UNLV basketball:

UNLV’s Mike Moser shakes off illness to carry Rebels to OT victory at Boise State

Rebels shot a season-high 3-pointers and a season-low shooting percentage, but Moser and Oscar Bellfield came up big to avoid upset

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Boise State’s Derrick Marks dunks in front of UNLV’s Quintrell Thomas during the first half of their game on Jan. 25, 2012, in Boise, Idaho.

UNLV vs. Boise State

KSNV coverage of UNLV Rebels taking on Boise State, Jan. 25, 2012.

BOISE, Idaho — Mike Moser's game plan was like that of a lion slowly stalking its prey — if the lion had a head cold, a sore throat and had thrown up a little earlier in the day.

Despite an illness that has kept him quarantined from the team except for their time on the court, Moser grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds and scored a team-leading 18 points, including five in the extra period of No. 12 UNLV's 77-72 overtime victory against Boise State.

Moser knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up the whole game. So he paced himself through the first half — four points, seven rebounds — and then pounced at opportune times the rest of the way.

“I tried to save everything I could for the second half,” Moser said. “The way they were making shots I figured it would go down to the wire so I figured I might as well save myself.”

About three minutes into the second half with the Rebels (19-3, 3-1) trailing by four, Moser hit consecutive 3-pointers, and then a few minutes later he put UNLV up four with another trey.

The Rebels' reliance on the 3-pointer would be a big issue throughout the game. The team attempted a season-high 34 3-point attempts and shot a season-low 34.8 percent from the field.

“It’s way too many 3s for us to shoot,” coach Dave Rice said. “One of the hardest things for how we like to play is that we want to play fast but we also want to take good shots. And today we settled for quick, semi-contested shots that are not in the flow of what we do.

“And the concerning thing for me is that we did the exact same thing for the majority of the game at San Diego State.”

That’s a problem. But the team also hit 3-pointers at key moments, like senior guard Oscar Bellfield's shot from deep that put UNLV up five with 2:06 left in overtime.

Despite UNLV’s 36 percent shooting behind the 3-point line going into that shot, Bellfield’s mentality was pretty simple.

“Just not even thinking about it, just let it go,” Bellfield said.

Rice’s offensive demands of his players run a fine line.

He wants them to play fast, but not reckless. He wants to play inside-out, but everyone should have confidence to shoot whenever they feel they’re open.

On Wednesday, the Rebels failed at the latter.

What they may have thought were open shots were contested looks on a possession when the ball never made it into the paint.

Rice said he didn’t feel like the decisions were an issue of discipline, just everyone trying to do too much.

“It’s more of guys being very competitive and trying to make big plays on their own,” Rice said, “but that’s not what we do.”

On UNLV’s final possession of regulation, Bellfield passed the ball into senior center Brice Massamba, who then dished it to Chace Stanback running free around the wing inside the 3-point line. Stanback’s jumper fell short off the rim, but Moser grabbed the offensive rebound and nearly went up for a shot attempt before getting it stripped away. Boise State’s Thomas Bropleh fell on the ball and called a timeout, giving the Broncos (10-9, 0-4) a chance to win with the scored tied at 64 and 30.4 seconds on the clock.

In a similar situation at San Diego State, the Rebels blew their defensive switch and allowed Jamaal Franklin to hit the game-winner.

This time, things went a lot better.

The Broncos’ Derrick Marks dribbled 30 feet from the basket until there were seven seconds left, and then when he attacked toward the lane the Rebels switched off the ball screen and forced him to pass to the corner where Moser blocked Bropleh’s off-balance 3-point attempt.

“My proudest sequence of the night was the last defensive stand of regulation, because it’s been defense that we’ve been able to count on all year long,” Rice said.

Moser seemed to barely notice that he was the one with the crucial block, instead pointing to the defense up top shutting off Marks’ entry into the lane.

“We just played the screen, finally, the way we thought we were going to play it all game,” Moser said.

The Rebels dominated overtime.

UNLV’s offensive rebounds held Boise State to one possession in the first two minutes, and after Bellfield’s 3-pointer the Broncos were forced to foul. Moser hit five free throws and Stanback hit a pair to ice the game.

“Once we got it to overtime, our guys looked at each other and said ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game,’” Rice said.

Stanback scored 15 points while Bellfield finished with 13 points and six assists. Junior guard Anthony Marshall had five points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes before fouling out with 3:17 to go in regulation.

Slow starts had been the Rebels’ biggest problem on the road, but Wednesday they jumped out to a 12-0 lead. In retrospect, that may have been part of the problem.

“It probably came a little too easy for us to start the game, because we made shots and they actually missed open shots, so a little bit of fool’s gold to get off to the start that we did,” Rice said.

It seems that any kind of start on the road can turn into trouble for UNLV. That’s just another thing to worry about as the Rebels play again on the road Saturday at Air Force.

By then, Moser should be feeling better. Although, considering his production, maybe a lingering illness wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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

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  1. Moser put this game on his back, and willed the Rebels into overtime... while he was sick. How can you not love that guy?

    To me, the Rebels seemed sloppy on their defensive switching. They were slow to get over and Boise took advantage at the switch...probably due to them taking their foot off the pedal early.

    It's not hard to see why they were 9-1 at home coming into this game. That atmosphere was crazy. Boise surely has great fans, and it was a tough loss for them.

  2. While I know he's trying to stretch out the defense, it would be great to see Moser come inside off the wing and be more of a down low presence in addition to the 3 big men. He's been so effective inside.

  3. I'm glad they were able to win one on the road. I'll take it. One game at a time.

  4. Hope Carlos Lopez and Marshall are ok...Carlos seemd to have hurt his foot pretty bad!

  5. May all the gods of the Universe bless this team! Go team go!

  6. I missed the opening of the game and turned it on when it was 12-0. Obviously I missed the best part of their night. The rest of the game, with an exception to the OT, was disturbing. The back to back poor road games has me worried. A win is a win but unless they get these road substandard performances straightened out the team will never move up to the next level. They are good enough to but maybe they just press to do too much on the road, I don't know. Hopefully they can learn a lot from this near miss to the league's worst team

  7. I agree with Casper. They definitely didn't look like the #12 team in the country last night.

  8. We definitely looked sloppy. This served as a wake up call. It's good timing. I think we needed it before this next stretch of games. We were fortunate to sneak away with a win. Looks like every team has an asterisk on their schedule next to the Rebels. The Broncos just wouldn't go away.

    I didn't realize Moser was so sick until the post game interview. That guy is amazing!

  9. Slow down with the worry. Its colelge basketball. fine line on winning. Duke last week, Carolina before that. Not to mention a sick Moser, and Carlos getting hurt along with Marshall. First half the balls were bouncing the wrong way. If memory serves the 1990 Championship team lost a few during the season. We good. Need to peak in March...late march.

  10. 1989--90 record 35--5 (16--2 Big West)

  11. I'm happy with a road win in a tough room, but when you are the #12 team, you don't have the luxury of struggling on every road game, and struggling in the same way every time.

    I was at the UNM game, and, aside from that being the most quiet sold-out arena I've ever been in, UNLV's second half was a display of poise and quality defense. Coach Augmon, settle these guys down and get them some consistence confidence on defense, because when they are on, they are ON, and they are a Top 10 team.

  12. I hear you, RebelJedi, I just don't want too many losses to unranked teams, and hurting their chances of getting into (or having a tougher schedule in) the tournament.

    Marshall's foul troubles made things tough. I know it sounds insignificant, but Massamba's 0-3 FT shooting bothered me (makes 1-2 of them and they win in regulation). Lopez injury isn't good. Not sure why Rice doesn't play Thomas more than he does, but it's easy for a fan to judge while watching the TV.

    Moser had an outstanding performance, especially considering his condition. I hope he can take it easy, rest up, and get healthy. They need him to be 100%. Though after that performance, maybe it's better if he's sick!

  13. I love how everyone can say "They don't look like #12" or they are letting the pressure get to them, yadda yadda. We didn't lose to Oklahoma St last night like #2 did, we didn't lose to Florida St like #4 Duke did, we didn't lose to Oklahoma like #18 Kansas St did. Been preaching that when it comes to conference games, everyone steps it up, nothing comes easy...especially on the road.

    Moser with some ESPN underrated player love: http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketbal...

  14. "when it comes to conference games, everyone steps it up"

    Sure, I agree 100%. But that should include UNLV, right? I think the challenge here is the consistency of UNLV's weaknesses. Road or home, defense is defense, and UNLV has a challenge manifesting consistent defensive intensity and performance -- a challenge magnified on the road.

    Not complaining or even criticizing (it's easy to coach from a couch), just pointing out what I have seen.

  15. Wade, something that I think will always work against UNLV when it comes to rankings, is that the Mountain West is not viewed as a strong conference. Those teams you mentioned above are all powerhouse sports colleges (not necessarily basketball, and not necessarily this year, but they have resources).

    Duke lost to FSU, but that's the ACC and, I'm sure you know, people/media just think it's a better conference. (FSU also beat UNC the previous week, so they were viewed as a pretty strong team that just hasn't performed this year.)

    That's just an example. Whether it's fair or not, I think UNLV and other Mountain West teams have to consistently prove that they're quality programs, so they can't afford any losses to weak teams.

  16. I was happy UNLV was able to pull out a win against Boise State. Initially you could see BSU was somewhat intimidated, but once they caught fire and their amazing fans got into the game it almost spelled Disaster for the Rebels. After UNLV built that 12-0 lead, they became complacent and seemd to put their motor on idleing speed. BSU took advantage and played a strong game. I feel bad for BSU, they deserved to win. As the #12 ranked team in the nation UNLV needs to play at full speed no matter who they are playing, they may not be so lucky the next time. UNLV fans learn from BSU, SDSU, & UNM on how to support your nationally ranked team. The T&M arena should be rowdy and rockin....

  17. I'd say UNLV did play like a highly ranked team. Every night will not be perfect but they hit some huge shots and showed a lot of heart when they could have folded. They got it done when things weren't clicking. That's a mark of a good team, I'd say.

  18. @Hoosier Boy: Don't know where you getting that the T&M isn't rowdy & rocking. Every game that is close the crowd steps up and supports the Rebels like no other team on the West Coast! That's not just my opinion, several articles have stated the T&M is one hellava venue. I have been going to Rebel games since 1970 and when we have a team that plays hard the fans cheer hard! You think that Coach Rice is just thanking the fans for their support because it is the gracious thing to do?

  19. @improvelv- Yep...The fact isnt Massambas free throw shooting as much as WHEN he is shooting them...I get concerned when we RUN plays for him in crunch time. In my humble opinion you cant do that. Id rather see Carlos than him in the last few minutes...soon they will foul him just to put him on the line...Hack-A - Samba

  20. FACT- Rebels live off their pressure defense. Fact, Referees on the road call the game tightly when they are pressuring the ball...rebs gotta know that and adapts...but they didnt get the turnovers or the type of turnovers that feed easy baskets....At Home they play stronger defense.

  21. I agree that the Rebels played poorly last night and were fortunate to escape with a win, but I think there's been a little over reaction to playing a bad game. They beat Illinois pretty soundly on the road; they handled a pretty good Hawaii team in a tough place to play; they pounded Cal State Bakersfield; and then the next road game at San Diego St. would have been a victory if they didn't miss so many free throws (it certainly wasn't SDSU's defense that caused the Rebels to go 11 for 21 from the line!). Again, they played poorly last night and hopefully won't play that poorly the rest of the year, but every team plays a bad game every now and then. If they play another bad game at Air Force on Saturday then there might be cause for concern, but saying that they are not very good on the road based on the game last night might be a little quick judgment. I still think this team can play with anybody in the country on a neutral floor and I expect them to make a run in the NCAA Tournament this year. I think we will see a far better Rebel team on Saturday.

  22. @improve, This season, in basketball, MWC is doing better than the ACC so far as a conference. MWC is finally getting some recognition nationally, and all the teams have improved and won the games needed to win. Also, they aren't the teams like Louisville , UNC, UK, Duke, etc who play all of their games at home in the non-con and immediately when they go on the road they lose. MWC teams have been traveling and winning against difficult opponents. That's why mid-major teams now are getting so much media attention in the past few years because they are ready for the tournament and playing on the road. Look whats happened to the PAC-12. Terrible. Look at the Conference stats and you will find that MWC is doing great. http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_...

  23. I want to see the Rebels end up with a good national ranking so that we don't get stuck in that damn 8-9 seeding in the NCAA's.

  24. We won. Thats all that matters. There is no such thing as a "gimme" road conf game in any conf, anywhere, regardless of rank. Anything can happen in a single game. We carved them and closed them out with authority in OT. We made the plays we had to in order to win the game. End of story. Did we shoot too many 3s? Obviously. Did we not get it into the post enough? Obviously. Did we not pressure & deny their first pass enough? Obviously. All of those observations came straight out of Rice's mouth post game. The coaches are on it. Learn, improve, and move on. Bring on AF.

  25. Dear Las Vegas Sun,
    Next time, how about we have the main picture of your article be something other than one of our big men getting posterized!! Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Concerned Rebel Fan

  26. I appreciate the great years Oscar has given to UNLV,However, when any player in a prolonged slump (even though he improved against BSU)it's time the coaching staff takes the pressure off him and go to the bench.When you have a player of Reggie Smith's ability and shooting lights out,why the delay in making this move? Comeon' if Oscar is having a tough go..go to Reggie and give him more than 2-3 minutes.