REBELS BASKETBALL:

Kendall Wallace’s shooting highlights UNLV scrimmage victory over LMU

After rusty return from ACL injury, Wallace bounces back with strong performance in closed scrimmage

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Sam Morris

UNLV guard Kendall Wallace fouls Washburn guard William McNeill as he dives for the ball during their exhibition game Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011. UNLV won the game 58-50.

It wasn't ]the outcome on the scoreboard that mattered for UNLV on Saturday in a closed scrimmage against Loyola Marymount at the Thomas & Mack Center.

For first-year Rebels coach Dave Rice, some of the most valuable information taken away was what came from a post-scrimmage sit-down with former UNLV coach and long-time friend Max Good, who is entering his third season running the show at LMU.

Rice and Good talked for a while about what they saw from each other's team, and also what they would try to exploit if they were to face off again.

"We both just recognized the importance of defensive rebounding," Rice identified as one of the key talking points.

But, of course, the result did give UNLV's players something to feel good about.

The two sides squared off in a full 40-minute game with no spectators, as it was closed to both the media and the public, per NCAA rules, including a full halftime and regular media timeouts. And after falling behind 10-0 out of the gates, UNLV rallied behind some hot shooting in the second half for an 80-72 victory over one of the West Coast Conference's stronger teams.

Rice could not disclose stats or specifics from the game — also per NCAA rules — but when asked what stood out, the first name to come from his mouth was Kendall Wallace.

"I thought that Kendall made strides, made shots," Rice said. "I think he's feeling more comfortable with everything."

Earlier in the afternoon, not long after the scrimmage ended, junior guard Anthony Marshall even mentioned Wallace on his Twitter feed, tweeting that "Kendall couldn't miss."

On Tuesday night, in his first game back in a Rebels uniform since the 2010 NCAA tournament first round loss to Northern Iowa, UNLV's top 3-point gunner was 0-for-3 from the floor and 0-for-2 from deep in 23 minutes against Washburn in the Rebels' lone exhibition game.

Recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee suffered in the summer of 2010, Wallace worked himself back into prime physical shape this summer in preparation for Rice's uptempo offensive system. After finally shedding his chunky brace a few weeks back, he recently began playing while wearing it again after experiencing some swelling in the knee.

Rice said that the plan moving forward is for Wallace to wear the brace in practice, but simply wear a sleeve over the knee during games so he can be as mobile and explosive as possible.

Either way, Rice hopes that the hot shooting carries over for Wallace into Friday's regular season opener at the Mack against Grand Canyon.

Here are some other notes from the scrimmage …

• Rice said that the offense looked improved compared to its inconsistent showing on Tuesday night, but emphasized that the areas in which UNLV still has to grow the most within his system are with their spacing and how they run the offense through the big men.

• UNLV's starting lineup in both halves included Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall in the backcourt, Chace Stanback at small forward, Mike Moser at power forward and Brice Massamba at center. Stanback played, but will miss Friday's game due to the suspension stemming from his offseason DUI arrest. Redshirting transfers Reggie Smith (Marquette) and Bryce Jones (USC) did not play. The first game Smith is eligible for is on Dec. 17, when UNLV takes on Illinois at the United Center in Chicago.

• Rice said Stanback played well overall and was consistent with his shot. Stanback's minutes mostly came at small forward, but he also flexed down to play some minutes as the Rebels' back-up power forward behind Moser with Carlos Lopez nursing his severely sprained right ankle that has him out indefinitely. Also seeing minutes at the four-spot was sophomore Karam Mashour, who split his time between there and small forward.

• Rice was impressed with the way Moser rebounded the ball, which was also the case in Tuesday's exhibition when he grabbed nine boards, including seven on the offensive end.

• Expect Marshall and Bellfield to form a dynamic in the backcourt in terms of handling the ball and running the point similar to what Rice's BYU team had last year with Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery. Marshall showed flashes in the second half on Tuesday that he can handle the point guard position, but Rice said there is plenty about the role that he's still learning, even after a solid performance on Saturday. Rice said that Marshall and Bellfield splitting point guard duties will likely be the case all year. "The good thing for us is that they're both interchangeable at the one and the two, so they both know both spots and that's really good," he said.

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  1. I don't like the comparison of Bellfield and Marshall to Fredette and Emery. Of course Fredette was a very good scorer and ball handler but Emery couldn't dribble with his left hand to save his life. The combo of Marshall and Bellfield is one that I'd take over Fredette and Emery any day.

  2. "Rice said the offense.....in which UNLV still has to grow the most within his system are with their spacing and how they run the offense through the big men."

    Exactly. Our bigs arent "go to" but they're all legit threats down low. Feed the post, make the D shift, create lanes, & worse case its a high percentage shot or a kick out & a WIDE open perimeter look if we make the extra pass. Man, its nice to have a Coach who cares about & stresses BOTH ends of the floor! Good stuff.

  3. Well an early look shows this team will still have trouble shooting the the ball. Well I recognize defense is an important part of the game putting the ball in the basket is the name of the game!

    There are teams who win games without shooting the 3 it's just a matter of knowing your own team weakness.

    I hope I'm wrong and maybe the shooting will come around lets hope so!

    GO REBELS!

  4. Well they scored 21 more points in the scrimmage than they did in the exhibition. 80 points tells me their shooting was much better, or Kendall was raining down threes. Either way its good news, Grand Canyon should be a good way to measure any improvements.