Friday, November 25, 2011

Rebels down USC, 66-55

UNLV beating USC, moving to 6-0

Both UNLV and USC brought  a lot of effort to tonight’s game, and it was a calculated and plodding battle. Unfortunately for the Rebels throughout most of the contest, they could not shake USC’s wiener dog pace. USC could not keep their hands to themselves and got into the double bonus with plenty of time left in the 1st half. The Rebels were not able to use that to their advantage because once they reached that point the fouls were much fewer.

UNLV built and maintained a lead for 5-7 minutes in  the first half before USC went on a run and took it back. From that point on into the mid second half, USC and UNLV tied or traded leads. The score at the half was a tie at 31-31.

Players for UNLV that had their games going early were Chace Stanback, who had 4 early . Quintrell Thomas had a nice block and bucket, and of course Moser. Hawkins and Wallace added a three a piece to help break open the defense. USC’s game plan however was to allow UNLV to be a jump shooting team, but protect the paint.

With USC in foul trouble much of the first half, and UNLV rebounding (especially on offense) at an amazing rate, the Rebels technically should have had a commanding lead in the first half. As stated earlier, this wasn’t the case.

Unlike previous foes the Rebels have faced, this USC team has two good centers, Deadmon and Blasczyk These centers gave Carloz Lopez a lot of issues, plaguing him with a three second violation and an offensive foul. Brice Massamba and and Quintrell Thomas were both effective against the challenge.

UNLV first half three point shooting was solid as well, but dropped off in the second half. For the game, the Rebels were 7-24 from long range shooting just 29%. Although the low percentage, Justin Hawkins’ really looked like a pro when he shot the long ball, and had  his feet perfectly set when he did.

Alexis Moore went out of the game out the game with 13:00, Marshall stole ball from his freshman replacement and had a great transition layup, followed by the freshman point guard replacement traveling and giving possession back to the Rebels.

It seemed that Rebel rebounding and shooting dropped off from the first half to the second, whereas USC came out firing on all cylinders. With the first 10 minutes of the 2nd looking very much like most of the first, a seesaw game, the monotony was changed when Kendall Wallace hit another inspiring 3 to break the Rebels lead open at  6.

A bit of luck also favored the Rebels, in that Dedmon earned a technical foul for mouthing off to the refs, something he had actually been doing all game. That technical inspired an 8-0 UNLV run. That technical ended his stint in the game, as his fifth foul.

In a silly move, the slightest agitation on the part of Carlos Lopez (nowhere near as bad as Dedmon’s) caused the refs to equally penalize Lopez.

There’s a saying in basketball, popularized (or created) by Rasheed Wallace. The saying goes, “Ball don’t lie” and it basically means when someone was wrongfully assessed a foul, the foul shooter is likely to miss one or both of the foul shots – basically karma. This applied here, as USC’s Allen missed both shots on the Lopez technical.

USC’s Aaron Fuller fouled out 6:06 play and was tied for the leading USC scorers with 16 points. At this point, UNLV led 52-48. More luck for the Rebels came at the expense of USC’s remaining big man, Blasczyk when he knocked knees with someone and was barely effective while still in the game.

On the offensive front, the Rebels worked hard to finish building a comfortable lead to end the game, and even played a little “Runnin’ Rebel basketball”. Justin Hawkins added another solid 3 point shot to push things out further. The Rebels largest lead to that point came from the game’s leading scorer, Oscar Bellfield who hit a fade-away 2 pointer and pushed it to 8.

The Runnin’ really started coming when Hawkins attempted a steal which didn’t initially turnover the ball, but caused the USC point guard to be sloppy and led to the USC turnover.Still with a lead of 8, with 3:12 left things favored the Rebels from there on out. Anthony Marshall had a fantastic dunk at the 2:58 mark, then soon after Moser pokes the ball out from a USC player and UNLV recovers the loose ball.

In the most exciting and electric play of the night, Hawkins stole the USC pass, and then un an unselfish measure passed the ball to the trailing Moser for power dunk that brought the place to its feet – including the North Carolina fans waiting patiently to watch their Tarheels.

UNLV wins the game with an 11 point margin, 66-55. It was not played at the Rebels pace, but a win is a win and being able to win playing someone else’s style has to count for something.

Rebel Reign MVP(s) – Oscar Bellfield / Mike Moser / Justin Hawkins / Anthony Marshall

Four MVPS? Yes, they all deserve a piece of the honor, and we make the rules up as we go. This was a balanced effort, and I love me some balanced effort because it means the opposition can’t double people and hurt the team. Everyone did well, while it would have been nice to blow out someone at the Orleans, we’ll take a win and remain undefeated!

 The reward for a win - a shot at the #1 team in the nation.

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