Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 | 4 p.m.
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- On the back of one player’s huge run, the Rebels survive a scare at Portland
- Moser a game-time decision for tonight’s game in his hometown
- Stellar first half buoys No. 24 UNLV as it holds off Hawaii 77-63 at home
- Rebels work well together in 85-57 home victory against UC Irvine
- Moser’s happy on offense helping the new Rebels find their own shots
- UNLV’s Bennett misses practice, may miss game because of lower-back issue
- Rebels basketball dips in the polls after Friday’s home loss to Oregon
- ‘Mad’ Rebels get back on track with an 82-70 victory against Iowa State
- No. 18 UNLV can’t overcome its mistakes in 83-79 loss to Oregon
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
This is a new feature that will usually run the day after each UNLV basketball game where I empty out my notebook with the sights, sounds and thoughts from press row.
For the inaugural edition of Leftovers I want to jump right into the aspect of No. 21 UNLV’s 68-60 victory against Portland that I’ve seen the kickback from on Twitter.
One technical ≠ 16 fouls
I wrote about the unbalanced fouls in the second half Tuesday night, and the main reaction I saw both that night and on Twitter since then is that it was justified because of the first-half technical on UNLV freshman Savon Goodman.
First of all, I didn’t have a problem with that technical call, though I can see how someone could. Goodman wasn’t showing up the ref or anything, just reacting to something he didn’t think should be called by jumping up and down. I think the less theatrics after fouls the better, so I’m OK with the quick whistle there.
Either way, UNLV was called for nine personal fouls in the first half compared to Portland’s seven. That’s pretty even. After halftime that flipped to 16 calls against Portland and just four against the Rebels.
To be clear, I don’t think this was a deliberate effort by the refs and I also believe UNLV played more aggressively down the stretch to earn some of those calls. Still, that’s a huge disparity, something you should never see in a game, and it was huge in the outcome.
In the second half the Rebels outscored the Pilots by 12 at the free-throw line, and had they shot better — they were just 13-for-21 — the game may not have been close.
UNLV shouldn’t apologize for getting those calls. Still, a lot of them seemed pretty ticky-tack and I completely understood Portland fans’ frustration. Speaking of which…
The Chiles Center wasn’t packed but it was hostile
Portland’s home arena is not a great college basketball venue by any means, but its intimate atmosphere — the 3,057 attendance put it at about 75 percent capacity — meant that you could easily pick out individual voices.
This was never more apparent than in the final seconds of the game, when a Pilots fan came down out of the student section and leaned over the courtside seats to yell at UNLV senior Anthony Marshall, who was standing at midcourt while waiting for the ball to be inbounded.
The fan, who was no more than 15 feet from the point guard, pointed at Marshall and screamed a few unprintable phrases. Marshall acknowledged the fan and smiled at him. The play then unfolded with Rebels freshman Anthony Bennett stealing the inbounds pass and dunking on Thomas van der Mars, which prompted a flex from Marshall and even more yelling from the fan.
That was the most interaction I saw but several times UNLV players looked over at the student section because it was easy to hear the insults being tossed at them.
Now, before you go judging the Portland fanbase too harshly because of this, keep two things in mind: 1. I’ve heard the same and worse from UNLV fans, as well as nearly every other team's fans, and 2. Portland had plenty of reason to be angry at the Rebels and the refs (see: 16 second-half fouls).
Odds and ends
— Although several people said otherwise, it sure looked like Carlos Lopez-Sosa tried to deliberately kick the Pilot player who was holding his leg. Just sayin’.
— Speaking of Lopez-Sosa, with sophomore Khem Birch set to become eligible in a couple of weeks, it seems to me that senior Quintrell Thomas has been the one to play himself into that backup center role.
Birch is going to be the starter. That’s clear. And thus far it’s been Thomas, not Lopez-Sosa, who seems to bring more to the table at both ends of the floor.
— A key going forward is going to be the coaching staff keeping sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones' confidence up. He’s struggling a lot in his first season at UNLV, including an 0-for-9 shooting night at Portland, and they can’t let him get too far inside his own head.
UNLV can afford peaks and valleys from Goodman, the other small forward, but it will need Dejean-Jones to find his game and deliver on the promise he’s shown in practice over the past year.
— A halftime bags (aka cornhole) competition was held for a free trip to Las Vegas. Now, I think Portland does this regularly since it was for a trip to the West Coast Conference tournament, which is in Las Vegas, but it doesn’t look good for the home city’s self-esteem when they’re giving away a trip to the opponent’s home.