UNLV basketball:

UNLV crushes Cal State Bakersfield with its depth in 89-57 victory

Rebels close out the non-conference season with a convincing win that saw everyone get involved

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall dunks on Cal State-Bakersfield during their game Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. UNLV won their final non-conference game 89-57.

UNLV vs. Cal Sate Bakersfield

KSNV coverage of UNLV Rebels playing Cal State Bakersfield, Jan. 5, 2012.

UNLV vs. Cal State-Bakersfield

UNLV's Mike Moser, Carlos Lopez, Oscar Bellfield and Brice Massamba celebrate a Karam Mashour dunk against Cal State-Bakersfield during their game Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. UNLV won their final non-conference game 89-57. Launch slideshow »

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The UNLV basketball team wrapped up the non-conference portion of its schedule with a familiar refrain: dominate the second half.

The Rebels (16-2) went on the road and defeated Cal State Bakersfield 89-57. And although the outcome was never really in doubt, UNLV entered halftime ahead by 11 and lucky that the Roadrunners (7-9) weren’t closer. Then came a 16-2 run.

Like waves crashing into the beach, the Rebels relentlessly attack teams until the pressure is simply too much.

“We try to get after them until we get tired,” senior guard Oscar Bellfield said. “And then we rotate.”

No. 17 UNLV shot 51.3 percent in the second half Thursday night, the 11th time this season that it has shot at least 50 percent after halftime. That’s a staggering figure, and it would seem to suggest that the credit goes to the offense.

But the Rebels’ offensive style starts with defensive pressure, and sophomore forward Mike Moser said team defense was the focal point at the break.

Coach Dave Rice wasn’t happy that his team had given up nine offensive rebounds in the first half. He knew if his team kept the Roadrunners off the boards, then the Rebels could get into their transition game.

In the first four minutes of the second half, Bakersfield missed four shots, committed three turnovers and collected only one rebound, which was on the defensive end. The result was a 25-point deficit and a Rebels rout.

“Our guys are a very confident group in the second half,” Rice said. “… That begs the question, ‘Why don’t we play a little bit better in the first half?’ We need to figure that out. But it’s a good sign that we’re as deep, that we’re as conditioned as we are.”

Seven Rebels played at least 20 minutes and two more played 13 minutes each. And that doesn’t even include senior center Brice Massamba, who should be healthy enough to play by the conference opener on Jan. 14 at San Diego State.

Moser led the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds — his eighth double-double of the season. Junior guard Justin Hawkins also scored 17 points in 22 minutes while junior guard Anthony Marshall notched 12 points and six rebounds.

Rice has enough players in whom he trusts to perform that he could send in a full line change without many reservations.

“Once again I think our depth wore a team out,” Rice said.

Besides getting the victory, it was important for UNLV to get out of this game healthy. With the game against the Aztecs looming, the Rebels need to be at full strength in order to start strong in the Mountain West.

That looked to be in doubt midway through the second half when sophomore center Carlos Lopez went down with an ankle injury. However, Lopez, who got his first career start in place of Massamba, returned a short time after getting it looked at in the locker room.

After the game he had ice on his right ankle, but his consistency in the game’s final minutes put to rest any worries about his health.

The Rebels get nine days to heal their bumps and bruises before playing a game again. They also have that time to reflect on how they’ve gotten to this point. And when they do, balance will certainly be one of the topics.

“We have different players that can score different nights,” Bellfield said.

Five different Rebels have led the team in scoring for a game this season, including four different players in the last five games.

Leading scorer Chace Stanback, who came into the game having hit 21-of-29 3-pointers, missed his first seven shots and finished just 2-of-12. But you would never know that from looking at the score.

That’s because UNLV can count on another wave to come crashing in.

Thursday night, Bellfield, who had been in a bit of an offensive slump, helped fill the void with 13 points, his most since the 90-80 victory against North Carolina on Nov. 26.

UNLV has accomplished a lot so far. Just imagine what they’ve got in store for the second half.

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

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  1. Amazing. Last season, when the Rebels would lose a game, there would have already been two dozen haters here, commenting on how bad Las Vegas is, how bad UNLV's team is, how bad UNLV is as an academic institution, blah blah blah.

    Now the Rebels are 16-2, ESPN calls them the "best in the west" and Dave Rice and Stacey Augmon (et al) are leading a talented team to old-school greatness, nobody has anything to say.

    Thank you, Rebels and coaching staff, for bringing back a taste of Old Vegas civic pride. Some of us appreciate you.

  2. James, unfortunately there are still haters like Sinatra711, GoBruins, Lobo69, and a few others. But you're right, there aren't as many and the ones that are left don't have too much to say. When they do say something, it's usually something inane like "I'm happy the Rebels are winning, but I just want them to focus on the next game." So they think that the comments they post on an internet message board are being read and taken to heart by the players and they don't want them to get a big head.

    Like you, I'm rather enjoying the success the Rebels have had this season and it's fun to see them back in the national rankings, in the news, and getting good press all around. There's nothing to hate and everything to love about this team, and I think more and more people are climbing back on the bandwagon. I've had season tickets for years so I've been with them the whole time, but we will be happy to welcome back the people that jumped off the bandwagon if they show up to the games and rock the Thomas & Mack. Even the haters are welcome if they stop hating and start appreciating.

    Great job by Dave Rice, his staff, the players, and even Lon Kruger and his staff for getting this team to 16-2. We also should thank UCLA coach Ben Howland for playing a terrible style that Chace Stanback and Mike Moser didn't want to be a part of. Both the present and the future are very bright!

  3. The future is bright, indeed, and not just for Rebel basketball, but for all of Las Vegas. I've been watching the team since (current radio color commentator) Robert Smith was on the 1977 Final Four Squad (earlier, actually, but that's as far back as my memory serves), and was lucky enough to be a UNLV senior during 1990's championship season.

    If you want to read some *great* coverage of the role UNLV basketball has played for Las Vegas, google "Greg Blake Miller" - he has written some impressive features that offer insight into not just the Rebels, but our community.

  4. "That mentality drives every element of this city."

    Speak for yourself, sir, because you don't speak for this native.

  5. Daniel, don't confuse negativity with rationalism. Expecting the worst from every situation is no more wise, smart, or rational, then expecting the best from every situation. The reality is somewhere in the middle, and in the case of "success", it will always be subjective or relative. I'm just letting you know, because you seem to believe that being critical or negative about every situation in life somehow makes you intelligent. In my opinion it just makes you depressing.

    Another well played game from the Rebels, especially in the second half. I moved to vegas in the early 90s so I missed the glory days of the Running Rebels, but this UNLV team seems to be the deepest and most talented I've seen. Looking forward to the journey through conference play.

  6. Yes, my two biggest hopes for 2012 are UNLV winning championship, and Ruben Kihuen winning primary for 1st Congressional District against Dina Titus!

  7. Well done closing out the non-conference schedule Rebels! I wish the team luck in the future, and the MWC is no joke this season moving forward into conference play. Everyone seems to be dangerous in different ways.

    Above all else, I'm so glad sufferinsuccotash has eaten copious amounts of crow now and retracted back into their troll hole.

  8. Team sounds like the same tool who hates his life, and probably bashes Obama over the economy being in free fall, although it was bushes fault. All that garbage he's ranting is pure hate, bigotry and subjective trash. We are ranked for a reason, imbecile. Wins over UNC, UNR, Illinois, Cal, and Hawaii on the road says it all. Players suck? Team sucks? We are a hair away from landing a 5 star, McDonald's all American transfer, the number one overall recruits dad continues to show up to UNLV's practice routinely, we've landed a monster PG in our upcoming recruiting class and a major shot blocker who can also grab rebounds and out up solid points.

    Returners

    Anthony Marshall
    Justin Hawkins
    Reggie Smith
    Mike Moser
    Carlos Lopez
    Quintrell Thomas

    Newcomers

    Bryce Jones
    Katin Reinhardt
    Daquan Cook
    Demetrius Morant

    Potentials

    Shabazz Mohammad
    Khem Birch
    Anthony Bennett
    Pelle

    ...that's a top five team in the country. Adding in freshman with veterans...easy recipe for a final four team. Add in another shot blocker and lets say the best recruit in the country. National title contenders. So, again, you're animosity should be left in a dark closet and curled up in a fetal position because obviously you hate greatness. We are back, and soon to be making a deep run in the upcoming tournament. Hate us but love us buddy.