Analysis:

UNLV Extras: Can UNLV do something about its rising number of turnovers?

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV head coach Dave Rice talks to guard Anthony Marshall after their game against Colorado State Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won 61-59.

UNLV vs. Colorado State: Feb. 20, 2013

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall takes his game winning shot over the top of Colorado State guard Dorian Green during their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won 61-59. Launch slideshow »

There was a lot of talk at the beginning of conference season about the Rebels’ brutal opening four-game stretch, which included trips to New Mexico, San Diego State and Colorado State. Of course, that meant UNLV (20-7, 7-5) would get all three clustered together in the Thomas & Mack Center on the way back, and now that it’s all over, you have to call it a success.

Following Wednesday's 61-59 victory, UNLV went 4-2 against those teams, which currently rank first (UNM, 9-2), second (CSU, 8-3) and third (SDSU, 7-5) in the Mountain West. The Rebels are tied with the Aztecs, whom they swept in the regular-season series.

Just getting to the conference tournament title game in March will likely require defeating one of these teams again for the right to face another one of them. If that scenario plays out, the Rebels should have confidence against any one of those teams, considering the games are played in the Mack.

Anthony Marshall’s first game-winner

I was kind of surprised Wednesday night when the senior point guard said that his go-ahead jumper with nine seconds left was the first game-winner of his 128-game UNLV career.

While that certainly seems plausible, I felt I had seen him take so many late-game shots that surely one of them had to drop in with the game one the line. But glancing through the last two years of play-by-plays backs him up.

He’s had some close calls — Marshall missed a game-tying layup with 10 seconds left in the loss to Oregon earlier this year and missed a layup in the finals seconds last year at Wyoming before tipping his miss out to Mike Moser, who also missed a shot — but no game-winners that I could find. There were some last-minute go-ahead shots, like the layup he made at home against SDSU last year or the free throws he hit to extend a one-point lead to three against UNR, also last season.

In late-game situations, Marshall almost always starts the possessions with the ball — he is the point guard, after all — so I think that may have skewed my memory of how many shots he’s taken with the game on the line. If I’m missing any notable situations from his first two years (or the last two) add them down in the comments.

Turnover problem

Against both SDSU and CSU, UNLV committed exactly 17 turnovers. It’s the most in back-to-back games since the end of nonconference, when the Rebels committed 17, 21, 19 and 17 turnovers, starting with the loss at North Carolina and ending with the loss at New Mexico.

Turnovers are always going to be a part of UNLV’s offense, but the number is too high both on its face and because the Rebels don’t really play fast enough to justify turning the ball over about one out of every five possessions.

Only 35 percent of the Rebels’ shots come within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock off turnovers, rebounds or an opponents’ score, according to hoop-math.com. That’s less than the percentage of shots between 11-35 seconds of the shot clock after a made shot (36), let alone all of the other scenarios.

UNLV ranks last in the conference and in the bottom 85 of the country in turnovers per game (14.7). That’s balanced somewhat by top-10 assists numbers (17 per game, currently tied for sixth in the nation), though a lot of those are just the result of the way the Rebels play. So are the turnovers, to a degree, but more than 15 is always too many. The fact UNLV has committed double-digit turnovers in every game this season says something, and it’s obviously not good. In a lot of those games, it’s not necessarily a bad thing — UNLV coach Dave Rice wants the team to take risks — but it’s not good, either.

It would be a positive thing to see the Rebels work on valuing the basketball a little more in the final four regular season games, especially on the road, where good shots are harder to come by and possessions are more valuable.

Odds and ends

• “Even though his numbers don’t stand out his leadership does. We’re a different team (when he leads),” Rice said.

Any guesses whom Rice was referring to?

At this time last year, Moser had 13 double-doubles on his way to a first-team all-conference spot. This year, he has three double-doubles and Rice is taking time to commend him on a game in which he played 12 minutes with two points, one rebound and three fouls.

It’s amazing when you consider just how much has changed for Moser in the past year. Obviously, Rice and the team still very much value Moser’s contributions off the court, but to be this late in the year without getting much on-court production from him game-to-game is startling when compared to last season.

• It’s going to seem like I’m trolling here, but honestly watching this blocking call live I thought it was either a no call or a travel on Greg Smith. But after seeing the replay, which was posted to point out how bad it was, I can see how you could justify a blocking foul. Anthony Bennett flopped, which caused Smith to fall over.

Click to enlarge photo

UNLV forward Savon Goodman and Colorado State forward Greg Smith bang in the paint during their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won 61-59.

• I don’t mean to keep harping on this, but after going 0-for-3 against CSU, senior guard Justin Hawkins is now 1-for-25 on 3-point attempts in his last 10 games. That stretch includes four of the Rebels’ seven losses, and while those aren’t directly connected there’s certainly a correlation.

Hawkins used to be counted on to hit one or two big 3-pointers in a close game, but right now he’s a liability when pulling up for a shot, because those are a lot of empty possessions.

• There was a stark difference between how Rice and CSU coach Larry Eustachy used their rotations Wednesday.

Eustachy used only seven guys, an extremely short bench that saw everyone play at least 17 minutes. Meanwhile, Rice used 11 guys with all six off the bench playing less than 17 minutes each.

Most coaches shorten their rotation around the start of league play but Rice seems to still like using a lot of guys in the first half to get his regulars a brief rest. He also has made more of an effort to get freshman Savon Goodman on the court.

Goodman played 16 minutes, his career high in league play. Also notable was that Marshall played only 29 minutes, the first time he’s been under the 30-minute mark since Jan. 3 against Chicago State.

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

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  1. You left out Marshall's missed game winner against Cal this year, in which Q cleaned up for him.

  2. Yeah too many unnecessary turnovers caused by poor dicision making. Reinhardt sometimes tries to makes passes that he shouldn't. It may have worked in high school but its more difficult in college not saying it can't be done though. He just needs to settle down and make better decision. But its just not him its the whole team, again too many unforced turnovers.

  3. "Turnovers are always going to be a part of UNLV's offense..."

    Why??

    I mean, if the Rebels actually ran I could understand but they really don't. In conference play through 12 games they are averaging 65.6 points per game! It's hard to call them the *Runnin'* Rebels at that pace. They often walk the ball up and STILL have way too many turnovers.

    Now, if you mean turnovers are always going to be part of UNLV's game AS LONG AS THEY DON'T HAVE A TRUE POINT GUARD then maybe. But implying that they have a high turnover ratio due to their fast-paced style is simply not accurate.

    I would love to see a statistic on how many turnovers come in their half-court play vs. fast break.

  4. Part of the Rebels' turnover woes is the lack of a true point guard, which can make a big difference. Just look at North Carolina last year when Kendall Marshall broke his wrist in the NCAA Tournament.

    The other part of their turnover woes is the general lack of experience on the team, Reinhardt and Dejean-Jones especially. They tend to play out of control at times. It will take experience for them to learn how to play more under control.

    I can live with turnovers if the opponent was forcing them. It happens to every team. I can't live with unforced turnovers.

  5. We have so many turnovers because, despite the PR campaign, we try to run but we just arent very good at it. Hence the sea of unforced turnovers. I would wager that at least 80% or higher of our TOs are all in transition. We actually do a pretty good job of taking care of the ball in the half court imo. Whether or not we get a good shot is another story. lol

    But we are notoriously weak with the ball in transition and our decision making is questionable at best. Katin & Moser are the only ones who can naturally push the ball but Moser is woefully weak & sloppy with the ball and Katin always tries to make the spectacular play or as Rice says "hit a home run." Given the reality of the personnel, probably the only way to play effective up tempo with this group would be to press...which isnt such a bad idea & I wouldnt mind seeing us do once in a while especially with Khem back there.

    Still, Marshall is fantastic at passing in the lane & off the dribble...but in the open court he isnt comfortable, doesnt get into the middle of the floor, and hurries or forces things. Otherwise, you really cant tell he hasnt played PG before until he gets in the open court. That is no slap at him or the team just that some guys thrive at that pace & some dont. Plus he's never had to do it. But I absolutely prefer a guy who can play in the half court in March and Marshall is definitely that.

  6. A guy is trying to drive the ball through your chest, you fall to the ground before he hits you and it's a blocking foul? Since when is no contact considered a foul? It was a bad call, one of many in this game.

  7. I agree with you Donald. The only reason Smith fell down is because Bennett wasn't there to support his weight anymore and he lost his balance. I don't think it was a charge but Smith did travel.

  8. When oh when is the MWC going to clamp down on these outrageous calls. I have a hard time believing the MWC reviews the tapes of these games and doesn't bring the offending refs to accountability. Last game on top of bad call there was no consistency. At times players were hammering each other and other times players were getting called for "touch fouls". I am not saying the refs have made bad calls just against us...they just need a lot better supervision/training or replacement. The players and the fans deserve a better quality of officiating!

  9. Can they stop turnovers? , hmmmm uhhhh NO. So just live with it phiilips lol.

  10. It's really unsurprising that the intrepid Mr. Bern believes that turnovers will "always be a part of UNLV's offense". This is the same writer who thinks officials should call a game evenly every time to keep things fair...so tired of the excuse that turnovers are because of UNLV's uptempo style. To wit, UCLA, uptempo team, low turnover rate. Ole Miss is another example. Another puzzling aspect of this team is its inability to turnover their opponent on defense. A long athletic team like UNLV should be turning their opponents over regularly. Instead, they are among the lowest rated teams in the country in this category. So, you turn it over a lot on offense, you don't turnover the opponent on defense, not a good combination. This is why UNLV is kind of puttering along in mediocrity. They would dominate the MWC if they just took care of the ball, or, for that m,atter, gamble ajust a wee bit on D to turn over the opponent. We turned the ball over 11 times in the 1st half against CSU, and were up by 12 at half...that's domination-could have been up by 20 or more had they not been throwing passes away like candy. Frustrating to watch, really.

    And let's not forget, although it was a gritty win, it was also one correct OB call away from a devastating loss. Just sayin'