Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 | 11:48 p.m.
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 71, Nevada-Reno 67(11-14-2011)
- Live blog: Rebels squander big lead, hang on for 71-67 win against Nevada-Reno(11-14-2011)
- Local product Anthony Marshall more than familiar with importance of rivalry game with Nevada-Reno(11-14-2011)
- Performances from Justin Hawkins, Mike Moser in opening night victory give Rebels something to build on(11-12-2011)
- Kendall Wallace doesn’t back down in return for severe knee injury (11-12-2011)
- Rice has strong hand in first season as UNLV coach (11-10-2011)
- Demetris Morant is raw in talent and full of potential; inks with UNLV on signing da (11-9-2011)
- Analysis: Taking a look at some important games on the UNLV basketball schedule (11-9-2011)
- Anthony Marshall out for opener for secondary NCAA violation in honest mistake (11-8-2011)
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
Give credit to the UNLV basketball team’s defense for this victory.
While first-year coach Dave Rice’s fast-paced offense has created most of the buzz, his pressure defensive strategies are getting the more noteworthy results.
The Rebels limited visiting Nevada-Reno to seven first-half field goals Monday, holding the Wolf Pack to 32 percent shooting in a 71-67 victory for their second win in four days to open the season.
“Our defense carried us,” Rice said. “That has been a characteristic of this group of guys. It is a group that is committed on the defensive end. We held a really good offensive team to 32 percent from the floor. The bottom line is we will get better offensively, but we can always count on our defense.”
The Rebels had eight blocked shots and six steals in creating several easy-scoring opportunities on the offensive end — well, at least for the game’s first 33 minutes.
In the final seven minutes, UNLV allowed Nevada-Reno several second-chance scoring opportunities, and the Wolf Pack finally found their stroke late in making things interesting.
Guard Deonte Burton showed why he was widely considered the best player in the Western Athletic Conference, draining a fade-away 3-pointer from the corner with about 20 seconds to play to trim the UNLV lead from 18 points with 6:36 remaining to one point, 68-67.
UNLV hits 3-of-4 foul shots in the closing seconds to secure the victory and learn one valuable lesson moving forward: the intensity, both offensively and defensively, has to be sustained for the duration of the game.
Nevada-Reno had only 10 field goals in the initial 32 minutes, but managed to keep the score close at the foul line by making 22-of-34 attempts. In the final eight minutes, however, the Wolf Pack closed by making nine field goals and forcing UNLV to hold on.
“I thought we really showed guts down the stretch and got some good stops,” Rice said.
Justin Hawkins, who had a game-high 28 points last Friday against Grand Canyon in the season opener, led three UNLV players in double figures with 13 points. Chace Stanback returned to the lineup after missing the exhibition game and opener, and scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Oscar Bellfield added 11 points.
Stanback wasted little time getting back into the flow of the game, draining a short jumper on his first touch of the game.
“I was tired of watching them from the sideline,” Stanback half-jokingly said.
Carlos Lopez also returned to the lineup after missing the opener with a sprained ankle, scoring nine points to go along with four blocks and rebounds in an active 18 minutes. Lopez gingerly ran up and down the court and was clearly not at full-pace, but still was a force on the inside in altering shots and giving the Rebels a true big-man presence down low.
Mike Moser, who had 20 rebounds against Grand Canyon, was limited in the second half after picking up a fourth personal foul to finish with 11 rebounds. Lopez stepped in and filled the void.
“I told coach at the beginning of the game (that) if needed me I would be there,” Lopez said.
UNLV, which is still a very much a work in progress offensively, has two days of practice before Thursday hosting Canisius. Monday, they had 10 turnovers and 18 assists for 26 field goals — a sign things are moving in the right direction.
“Different guys stepped up and did a really, really good job,” Rice said.