Sunday, December 4, 2011

A difficult afternoon in Kansas: UNLV falls to Wichita State 89-70

The Rebels are now 8-1
The Rebels started out fine, making points early and for a good while hung with the Shockers. With 11:00 remaining in the first half, Wichita State went on a scoring rampage and built a double digit lead. Where it fell apart for the Rebels, is that between the 11 minute mark and the 5:25 mark, the Rebels had zero field goals, only making a few points from the free throw line. During that time, Wichita state built a 15 point lead that UNLV could never really chip away at. That lead kept the Shockers ahead by as much as 17 in the first half, and they finished the game with a 19 point lead, beating the Rebels 89-70 for UNLV’s first loss of the season.

The Rebels could not dig out of the hole they got themselves into in the first half. While, with the exception of poor 3 point shooting, foul trouble, and defense that allowed the Shockers to build a big lead, they actually didn’t have a “bad” game. The Rebels shot 48% from the field, only 26% from three and nearly 74% from the FT line. Of the 70 points the Rebels had, only 16 were in the paint, and only 8 second chance points – meaning we were not effective inside, and did not rebound and capitalize has we normally would. Hampering the inside effort, our taller players – Moser, Massamba, and Thomas all got themselves into foul trouble and it clearly took them out of their defensive mindset.

Wichita, on the other hand, was amazing and had a phenomenal game – one that likely was a fluke as you have to be on fire to achieve these kind of numbers. They shot 58% from the field, 52% from three, and 68% from the FT line. They built their insurmountable lead by scoring both inside and out. The Shockers had 34 points in the paint, and had 13 second chance points. They out-rebounded us 26-22. From the outside, it was déjà vu back to the sweet 16 loss to Oregon in 2007. Wichita State’s was 8-9 from three point land, and finished the game with 31 points. What was reminiscent about that, was an Oregon guard named Tajaun Porter had 8 three pointers against us that day, and notched 33 to bury the Rebels. The fact is, any team that shot the ball as well as Wichita State did will win the game against anyone in the top-25, hand s down. The debatable point will be, could we have defended them better, especially Ragland and Carl Hall, who had 17 points on 7-11 from the field.

As I mentioned earlier, UNLV really didn’t have a “bad” shooting performance except from 3. But, in order to beat or stay competitive with a team that is en fuego, someone would have to just ‘go off’ and have a phenomenal game. Lacking from the Rebels was someone having a big game. In previous games, we’ve seen Mike Moser, Chace Stanback, Justin Hawkins, Anthony Marshall, and Oscar Bellfield all have big games and help the Rebels to their undefeated record. This game, while there was still balanced scoring, the leading scorer was Chace with 16, followed by Moser with 12. Coach Rice has always stressed team basketball and making the extra pass, but 11 assists as a team isn’t playing Rebels basketball.

Although it was their first loss of the season, and likely not their last, the Rebels will recover and will learn a lot more from this loss than they have from their wins. Most encouraging, will be the Rebels figuring out why they didn’t make the extra pass, what tricks the Shockers pulled to get their big men in foul trouble, and how they can generally improve on defense. With these adjustments, we needn't rely on a miraculous shooting performance to beat the North Carolina’s of the world – we’ll do it on the regular. The other good thing is that this was not a surprising loss, many had anticipated that the Rebels could fall in Kansas, so it isn’t a “bad” loss when it comes to tournament time, and Wichita State may be good enough to make the tournament this year – they are a solid team.

Although I applaud Jim Livengood and Cox communications for stepping up and bringing us the Wichita State game, which was previously not going to be televised – the internet coverage sucked big time. It took me at least 10 minutes to get the signal to actually work in Windows Media Player (I don’t have cox cable, I have DirecTV) and when it did the picture quality was as if I was watching the game on a VHS tape from the 80’s. Not sure how it looked on TV, but this was only slightly better than Radio in my opinion.

There were no Rebel Reign MVPs this game. Everyone played fine, but nobody stood out and deserved the honor. We’ll get em’ next time. Go UNLV!

No comments:

Post a Comment