LIVE GAME BLOG: Final:

Rebels come back late, survive scare at Air Force, 64-52

Jasper, Stanback, Bellfield key late run that improves UNLV to 14-4 overall, 2-2 in MWC

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall drives to the basket against TCU during the first half of their game Saturday, January 7, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 83-49.

Updated Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 | 4:57 p.m.

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Final, UNLV wins 64-52

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Maybe a close win on the road was just what the Rebels needed.

After trailing by five at the half and for much of the second half, Derrick Jasper, Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield keyed a 13-0 run that helped UNLV ultimately eclipse pesky Air Force and run away to a 64-52 win in Colorado Springs.

The victory improved the Rebels to 14-4 overall and an even 2-2 in Mountain West Conference play. Air Force is now 10-6 and 1-2, respectively.

Anthony Marshall was huge offensively early for the Rebels early, but sat much of the second half in foul trouble. That was when Stanback heated up from the outside and Jasper provided everything else.

Stanback scored a game-high 18 points to go with 11 rebounds, while Bellfield and Marshall each scored 12. Justin Hawkins played big minutes off of the bench, scoring 10 points. Jasper only took one shot all night and scored five points, but he had 10 rebounds, six assists, no turnovers and a huge block of Air Force's Tom Fow to help set up Hawkins' game-tying 3-pointer late in the game — which he also assisted.

The Rebels now return home for a pair of home games this week, first on Wednesday night against Colorado State, then on Saturday versus rival New Mexico.

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

3:21, Second Half, UNLV leads 53-50

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It took UNLV a long time to get its first lead of the second half at Air Force. Now the trick is holding onto it.

The Rebels are up 53-50 on the Falcons with less than four minutes to play at Clune Arena.

Derrick Jasper has been huge in the second half for the Rebels. Though not scoring much of anything tonight, he's producing everywhere else on the stat sheet, including nine rebounds and six assists across from no turnovers.

Jasper had a huge series where he hit two free throws to pull UNLV to within three points at 50-47, then after blocking Tom Fow on the other end, he fed Justin Hawkins for a three on the other end to tie it up. UNLV hasn't allowed a point since and is on an 8-0 run, clearly picking up momentum as it goes along.

11:40, Second Half, Air Force leads 41-40

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — UNLV is having to hang tough with Air Force without Anthony Marshall on the floor, as he was called for his fourth foul five minutes into the second half.

Marshall, who has 11 points so far for the Rebels, was trying to take a charge underneath the Air Force basket, and on a close call was whistled for a block.

UNLV is getting by without its most consistent offensive threat, though. Chace Stanback and Justin Hawkins each have hit 3-pointers this half, and the Rebels are still getting the better of the Falcons on the glass.

Stanback now has 11 points to go with six rebounds and four assists, but the Rebels might need much more from him if Marshall is going to sit about another four or five minutes.

Halftime, Air Force leads 28-23

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — UNLV is officially in the danger zone.

Another cold shooting performance from the outside in the first half has the Rebels trailing Air Force at halftime in Colorado Springs, 28-23.

Meanwhile, the Falcons are efficient on offense so far and have only turned the ball over three times.

UNLV was 4-of-34 from 3-point range coming into today's game, and was 1-of-12 from deep in the opening 20 minutes, with Oscar Bellfield having the only make. However, he was just 1-of-6 from long range.

UNLV's top offensive option tonight is Anthony Marshall, who has eight points so far, but he also picked up a crucial third foul in the final minute of the first half, putting him on a short defensive leash after the break.

This is a game UNLV can ill afford to let get away, as they have little room for error before the MWC schedule turns over in early February.

Some key stats from the first 20 minutes ...

— Chace Stanback is 3-of-6 from the floor, 0-of-3 from three, and has six points to go with five rebounds.

— UNLV is 10-of-26 from the floor, meaning they're 9-of-14 from inside the arc.

— Quintrell Thomas only played two minutes. He looked fine on defense and had a big offensive board. It's truly puzzling as to why he's not getting more of a shot.

— Air Force is led so far by Tom Fow, as the forward has a game-high nine points.

— UNLV is being out-scored in the paint, 8-2.

10:20, First Half, Air Force leads 15-13

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Air Force has hit three of its first four tries from 3-point range, while UNLV's outside struggles continue, giving the Falcons an early 15-13 lead on the Rebels at Clune Arena.

Tom Fow is 3-of-3 from the floor and 2-of-2 from deep for Air Force, but the Rebels are still playing pretty clean on the other end.

Chace Stanback is off to a strong start, with four points, five rebounds and two assists in the game's first 10 minutes. He is, however, 0-for-2 from long range, as the game so far is being played at Air Force's slowed down pace.

Anthony Marshall has four points so far starting in place of Tre'Von Willis, with both of his buckets being mid-range jumpers. he's also run the point for a decent amount of the game to this point.

Pregame

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In my opinion, there are two road trips for teams in the top half of the Mountain West Conference that won't be nearly as 'easy' as they have been in recent years.

One would be Colorado State, which is pretty well known at this point in the season, but the same can be said for Air Force.

The Falcons (10-5, 1-1) suffered a puzzling home loss to Colorado College on Nov. 17, but since then haven't dropped a contest at sleepy Clune Arena.

The altitude always offers a challenge for visitors, but it doesn't hurt either this season that Air Force is simply better than it was the last two seasons.

Now healthy, the Falcons are formidable, and already have made a nice impression to open up MWC play, beating Utah here by eight points on Jan.5, then rebounding three days later to play BYU to within 10 points in Provo.

This is an atmosphere that is never very intimidating and can keep visitors from playing with much urgency, but for UNLV (13-4, 1-2) today, the Rebels are in no position to take anyone lightly, which might help them.

It's a game that the Rebels can ill afford to let slip away, as they now enter the most manageable stretch of their conference slate over the next five games.

Here's three things to watch from today's 3 p.m. contest …

1) How does Chace Stanback play? I have a theory that he played his best ball when he was the offensive centerpiece early in the season. When Tre'Von Willis again took a prominent role, Stanback struggled. Are the two trends related? Almost everyone says no, but I'm still not convinced. if Stanback plays well today, the next week could be pretty interesting.

2) UNLV ran away from Air Force last year early by speeding the game up and making the Falcons uncomfortable. Air Force plays the Princeton style, slowed down offense. If UNLV can get them out of it again early, the Rebels' talent advantage could make it a laugher again, but with the way UNLV's been struggling to shoot the ball well, a slowed down affair might make this one much closer.

3) Anthony Marshall has expressed an interest in taking more of a leadership role on the team. When Tre'Von Willis is healthy, that's not so easy to do because of how much command Willis takes on the floor. With Willis not here, another big game from Marshall could help him take another step forward in that quest, and maybe change the complexion of this team from here on out.

As for a prediction, I'm taking UNLV to win 70-59. My Pick to Click will be Marshall, as you've got to ride the hot hand. No reason not to.

Be back shortly after tip, and don't forget to join the conversation below by adding the #unlvmbb tag to your in-game tweets. Or you can give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene.

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  1. What is Kruger thinking?! Seriously. Lopez makes a nice play at the 16:40 mark and the commentators even make a comment about how it was a nice play and Kruger turns to the bench and has Thomas sub out Lopez. Ive never seen such irrational and inconsistent substitutions by a coach. Ever. No wonder our bigs struggle so much. We have a coach that makes no sense with his subbing.

  2. Lopez just needs to toughen up a bit. He's a decent big, but he gets the ball taken away from him a lot on the inside. i think that's why Kruger wanted Thomas/Massamba in to really control those rebounds.

  3. Good insight rebel ben. Kruger has taken 4 different schools to the sweet sixteen. He probably knows what he's doing with regards to something like making substitutions.

  4. Ugly win, we'll take it, though. Now it's back to the friendly confines of the T&M. Have to say I am worried about our boys...they need to have some more fun out there. A lot of frustration regarding our bigs, but big players typically take a while to develop. Lopez is going to be a good one, Massamba seems to be the most comfortable out there at this point, and of the three ironically least in athletic ability. Again, what's up with Jasper?

  5. Also, outstanding job at the stripe this time. THAT is how you win tough games on the road, mmake your FTs. Nice job, Rebels