doubles so far this year.

In the one game he didn't play due to the flu, the Aztecs were pushed to the brink in a 51-45 victory over Cal Poly.

The one major hole in his game a year ago was consistent mid-range and outside shooting, which would help make him a solid first round pick in the 2011 NBA draft. It's come along, despite only minor bumps in his field goal percentage, and Leonard is now a true all-around weapon.

As the MWC Freshman of the Year, he didn't torment any of his eight league opponents quite as successfully as UNLV, though. In three games a year ago, he averaged 14 points and 15 rebounds against the Rebels, including a pair of wins and a MWC tournament crown.

With that said, lets jump into the three things to watch for tonight as UNLV and No. 6 SDSU square off …

1) In UNLV's last two games — one win, one loss — the Rebels have unleashed big mid-first half runs, with a 13-0 spurt against BYU and a crippling 24-0 jaunt against TCU on Saturday night. The sparks of both runs were sophomore reserve guards Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins. In Saturday's run, Hawkins had six points, three steals and several quality defensive possessions. Marshall, meanwhile, is averaging 14.2 points per game in his last five efforts after getting back to slashing first and shooting from the outside second on offense. If UNLV is to have success against SDSU tonight, the duo will have to bring that same energy off of the bench during the middle portion of the opening 20 minutes.

2) Rebounding. Duh. UNLV was out-rebounded by a margin of 120-91 in the three games against SDSU last season combined. That pretty much tells it all, so no need to write another paragraph about it. The Rebels just have to board better.

3) UNLV forced TCU's Ronnie Moss into 10 turnovers on Saturday night. No one is expecting SDSU's D.J. Gay to do the same, as he's become a much more polished point guard over the last two seasons than he was as a sophomore combo performer. But the Rebels are going to try to force him into miscues, which in turn could bump up the pace of the game, which favors UNLV. If Gay avoids giving away possessions, San Diego State will have a good chance to slow the game down and make the Rebels uncomfortable instead.

As for a prediction, based on history in recent years, I'm taking SDSU in a close one, 70-65. My UNLV Pick to Click tonight will be Oscar Bellfield. I think he's due for a strong offensive night now that his right wrist appears to be closer to 100 percent.

That's all from me for now, as I'm expecting this place to be pretty insane tonight. I'll be back with more on both the game and the atmosphere shortly after tip-off.

For even more updates, follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/ryanmgreene, or join the in-game conversation below by adding the #unlvmbb hashtag to your UNLV-SDU tweets.

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Previous Discussion: 30 comments so far…

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  1. Gametime! Let's go Runnin' Rebels!

    Pick to click player: Tre'Von

  2. That Stanback foul and the resulting 4 tech was a load of BS. How is it that any Rebel players got technical fouls when Leonard, Tapley, and White were all initiators. Stanback just made a hard foul. Those officials are awful.

  3. Dangit!!!! 0 for 8 from three!!!

  4. This is unacceptable play by UNLV. These guys essentially play basketball for a living, yet they can't make a shot. Thats like a bus driver who can't drive a bus, or a pilot who can't fly a plane.

  5. 29% just isn't going to do it. 1-18 on the 3 ball. Whoa. Amazing it was as close as it was shooting that way, but we kept SDSU shooting very poorly. As I had thought, the extra 10 boards SDSU got pretty much made the game. Even getting a couple of those may have made it different.

    Tough loss fellas. At least Dukey lost tonight, much to Vitale's disappointment.

  6. Another pathetic showing by UNLV's offense. I don't know why this team keeps shooting 3 pointers when they are 1-16 from the arch. Lon Kruger needs to go to a coaching clinic to find out how to run an effective offense. While his teams play hard and play good defense he has no clue how to run an offense. You'd figure he would have set up some plays, screens, picks, whatever after the Rebels couldn't hit from downtown but nope. The Rebels kept trying to shoot their way out of their funk even though they've been shooting like crap the last month and a half.

    UNLV is an overrated team. They do not have one great offensive star. Trevon Willis is a shell of what he was last year and I seriously doubt he will be able to play at that level again. Chace Stanback is a joke. I think he teased all the UNLV fans early in the year with his performance but he has settled into his true self, a lousy outside shooter with no inside game and athleticism. None of our bigs are good. There was a play early in the game where Lopez got the ball 5 feet from the basket and instead of going in for a dunk he throws up some stupid jumpshot/layup. The kid is 6'11" for christ sakes, dunk the ball!!!

    UNLV will probably lose again to SDSU and BYU and probably lose another game or two in conference on top of that. They should be another bubble team going into the tournament this year.

  7. NIT here we come. These guys can't shoot at all. Senior night can't come soon enough. Time for a new group.

  8. That was a tough loss. UNLV's two weaknesses were greatly exposed and it was still a close game at the end. UNLV just needs to keep working hard and try to hit their stride in March. A lot can change between now and then.

  9. How many open shots can you miss? Even being outrebounded 40-29....game was sitting there waiting to be won and all the Rebels could do was miss open shots. And not only the open shots outside, but how many shots inside 4 feet......smdh.

  10. If Trevon isn't hitting open 3's he is WORTHLESS! Can anyone explain why he didn't have his knee worked on the day after we lost to Northern Iowa last year? His defense went from a strength to a weakness. He is slow. Turns the ball over too much as well.
    As for those Aztecs...bunch of punks. Billy White is a chump. Right along with his tough guy buddies Thomas, Leonard, and Tapley. Look forward for when you clowns come to Vegas.

  11. Nice effort, especially on the defensive end, UNLV. You lost on the road to the #6 team on the nation, and not by many points. Both teams shot poorly, but SDSU shot poorly because your defense was running well most of the game; you shot poorly because you took too many ill-advised 3-point shots and failed to push the ball inside enough. There was a stretch with 8 minutes to go and down by 5 when you forced three or four turnovers in a row and yet failed to score; that cannot happen. You guys need to sort out your half court game and your offense - and quick!

    As for those armchair coaches here who write negative manifestos about you, ignore them. They aren't on the court, and they don't see the forest for the trees. There is a lot of self-loathing in Las Vegas, and that extends to anyone they can hate. But some of us have been watching UNLV teams since the Final Four team of 1977 and aren't going to let one game stop that.

    Every game is new, and it's a long season. Already have my tix to watch you exact revenge on SDSU at the Mack - go Rebels!

  12. I have never said anything bad about Kruger before but I have one question. Do you just not like quintell or what. He is what we need sometimes and he just uses his wide body to hold the bench. I guess he is there to get the long rebounds. If he is in foul trouble then let him foul out to get what we can out of him. But that's not an excuse if he sits the whole game with 1-3 fouls.

    A loss away is expected and that's fine as long as we win on sat. If we lose sat then we all have an excuse to hit the panic button.

  13. I think Kruger is doing a fantastic job to get this team to 13 wins. The Rebels are just not a very good team. They have no consistent three point shooter, they have no one that can consistently score in the paint, nor are they very good at hitting medium range jump shots. I am not really sure how they score at all. Yet, they hustle, they play inspired defense, and they don't make too many mistakes--all calling cards of a well coached team.

    The talent disparity between the Rebels and SDSU was enormous, yet they still almost won the game. Can't blame Kruger, he's getting about all anyone could get out of these players.

  14. Oh, and by the way, over rated is Duke ranked #1 losing to unranked Florida St. Not Unranked UNLV losing to #6 SDSU on the road.

  15. " I am not really sure how they score at all"

    Go back and watch the first nine games of the season.

  16. Wade, thanks for hitting that ridiculous "over ranked" comment squarely so I didn't have to.

  17. Couldn't disagree with you more Lawdog. This ranks as one of the most perplexing, frustrating UNLV losses I have ever seen in my life. We just wasted an incredibly ripe opportunity to defeat a top 10 team on their home floor. Why? Because coach Kruger has suddenly forgotten how to make adjustments. Obviously the 3s were not falling, why not play a bigger lineup since the game was a slowdown halfcourt affair. Also, if the game plan is to set picks for 3 pt shots, then Mashour needs some minutes, as I have been thoroughly convinced after tonight that he is the best 3 pt shooter on the team.

  18. Go big? With who? Who's going to do the scoring?

    Scoring is 80-90 percent talent. Defense is 80-90 percent coaching. This team plays good defense and bad offense because it has no talent, but has a decent coach.

    There is not a single legitimate NBA prospect on this team. SDSU arguably has three.

  19. Also, we had two crucial CRUCIAL turnovers late in the game when the margin was 5 pts and about 2 minutes left, when we were playing very good defense and SDSU was struggling. A well-coached team capitalizes on that situation, they don't give it away like we did tonight.

  20. the few times Lopez touched the ball he was effective, as was Massamba...why not try those two on the floor together. Or even QT. Something, ANYTHING except futilely chucking 3 after 3 while playing a half court game. and SDSU has one, Kawhi Leonard. White is not an NBA player, sorry.

  21. and if you're implying that Malcolm Leonard is a "legitimate" NBA prospect, then Anthony Marshall is just as legitimate.

  22. I though they did pretty well on the boards ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. They were never going to win in the rebound department but they did grab enough to win the game if they shoot decently. Hopefully, UNLV will come out of this shooting slump. Tonight they proved they could beat just about anybody if they do.

  23. What is up with Jasper? Man can't even hit the rim from 5 ft. Its like 5 on 4 on offense when he is in the game. I hope he's working hard on his degree because he's going to need it.

  24. liljoe,

    Do you honestly believe that this team is talented? They have no consistent three point shooter. They have no consistent low post scorer. Has any team ever gone anywhere without one or the other? Yet they are 13-4 and they almost beat the best team in the conference on the road.

    They are doing about as well as they possibly can given their obvious deficiencies.

  25. Shootin the three ball is the base of this Rebel offense. Once they become consistent, they can beat anybody.

  26. You folks can rag on players, coaches and the team all you want, but the fact remains that the NCAA was relentless in its holier-than-thou (typical attack on Vegas) dismantling of the UNLV program, and then chased Coach Tarkanian away. Tark was eventually victorious in the fight against the NCAA, but it was too late. UNLV suffered for a long, long time to get back to a program that could even make it to post-season play, let alone play a Top 10 team point for point on their home court.

    The program has some distance to go to rebuild, but there has never been a better opportunity than under Kruger's tenure. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but you are either a fan or you are not, and this year's team is nothing to be ashamed of if you are.

  27. The first half they drive to the bucket,play hard d.The second half they revert to settling for jumpers again till it's too late.Same story every time.Where's Trey?He's supposed to be the leader.Officiating stunk,the same ref who gave BYU 5 minutes to put a contact in tells Kruger to sub or take a time out when Trey goes down,what a joke.Can we catch a break once?

  28. I agree that those technical fouls were a bit of a joke. You go back and look at the footage, and it's SDSU initiating those confrontations, especially the Leonard and Jasper T's. Just poor officiating in that respect. We also didn't shoot well. But lets look at this as it really is: We lost by only 6 on a poor shooting night on the road against the number 6 team in the nation. Bottom line, it isn't that bad. Everyone of you saying, "this team's headed for the NIT, can't wait for this group to leave" are way too hot headed. The season is young and you are not taking everything into consideration.

    WE LOST ON THE ROAD BY 6 TO THE #6 TEAM IN THE NATION ON A POOR SHOOTING NIGHT!

    Get a grip and focus on the actual situation and not your emotions.

  29. Ben Scott, you make great points all around.

    NCAA officiating has just gotten worse and worse with all the new rules. Look back at the game in 1990, and it was a much more physical sport. Now, with all the new rules, players are handcuffed, officials are confused, and the game is emasculated.

  30. As soon as those zebras huddle up, I know UNLV is about to be screwed. We deserved exactly zero technicals, while SDSU earned theirs or "got their money's worth". And you can just forget about getting a fair shake from the refs if Mr. (i don't know his name I only know the hair) Blonde Highlights is officiating the game.

    I realize Kruger is an outstanding coach who has made tremendous strides in bringing UNLV hoops back to relevancy, one can hardly argue otherwise. I am merely pointing out a troubling trend in our two conference losses, i.e. the inability of the coaching staff to make in-game adjustments, which I know I have seen Kruger do before. That game last night should have been ours.

    If our offense is to set screens for 3s then Mashour should not be on the bench.