Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, March 2, 2013 | noon
Updated Saturday, March 2, 2013 | 3:02 p.m.
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CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello joins Las Vegas Sun reporter Taylor Bern to discuss UNLV's seeding possibilities in Part One, and then at the 15:30 mark Taylor is joined by SI.com's Andy Glockner who offers his insight to the Mountain West's collective standing as we approach tournament time. All rights for the intro, outro and intermission music to alt-J, so go buy their album.
- Rebels preparing to win eighth straight game against UNR with or without Bennett
- Rebels in good tournament seeding position with chances left to improve
- UNLV’s Bennett day-to-day with nerve pain in his left shoulder
- Las Vegas sports books benefitting from volatile college basketball season
- How does Rebels’ Bennett stack up against nation’s elite freshmen?
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
UNLV 80, UNR 63
RENO — Mike Moser scored a season-high 20 points, all in the first half, Bryce Dejean-Jones tossed in 17 and UNLV ran away in the Lawlor Events Center with an 80-63 victory against UNR on Saturday afternoon. It was the Rebels' eighth straight victory in the series.
UNLV led by 21 at halftime, increased it to 25 at one point and never let the Wolf Pack get within single digits in the second half. UNR never led because Moser hit two 3s in the game's opening minutes, part of a breakout that carried UNLV in the first half.
Moser didn't do much in the second half, but he didn't need to. Dejean-Jones had most of the scoring and Katin Reinhardt chipped in, including a couple of key baskets that kept UNR from making it a game. The Wolf Pack's Malik Story and Deonte Burton combined for 42 points, but Reinhardt's buckets stymied the potential run and UNR couldn't get enough production from the rest of the lineup.
The Rebels finished the regular season 3-5 on the road in league play, which isn't bad considering how things looked a couple of weeks ago in Fresno. Overall the team's is 22-7 and 9-5 in conference play, keeping alive the chance to finish second if Colorado State drops one of its remaining games and UNLV wins out.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' victory.
UNLV 68, UNR 54
7:20 remaining in the second half
RENO — UNR's Malik Story and Deonte Burton are the only reason the Wolf Pack are still in this game, although it doesn't seem like they'll be enough to keep it interesting.
The pair has combined for 40 points but the Rebels keep coming up with enough answers to keep the Wolf Pack at bay. The Rebels' lead was big as 25 and in the second half it's never gotten into single digits. That's enough to give the home fans some hope, but not enough to make any real threats as the clock ticks down.
If UNR's going to make one final push, it has to do it now.
UNLV 50, UNR 34
15:49 remaining in the second half
RENO — The Wolf Pack have given themselves some life with a 7-0 run while the Rebels have wasted a couple of possessions with bad turnovers and poor shot selection.
UNLV has a lot of room left to work with, so this is hardly a sign to panic. But what you do want to see as a response is the Rebels get back to playing the way the did in the first half: fast breaks and good inside-out offense.
UNLV 46, UNR 25
RENO — Mike Moser scored a season-high 20 points to lead UNLV to a commanding 46-25 halftime lead against UNR on Saturday afternoon in the Lawlor Events Center.
Starting for the first time since Jan. 24, Moser hit his first three 3-point attempts and combined with a 3 from Bryce Dejean-Jones spurred the Rebels to a quick 24-10 lead. In the final eight minutes the Rebels grew their lead to 21, with Moser hitting a 3 just before halftime. Moser's previous season high was 19 points, which did twice: against Jacksonville State and Iowa State. Both of those were prior to his elbow injury on Dec. 9.
Overall UNLV is shooting 51.6 percent from the field, 53.8 percent on 3s and 100 percent (7-of-7) on free throws. UNR is hitting 29 percent of its shots and 0 percent (0-for-7) on 3s. Guards Malik Story and Deonte Burton have combined for 19 of the team's 25 points.
Dejean-Jones has seven points, including a very impressive putback slam that be making its way onto a few highlight reels. Khem Birch and Katin Reinhardt both have six points. The Rebels lead rebounding 23-15 and have only committed six turnovers.
This one is all but over despite no points from Anthony Bennett, which is exactly the type of game UNLV needed against an overmatched UNR squad. Get in, take care of business, and get out.
UNLV 29, UNR 16
7:51 remaining in the first half
RENO — This is a good opportunity for UNLV to learn from the mistakes of its past road games and make sure this isn't a game in the second half.
Despite of a stretch of about four minutes without a good shot, the Rebels still lead by 13 and coming out of the timeout Katin Reinhardt will take a free throw after getting fouled on a made 3-pointer. Between now and halftime, either UNR can pull itself back into single digits to give the home fans some hope, or UNLV can effectively end the game. That's the killer mentality the Rebels have often lacked on the road, so it will be interesting to see what they do today.
UNLV has dominated all aspects of the game, allowing only flashes of hope to shown through UNR's offense. If the Rebels play the final 7:51 with the same intensity they played the first 12 minutes, the only question in the second half will be the final score.
UNLV 13, UNR 4
15:34 remaining in the first half
RENO — The home PA announcer hasn't correctly pronounced Mike Moser's last name yet (think: Mosier) but Moser is doing his best to make himself unforgettable. He hit his first three 3-point attempts and has nine points while starting for Anthony Bennett, who's expected to come off the bench.
This team is so much faster when Moser grabs a rebound and leads the fast break. That's how the Rebels played at the start of last season and it's what they've missed a lot of this season. So far today it's back.
“Anthony Bennett’s a little head case,” Evans told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “He gets irritated, and when he gets irritated, he doesn’t play as well. Maybe try to get under his skin early in the game and bother him a little bit and see where that takes us.”
Evans and the Wolf Pack will likely get their chance to implement this strategy this afternoon as Bennett, despite not practicing Wednesday or Thursday, is expected to play when the Rebels tip at 1 p.m. in the Lawlor Events Center on NBC Sports Network. Bennett did get on the court for practice Friday, and UNLV coach Dave Rice confirmed Saturday morning that although his leading scorer and rebounder might not start, he does anticipate playing him.
Other than Bennett, the keys for UNLV today stay inside, where Khem Birch dominated the Wolf Pack in the first game between the teams this season and Mike Moser figures to get most of the minutes Bennett doesn’t play. UNR’s combo of Deonte Burton and Malik Story present a tremendous threat on the outside, but in the paint the Wolf Pack don’t have much of an answer for the Rebels.
Considering UNLV is coming off its lowest number of 3-point attempts in a game with nine against Wyoming, there’s reason to hope that trend could continue in this game. A trend the Rebels will try to end is three straight games with at least 17 turnovers. It’s hard to imagine UNLV surviving very long in a tournament with that many wasted possessions.
Turnovers are going to happen, but the Rebels’ target number is closer to 12. Of course, it’s not like the current stretch has kept UNLV from winning. But at a certain point it will, and Rice is well aware of that.
THE OTHER SIDE
UNR projected lineup
G — Deonte Burton, 6-1, Jr, 15.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.8 apg
G — Malik Story, 6-5, Sr, 15.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1 spg
G — Jerry Evans Jr, 6-8, Jr, 8.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1 apg
G — Jordan Burris, 6-7, Jr, 6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 18.8 3fg%
F — Kevin Panzer, 6-9, Jr, 3.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 90.9 ft%
Sixth man — F, Devonte Elliott, 6-10, Jr, 4.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 41.5 fg%
*Stats from conference games only
Last meeting: Birch came off the bench and dominated the Wolf Pack inside, leading to a 66-54 victory.
Kenpom line: UNLV -9
Vegas line: UNLV -5.5
Bern’s take: I’ve proved in the second half of league games that I can’t predict what’s going to happen. However, whenever there’s at least a three-point difference between kenpom.com’s predicted outcome and the point spread, the smart money is to lean on kenpom. So that’s what I’m going to do. UNLV 71, UNR 64