Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 | 5:51 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 | 9 p.m.
UNLV 89, Canisius 74
Anthony Bennett scored 21, fellow Canadian Khem Birch poured in 20 and No. 21 UNLV (11-1) pulled away in the final six minutes for a 89-74 victory against Canisius (8-3) on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels' offense rarely looked out of sync, and taken as a whole this has to be UNLV's best offensive performance as a team. They shot around 60 percent for the game by pounding the ball inside yet they still shot well from outside, hitting 50 percent on 12 3-point attempts.
Bryce Dejean-Jones had 12 points and six rebounds before getting stitches after he went down hard while committing an offensive foul. Anthony Marshall (eight assists) and Savon Goodman were also dealing with various injuries, though none of it affected the outcome. UNLV was simply too hot to be bothered by any one thing, which included 30 points from Canisius' Billy Baron.
The Rebels had five total players finish in double digit scoring, including Katin Reinhardt and Justin Hawkins. Reinhardt took a big step forward tonight, looking smart and composed during the entire game. He passed up open 3s to get the ball inside and found teammates in good positions.
The Rebels have some days off before returning to campus to prepare for their big road game on Dec. 29 at North Carolina. Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight's game.
UNLV 77, Canisius 60
6:29 remaining in the second half
UNLV is trying as hard as it can to shake Canisius, but up to this point the Golden Griffins have had an answer for every Rebels run. Now Canisius is fighting both the Rebels and the clock, and 2-on-1 may be too much to overcome.
Billy Baron has 23 points and Jordan Heath has got 11, but it's still a tick under the balanced attack UNLV has been throwing at them. Every Rebel that's played at least 12 minutes is playing some of the best offensive basketball of his respective season. Khem Birch, Katin Reinhardt, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Anthony Bennett and Justin Hawkins each have at least 10 points, and they've looked really impressive doing it.
The Golden Griffins may have finally run out of gas, but they deserve credit for putting up an excellent fight. This has been a really entertaining game featuring plenty of great plays on both sides.
UNLV 57, Canisius 52
13:53 remaining in the second half
It's a shame this is one of the few Rebels games not on TV this year, because this is quite a show. Anthony Bennett (17 points) and Canisius' Billy Baron (20 points) are the featured attractions but guys like Katin Reinhardt and the Golden Griffins' Jordan Heath have also been worth the price of admission.
Canisius on the last couple of possessions unveiled a zone defense, something I'm a bit surprised they hadn't used before. UNLV's first adjustments to it weren't good, but that's to be expected whenever there's a drastic change like that. The better judge of success will be how UNLV handles it over the next few minutes.
UNLV 46, Canisius 39
Anthony Bennett has 14 points, Khem Brich has scored 13 and UNLV goes into halftime blistering hot after shooting 64 percent from the field. The only reason UNLV's lead isn't bigger is because Canisius guard Billy Baron is keeping pace with 18 points.
This has been really exciting basketball at both ends. Multiple times the Rebels looked like they may pull away after getting up by 10, but Canisius kept coming up with answers. That's mostly been Baron, but Harold Washington has also chipped in with seven points.
Almost lost in the scoring is just how well UNLV freshman Katin Reinhardt has been playing. He's got eight points on 3-of-3 shooting, but that's been the result of his decision making more than just hitting shots. He's looked very smart in transition, quickly driving to the basket or kicking out to open men in lieu of taking a 3 that he could just as easily get at the end of the shot clock. This is his best game as a Rebel.
The starter at point guard, Anthony Marshall, hasn't been bad either, piling up seven assists to three turnovers. Overall the Rebels have been sloppy with the ball — 10 turnovers — but a lot of that is simply due to the pace of play. While coach Dave Rice would like that decrease that number, he's also known that some turnovers just come with the territory.
Not surprisingly it's 3-pointers are keeping Canisius in the game. The Golden Griffins are one of the nation's best shooting teams beyond the arc, and tonight they are 7-for-15 out there. If the Rebels can close out on shooters, or if Canisius suddenly goes cold out there, UNLV is going to have a chance to pull away.
UNLV 31, Canisius 21
7:53 remaining in the first half
The Rebels' best offensive performance of the year may have been in the first half last Wednesday against Northern Iowa. If that's the case, UNLV may have a new leader tonight.
The Rebels are shooting 69 percent from the floor, 75 percent behind the three-point line and 86 percent at the free-throw line. They have 10 assists on 11 made baskets, a number UNLV coach Dave Rice will be absolutely thrilled with.
UNLV's success is coming from the same inside out attack that worked so well the other night, with Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett combining for 17 points. This is what UNLV wants to be on offense. The only thing keeping the Golden Griffins in it right now is their 3-point shooting (5-for-10), which they're going to need to be stellar all night.
UNLV 14, Canisius 11
14:24 remaining in the first half
Canisius is already showing it's 3-point shooting is as good as advertised, knocking down a couple of shots in transition and forcing UNLV to respond to a quick deficit. That's exactly what the Rebels have done, though, and if the action so far is any indication we're in for a fast-paced game.
The teams are moving up and down the court with no regard for the shot clock. It's a drastic change from the Rebels' last two games, which were both played against teams often content to slow things down.
Anthony Bennett and Katin Reinhardt both have five points while Anthony Marshall has already racked up four assists with no turnovers.
If anyone thought the small school with the difficult pronunciation (it’s ca-NEE-shuhs) wouldn’t be a tough game for No. 21 UNLV (10-1) at 7 tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center, the morning college basketball games wiped that notion away.
In its most recent game, Canisius (8-2) went to Temple and won by 10. That alone is impressive because not many teams go to Temple and win by double digits. It went up another notch Saturday when the Owls went to Madison Square Garden and picked off No. 3 Syracuse by four.
Now, Canisius also played the Orange this season and it didn’t exactly go great for the Golden Griffins, but they played better in that game than the 85-61 final score indicates.
Canisius has a couple of 6-foot-10 post players, including Kansas State transfer Freddy Asprilla, but the team lives or dies with its guards. As a team, the Golden Griffins shoot a blistering 39.4 percent behind the 3-point line. Harold Washington (20-for-44) and Isaac Sosa (26-of-60) are the main catalysts in that regard, though the entire team shoots well.
The important thing for UNLV to remember in regard to those numbers is that the Rebels don’t have to keep pace beyond the arc. Even if Canisius starts the game blistering from deep, UNLV’s best offense will likely be with Anthony Bennett, Khem Birch and Quintrell Thomas pushing the Griffins around inside.
Canisius needs the 3s to fall. UNLV doesn’t, so it can’t get drawn into a 3-point shooting contest. That’s exactly what the Griffins would like to see happen because that’s their best chance to pull the upset like Temple did earlier today.
THE OTHER SIDE
Canisius projected lineup
G — Isaac Sosa, 6-3, Sr, 10.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 43.3 3fg%
G — Billy Baron, 6-2, Jr, 16.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.3 A-TO ratio
G — Harold Washington, 6-1, Sr, 15.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 45.5 3fg%
F — Chris Manhertz, 6-6, Jr, 6.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 53.7 fg%
F — Jordan Heath, 6-10, Jr, 9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 50 fg%
Sixth man — G, Alshwan Hymes, 6-2, Sr, 7.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 92.9 ft%
Best name: Freddy Asprilla, 6-10, Sr, F
Extra storyline: There are seven sets of brothers playing together in Division I basketball, and this is the second pair UNLV will face in its past three games. UTEP had Julian and Chris Washburn while Canisius has Jordan and Josiah Heath.
Useless Wikipedia factoid: The Canisius mascot is named Petey the Griffin, which isn’t far off the "Family Guy" protagonist, Peter Griffin.
Kenpom line: UNLV -14
Vegas line: UNLV -13.5
Bern’s take: It’s difficult to predict the look-ahead factor in the last game before holiday break, especially against a nonmajor opponent. However, UNLV coach Dave Rice should be able to keep his team focused just by pointing to today’s Syracuse score. UNLV 84, Canisius 66