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Blog: Justin Hawkins’ steal seals UNLV’s thrilling 65-63 victory against San Diego State

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Sam Morris

This is a three photo sequence of UNLV forward Mike Moser dunking on San Diego State forward Garrett Green during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 65-63.

Updated Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 | 3:07 p.m.

UNLV vs. SDSU - Feb. 11, 2012

This is a three photo sequence of UNLV forward Mike Moser dunking on San Diego State forward Garrett Green during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 65-63. Launch slideshow »

In the final seconds, Justin Hawkins stole the ball from Xavier Thames and sealed the Rebels' 65-63 victory against San Diego State.

The Aztecs took a lead late in the game and looked like they might have a chance to extend their winning streak to seven games against the Rebels, but UNLV finally made the plays necessary to defeat their rival.

Mike Moser finished with a team-leading 19 points, nine rebounds and six steals. Oscar Bellfield scored 15 and Brice Massamba finished with 12, 10 of which he scored in the second half.

Chace Stanback made two steals in the final 40 seconds, both on Jamaal Franklin, that helped UNLV keep the Aztecs from taking control of the game.

With 13 seconds left, Stanback had a chance to put UNLV up three at the free-throw line, but missed the front-end of a one-and-one. That's when Hawkins sailed in, grabbed it and waited to get fouled, giving himself a chance to do the same at the free-throw line. He hit the first, but missed the second.

The Aztecs scrambled for a few seconds before bringing the ball up the court. Then, just as Xavier Thames prepared to set-up SDSU's final attempt, Hawkins poked the ball away and sailed down the court with it.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report of UNLV's thrilling victory.

Aztecs keep hanging around as the Rebels lead 58-50 with 7:53 remaining

Instead of continuing to feed the post, UNLV has started shooting (and missing) several 3-pointers, which has allowed the Aztecs hang around. UNLV leads 58-50 with 7:53 remaining in the game.

Mike Moser and Oscar Bellfield have combined for 32 points but UNLV is 6-for-23 behind the three-point line. The Rebels had found a rhythm with Brice Massamba in the paint. As soon as he came out of the game, though, the Rebels abandoned the paint.

As long as the Rebels keep doing that, the Aztecs are going to have a chance with a couple of minutes left.

Brice Massamba has eight points in the 2nd half as UNLV leads 45-36

Dave Rice often says that Brice Massamba is the most overlooked player on his roster, but early in the second half he's showing up big-time for the Rebels, who now lead 45-36 with 15:42 remaining in the game.

Massamba has four second-half baskets, giving him 10 points and four rebounds for the game. The Aztecs have a very limited interior presence and the Rebels are exploiting it to their full advantage.

Rebels storm past the Aztecs and take a 37-29 halftime lead

The Rebels' offensive start looked like more of the same against the Aztecs, but about six minutes in UNLV flipped a switch, turned up the pace and at halftime the Rebels lead 37-29.

UNLV was settling for (and missing) a lot of outside shots before ever working the ball inside, which allowed San Diego State to get out to a decent lead. But as soon as the Rebels started forcing turnovers and getting out in transition, the momentum changed.

UNLV's defense has forced nine turnovers and the offense has 10 assists on 14 made baskets. Those have been the key stats in Rebels victories and those have to be the main concerns for San Diego State going forward.

Mike Moser is leading all scorers with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting. He also has four rebounds and three steals in 18 minutes, while Oscar Bellfield has eight points and four assists.

The Rebels came out maybe too amped for this game, but those nerves are behind them and now it's just about maintaining the type of play that they settled into in the first half.

UNLV picks up the pace and shifts momentum, but San Diego State still leads 22-20

In the first six minutes there wasn't a single stoppage of play. Since then the fouls have mounted but the pace on the floor is only speeding up, which favors UNLV in the long run. With 7:47 left in the first half, San Diego State leads 22-20.

Oscar Bellfield set the Mack off with a transition slam and overall the Rebels are finding easy baskets in transition. Their only offensive problem right now is that they're settling for too many outside shots, to the tune of 2-for-8 behind the three-point line.

San Diego State has battled the pace with crisp offensive passes and movement to the open man. As long as they keep UNLV off-balance, then the Rebels won't be able to get too far out in front.

Rebels come out shooting cold as the Aztecs take an early 11-4 lead

UNLV's offense looks similar to the first-half struggles it had in San Diego on Jan. 14 as the Aztecs are out to an 11-5 lead with 14:03 left in the first half.

The Rebels' Mike Moser is 0-for-4, with UNLV's only baskets coming from an Oscar Bellfield 3-pointer and a jumper from Brice Massamba. San Diego State has looked far more composed and comfortable in its offense thus far.

UNLV's shot will likely come around, but its defense needs to make sure that the Rebels aren't very far behind at that point.

UNLV attempts to exorcise its demons against San Diego State

Game day is finally here.

At 1 p.m., No. 14 UNLV hosts No. 13 San Diego State with a chance to end its six-game losing streak to the Aztecs. With a sell-out crowd, the Thomas & Mack Center will be rocking as soon as the doors open. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network (Ch. 38).

The problem for the Rebels in a lot of these recent, closes loses to the Aztecs was on the interior. UNLV simply didn’t have the size to compete.

But this year that’s not the case, and the 69-67 loss in San Diego on Jan. 14 was attributable more to missed shots than anything else. That’s been a concern for the Rebels in multiple road games, but not at home. UNLV is 13-0 at home and only one of those victories was by less than 10 points.

So really, the only thing the Rebels need to do to end the streak is play their style. UNLV is the better, more athletic team, and with the crowd behind them the Rebels should be able to get out and run like they want to.

The only thing that could get in their way is a mental block against SDSU.

After losing six in a row and nine out of 10 to one team, a primary rival no less, the Rebels want this victory so bad that it could affect their play if they’re not careful.

An uptight Rebels bunch is also an ineffective one. It will be interesting to see if the Rebels come out firing, as they generally do at home, or if the rims are as unkind as they were at Viejas.

If it’s the former, as bookmakers (UNLV -9.5) are expecting, it could be a long day for San Diego State.

Bern’s prediction: The game’s in this series have had a way of falling the Aztecs’ way, but UNLV is the better team, and when the better team is playing at home there’s only one way to go. UNLV 82, San Diego State 70.

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  1. This is it! Make it happen boys! Crowd needs to be ELECTRIC!

  2. UNLV has some weapons. Marshall can certainly play the point; he can resemble Julius Erving in a few different ways.

  3. Is it just me, or did it seem that they were taking (and missing) too many 3s when solid 2s would get the job done in the last 8 min or so?

    An exciting game with another nail biter at the end.

  4. Great win boys! If we had an inside game that was a little more "solid", we would be unstoppable. I was also a little dissapointed with the lack of passing late in the game. It seemed like a few of the Rebels were infected with "Kobe syndrome" late in the second half. Still a solid win that will only increase their confidence for March Madness.

  5. Tough loss for SDSU, they played smarter and harder, and almost stole a win. UNLV blew a 13 point lead, due to complacency, poor shot selection and selfish play by Anthony Marshall. Anthony was not having one of his best scoring days, rather than continue his poor shot selection and selfish play, he should of turned to stepping up his defense and assisting, found other ways to help the team. Three point shots are indeed crowd pleasing, but close range shots are just as good. UNLV has to establish an inside game, which they did early in the second half and it was working. Sure they won, and sure it will boost their chances in getting a higher seed come selection time, but the victory was not a pretty one. No, this is not a team that is going to advance very far. Another lucky win for UNLV.

  6. Come on HoosierBoy! A win is a win and it seems like you just like to hate on the Rebels.

  7. Was I wrong or was Shabazz at the game.

  8. But its okay to call somebody selfish who clearly shows as much heart as any player on the floor.