Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, March 3, 2012 | 9:05 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Taylor Bern talk about the UNLV basketball team's 74-63 victory against Wyoming on Senior Night in the regular season finale. They also breakdown next week's Mountain West Conference tournament — where UNLV is the No. 3 seed.
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At this point of the season, the scouting report on the UNLV basketball team isn’t going to change.
The Rebels typically start the game strong in building an early lead, but eventually suffer through a stretch of uninspired play — which, when playing on the road, has spelled disaster.
They are excellent when pushing the ball up the court in transition. And not so excellent — sloppy, mistake prone and too much standing around — in running their offense in halfcourt sets.
They look like a threat to make some noise in the postseason when their shots are falling, especially the 3-pointer. Then again, you could probably make the same argument about several other teams.
The Rebels are good at home. Real good.
UNLV’s 74-63 victory Saturday against Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack Center in the regular-season finale gave the Rebels an undefeated record in home games for the first time in 20 years — to the day, when Jerry Tarkanian coached his last UNLV home game.
UNLV improved to 25-7 overall and 9-5 in the Mountain West Conference and will be the No. 3 seed for next week’s league tournament. But the Rebels have just a 5-4 record since Feb. 1 and certainly aren’t playing their best basketball of the season. Remember, they were 16-2 in early January entering league play.
We’ll see in the upcoming weeks if the Rebels can duplicate the early-season magic, but fighting off Wyoming on Saturday when they didn’t play their best is a good start. And, having the league tournament on their home court — “neutral court” — of the Mack won’t hurt either.
Here are some observations from the game:
The perfect record at home: In a town that only supports winning teams, the fact the Rebels’ Saturday game sold-out speak volumes to the current state of the program. UNLV is winning and locals are firmly on the Rebels’ bandwagon. The Mack was sold out earlier this season for games against New Mexico and San Diego State — the two most significant Mountain West Conference games of the season. Wyoming isn’t a rival. The Cowboys aren’t ranked and there are several better Saturday night entertainment options in Las Vegas. Not every game this winter had the excitement of the mid-February tilt with San Diego State, or Saturday’s “white-out” game with Wyoming. But attendance was up all season and was a big reason why UNLV posted a 17-0 home record. I can remember going to UNLV games as a child in the late 1980s and how loud the arena was every night. That excitement is back. Like most longtime Las Vegans, I seriously doubted these days would return. After all, before this season, there were just three sellouts in 19 years.
If Mike Moser is on his game, so is UNLV: Mike Moser’s last four games entering Saturday have been an absolute disaster, including make just 1 of 10 shots and scoring five points Wednesday in the loss at Colorado State. This coming from a player who started the season so hot for the Rebels that fans feared the sophomore would be declaring for the NBA Draft after the season. Moser started to resemble his old self in the win, draining a pair of 3-pointers in the first half and finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds. It’s far from the early-season domination, but it's the first time he has scored in double digits since Feb. 14 at TCU. The 6-foot-8 Moser is a special talent with the size and athleticism that gives UNLV an edge in transition. He can lead the fast break, knock down a 3-pointer and take the ball to the basket. Welcome back, Mike.
Kendall Wallace’s memorable Senior Night : Kendall Wallace says his surgically repaired knee is feeling better toward the end of the season than it did at the beginning. His performance Saturday confirmed that. Wallace had season-high 14 points, including a four-point play midway through the second half to help UNLV fight off a valiant effort from Wyoming. Wallace, a sharpshooter who plays about 8 to 10 minutes per game off the bench, earned the start because of Senior Night and didn’t disappoint in making 3-of-4 from behind the arc. He’ll be a usable part of the rotation in the upcoming weeks during tournament games because he has the potential to hit that game-winning shot. Wallace missed last year after injuring his ACL while playing a pickup game and his final year clearly hasn’t gone as planned. But it is far from over. Don’t be surprised if Wallace comes up big again for the Rebels. He’s definitely earned the opportunity with his performance against Wyoming. ... Speaking of a great Senior Night performance: Brice Massamba scores a career-high 15 points in his last official home game at the Mack.