Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 | 9:20 p.m.
- UNLV Notes: Giving up offensive rebounds on the whole team, not just post players
- BOX SCORE: TCU 102, UNLV 97 in OT
- UNLV basketball will try to play with a sense of urgency on quick turnaround at TCU
- Rebels ranked No. 11 in both polls following weekend victory against No. 13 San Diego State
- UNLV’s Moser again honored as the Mountain West Player of the Week
- UNLV can move forward without the burden of losing streak to San Diego State
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
FORT WORTH, Texas — One Vegas kid had the night of his life. Problem is, he’s on the other team.
No one had a chance to stop TCU’s Hank Thorns, a Valley graduate, down the stretch, not when he was hitting turn-around, fade-away 3-pointers over outstretched arms. But it was No. 11 UNLV’s defensive laziness early in the game that allowed him to get going and sewed the seeds for the Rebels’ collapse in a 102-97 overtime loss.
“It was the shots that he got to get him going that was the disappointing fact,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “He made some shots at the end of the game that nobody could guard, but the problem was giving him confidence to start the game.”
UNLV (22-5, 6-3) led by as many as 18 points in the second half and gave up 19 offensive rebounds, stats the Rebels will likely think about every night before they go to sleep.
On Monday, Rice talked about playing the game right away with a sense of urgency. But the message didn’t take. Less than three minutes into the game, he had already called a timeout and was watching possessions with his hands and his head and anger in his eyes.
The defensive effort didn’t get any better throughout the game, which is how TCU (15-10, 5-4) was able claw its way back and tie the game on one of Thorns’ eight 3-pointers with just less than three minutes remaining. Thorns finished with a career-high 32 points.
That turn-around 3 from well behind the line — “Not exactly how we drew it up,” TCU coach Jim Christian said of the shot — came with 1:21 left in overtime. It put TCU up by five, just after fellow Vegas native Anthony Marshall had hit a 3-pointer that pulled the Rebels within two.
In its two other overtime conference games on the road, UNLV was the aggressor in the extra period. But this time it was TCU as Thorns keyed the Horned Frogs to a 4-0 start. TCU never trailed in overtime.
When the buzzer sounded, Thorns jumped on top of the scorer’s table and let out a scream then shed a few tears as he shared a hug with his father on the court. During the summer, Thorns played with most of if not all the Rebels and he’s known Marshall since they were both in grade school.
This was his chance for a big moment. He seized it.
“If it was all over today, I’d be pleased,” Thorns said.
Conversely, this was the Rebels’ chance to answer questions and prove something about how they could play on the road. They let it slip away.
There were three plays that defined the Rebels’ game.
The first was senior center Brice Massamba fourth foul, which occurred with just less than 10 minutes left in the game. When he left the game UNLV led by 15. When he came back it was down to six.
“I thought that changed the whole game,” Rice said. “He was in a rhythm.”
Rice loves the flow that Massamba brings to the offense. More importantly to Tuesday’s game, during that stretch the already struggling defense gave up four offensive rebounds that TCU converted into five points.
The second play was the final possession of regulation. TCU tied the game at 85 with 2:10 remaining, and it remained tied as UNLV inbounded the ball with 7.7 seconds left.
Before he could even ignite the offense, senior guard Oscar Bellfield turned the ball over and UNLV was lucky that the clock ran out on TCU.
Maybe the most disconcerting thing for UNLV fans is that this loss was just a more extreme example of the same problems that have plagued the Rebels on the road. UNLV shot 58 percent in the second half — and more than midway through had a percentage north of 70 — but eight turnovers limited the number of possessions they had.
That was a problem in the first half against both Air Force and Wyoming, and at the end of regulation Tuesday it cost the Rebels even a shot at winning the game.
The final play that encapsulated UNLV’s rugged night came with about 40 seconds left in overtime.
With the Horned Frogs ahead by three, TCU’s Garlon Green took an open shot along the baseline. TCU had beat the defense, again, but the shot caromed off the rim, down toward a crowd of UNLV players. Only none of them came up with it.
TCU’s J.R. Cadot positioned himself in the middle of the crowd, grabbed the rebound and put back a layup for a five-point lead.
UNLV’s defense had been given a second chance on Green’s miss, but they didn’t work hard enough to take advantage.
“That just comes down to effort and commitment,” Rice said.
The Rebels found a few different ways to describe the loss.
Disappointing. Frustrating. Inexcusable.
All of them cut to the same nerve.
They failed, and it hurts.
“It’s a painful, painful loss,” Rice said.