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December 21, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

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Instant Analysis: Giving up 11 straight points could have spelled disaster for UNLV basketball

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Chace Stanback pulls down a rebound against Colorado State during their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV vs. Colorado State: Feb. 1, 2012

UNLV forward Quintrell Thomas drives in for a layup against Colorado State during their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 82-63. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Rebels win again, beating Colorado State

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Las Vegas Sun reporters Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer break down the UNLV basketball team's victory against Colorado State on Feb. 1, 2012.

This scoring run could have been problematic in seasons past.

When the UNLV basketball team surrendered 11 consecutive points Wednesday to open the second half against visiting Colorado State, trimming a 13-point halftime lead to just two points, the Rebel players could have easily tightened up and eventually lost the game.

But they didn’t.

They never wavered from their strategy of playing pressure defense and fast-paced offense, eventually building their lead back to double digits in another comfortable win, 82-63. It's been the same drill for most of the season regardless of score or situation in the game — the Rebels rarely stop pressing.

What’s so impressive about the way the Rebels play is their athleticism. Oftentimes, they are more athletic than the opposition at every position on the court, creating mismatches and several easy baskets.

While Colorado State made things interesting early in the second half with its run, you never felt like the Rebels were in serious jeopardy of losing the game. With the offense capable of scoring in bunches at the blink of an eye, the Rebels will always be a threat to blow the game open — like that 18-2 run in the first half when the Rebels took the lead for good.

Here are some other observations from the game, instant analysis style:

Quintrell fills in nicely: The hardest part of being a bench player — in any sport — is not knowing when you’ll be called upon to enter the game or play significant minutes. With that in mind, huge props to Quintrell Thomas for a solid performance on the inside. Carlos Lopez was held out of Wednesday’s game while recovering from an injured ankle, giving valuable minutes to Thomas in relief of starter Brice Massamba in the post. Thomas didn’t disappoint. He finished with nine points on 3 of 4 shooting and six rebounds in 16 minutes. Thomas’ shooting style often looks unorthodox to this amateur eye, but you can’t fault the results. He’s actually proven to have a soft touch. You could easily call tonight’s game an audition for more minutes moving forward. If that’s the case, Thomas definitely earned a callback.

Moser’s shooting touch : Watching Mike Moser connect on 3 of 4 attempts from three-point range in the first half, I couldn’t help flashing back to earlier in the season when he struggled from the outside. In his first six games, he missed all 10 attempts on 3-pointers. Despite making two in the win against North Carolina to break the drought, you would have never expected the 3-pointer to be part of his arsenal. But it is. And it’s what makes him the most dangerous UNLV player on the court. Moser opened the second half in the double overtime win at Santa Barbara in late November with a 3-pointer and finished the game with seven from the beyond the arc. The rest is history. The range in his jumper, whether it’s a mid-range shot or 3-pointer, is a big reason why he’s mentioned as one of the best power forwards nationally. He’s the complete package.

By the numbers: If you weren’t already aware of how special this season of UNLV basketball is, here are some numbers to remind you of the Rebels’ dominance. With Wednesday’s win, the Rebels improved to 13-0 at the friendly confines of the Thomas & Mack Center — the best home mark since the 1991-92 season. Its 21-3 record to start the season is also the best since the ’91-92 campaign when the Rebels finished with a 26-2 mark. In case you forgot, there was some pretty good basketball being at UNLV in the early 1990s. And the Rebels are pretty good this year, too. Especially at home. At the Mack, they have won 12 of 13 games by double digits, and 11 games by at least 17 points. They are also scoring nearly 87 points per game at home.

Remembering coach Spoonhour: Former UNLV coach Charlie Spoonhour, one of the true gentlemen in college athletics, died today after a long battle with lung disease. I never directly covered the Rebels when he was the coach, but whenever I was assigned to report on the team, he always treated me with the same class and dignity of one of the team’s regular writers. Spoonhour did a great job bringing respectability back to the UNLV program. He’s best known for his time as the St. Louis coach, but in Las Vegas, he’ll always be considered a Rebel. As witnessed by a pregame ceremony, several fans feel the same way. Chants of ‘Spoon’ filled the arena after the tribute.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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