Analysis:

UNLV Leftovers: Emptying out the notebook after the Rebels’ narrow win at Portland

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

UNLV players Mike Moser, right, and Anthony Bennett, left, celebrate from the bench on both sides of coach Dave Rice during the second half of their game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Bennett led UNLV in scoring with 18 points as they won 68-60.

UNLV defeats Portland in first road game of the season

KSNV reports that UNLV men's basketball team defeated Portland 68-60 for its first road win of the season, Dec. 4.

UNLV vs. Portland

UNLV players Mike Moser, right, and Anthony Bennett, left, celebrate from the bench on both sides of coach Dave Rice during the second half of their game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Bennett led UNLV in scoring with 18 points as they won 68-60. Launch slideshow »

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.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. I don't follow the logic that the number of foul calls are supposed be the same for both teams. The best way Portland could counter our athleticism was to foul us a lot more. It was evident.

    Lopez-Sosa did throw a kick. It was obvious. He should have been T'd up for that. And he has a history of doing stuff like that in those type of situations.

    Bryce Jones is the most prolific bricklayer I've ever seen. He rebounds very well, but his defense is quite average and his offense is garbage. Biggest ball hog I've ever seen, whether he makes his shots or not. He could shoot 0-50 and still want to keep the ball for himself. I can see why things didn't work out at USC.

  2. Love this kind of odds and end coverage (especially observations about the crowd which we don't get to see on TV). Keep it up, Taylor!

  3. "After halftime that flipped to 16 calls against Portland and just four against the Rebels....Still, that's a huge disparity, something you should never see in a game, and it was huge in the outcome."

    LOGIC FAIL.

    I suppose referees should not call fouls unless an offsetting foul has been called? Did you watch the game? Portland Pilots foul. Thats what they do. Their coach admitted they would foul - frequently.

    Usually Mr. Bern you write pretty decent articles, but this logic makes no sense at all.

  4. Yes, TB's whole foul rant doesnt make any sense at all. Nor should the assumption associated with it ever be accepted or legitimized. The disparity was huge but it was dictated by the action on the floor & NOT, thankfully, by some unethical & immoral standard that fouls must be equal. You get what you deserve in sports, not what is "fair."

    That is the biggest peeve I've got with officiating in the college game & especially in the MWC. The number of team fouls dictates the calls...not the action on the floor. I've lost count of how many times the Rebels got hosed on their own floor by crews desperately trying to get the other team into the bonus too...ignoring obvious fouls on our end & calling ticky tack stuff on us in their end. That corrupt mindset produces TWO sets of differing standards specifically for each team... when the only REAL fair way is to have one standard for both.

  5. I do agree with the Thomas earning the back up center minutes when Birch becomes eligible. I still cringe when Thomas drops passes or can not convert easy baskets, but Lopez-Sosa has never gotten any better and more often hurts the Rebs because he does not know his limitations. Thomas is an above average defender and does not try to do to much most nights. We are starving for players who make simple plays and do not try to make the highlight reel on every touch. Thomas fits this bill better then Carlos. Neither one is anything special but Thomas just seems steadier at this time.

  6. I will say the whistle on goodman for the tech was very fast for his reaction, and I don't think he even said anything to the ref.

    Lopez deserved a tech, but the Portland player also probably deserved a tech for the way he reacted to the play. Lopez needs to just chill out, it's not the first we've seen that behavior, he hates to be on the ground and flips a lid.

    Refs definitely had about 3-4 calls for UNLV where I was stumped at but still clapped my hands. The vast majority of whistles came from one ref out of the 3. I'd say 80% of whistles was from that guy.

  7. This is why I have so little respect for Mr. Bern, typical Gen Y/Millenial view of the world, everything has to be "fair". So, all basketball games should have an equal number of fouls to each team, regardless of how the game is being played. One team can hack the other on every play, and it is therefore incumbent on someone in authority, i.e., the refs, to make it "fair" and call fouls on the other side to right this terrible wrong. Gimme a break.

    UNLV deserved to get to the line because they were more physical in the second half, being more aggressive and drawing fouls, a fundamental aspect of winning at the college level. Teams that get to the line more than their opponents tend to win more often than not. That said, college refs have gotten more and more ridiculous as the years pass, taking 15 minutes to figure out "intent" of a player on instant replay over. and over. and over. The technical on Goodman was astonishing in its overreach. All he did was react, he wasn't "showing up" the refs, who apparently need to be protected from getting their feelings hurt whenever they make a questionable call.

  8. Great comment djonian81.

  9. Sorry, I have to acknowledge another great comment. Well said liljoe31