Saturday, January 14, 2012

Buzzer beater by Aztecs seals a close one, UNLV loses 67-69

San Diego State University is one of the few remaining tough rivals UNLV has in the Mountain West, and soon to be leaving for easier courts to play on. Steve Fisher’s team is tough to play every year, even when they aren’t ranked. Added to that, the SDSU student section self-titled as “the show” melds together a brand of infectious enthusiasm that is hard to match in any sport, and pushes their team to victory. This is the end of general credit to the Aztecs, because the Rebels really beat themselves in this game, and should have came away with a victory.

The previous losses this season were chalked up to the Rebels not having a morning practice, playing on the road, and an unlikely opposing player having a career night from three point land. The way the Rebels have won all season is having at least two players get hot and the rest fill in the gaps. The players that have accomplish this feat this season have been Moser, Stanback, Marshall, Hawkins, with normally some strong contributions from the inside guys , Lopez, Massamba, and Thomas. The reason the Rebels lost this game was lack of early defensive focus, sloppy ball handling, miscommunication running plays, poor free throw shooting, and not having two guys shooting a high percentage. The positive take away is that likey 8 out of 10 times our team will beat SDSU, things just weren’t clicking today.

First Half
UNLV started the game with terrible shooting, The Rebels appeared somewhat off, and although its easy to see that from the lack of baskets, it was visually apparent in the defense. The Rebels played defense with energy, but lacked focus, missed assignments, and allowed a lot of uncontested jump shots and even layups. The lone early points was a 3-pointer by Anthony Marshall, who really came out and looked the best I’ve ever seen him play. Besides the Marshall 3, Massamba had a lapse of judgment when he blocked/fouled a player, then attempted to tower over him while he was on the ground. That cost the Rebels points, possession, and Massamba got 2 early fouls 2 minutes into the game, which led to him sitting. Oscar Bellfield helped stop the scoring drought by adding his own three point make at the 15 minute mark. Coach Rice showed added confidence in newcomer Reggie Smith by subbing him into the lineup midway through the first half.

Throughout the first half the Rebels had sloppy plays such as multiple traveling violations, throwing the ball away, being goated into offensive fouls, and dishing out close passes under the Aztec basket that was bobbled by our players – leading to many turnovers. Although UNLV’s defensive energy was there, the Aztecs had either scouted well and figured out holes, or the Rebels were blowing assignments. Needless to say, the Defense was ineffective, and with the crew Coach Rice had on the floor, man-to-man defense should have sufficed. Early on, a similar theme of someone getting really hot emerged against the Rebels, and that player was James Rahon. The combination of these factors made it all-the-more-amazing that the Rebels were only down 5-7 points for a large part of the first half. Mixed into the sloppiness, Chace Stanback had a fantastic dunk to break up the monotony. In the first great run of the game, Justin Hawkins shot a 3, followed by a jumper by Massamba, a 3 by Stanback, and then a Marshall dunk. That run, cut the lead from 10 to 3. By half time, the Rebels trailed by a manageable 2 points, 29-31.

Second Half
In the second half Moser made a few statements early, with a three pointer and some solid offensive rebounding. On the matter of rebounding, while it was really nice to see the Rebels out-rebound the Aztecs, especially on the offensive glass, many of those series of rebounds game on miss-after-miss and led to very few points. Out of the locker room the Rebels appeared more focused, with more energy, fight, and swagger – they looked like the Rebels we know. The Rebels finally tied the game this half, with a dunk-and-one play. As soon as the Rebels were ahead 42-41 the Aztecs scored a quick 3 pointer to take it back. Besides the field problems, the gimme’s (free-throws) weren’t falling. The Rebels were far more competitive throughout the half and were down by 3 points with about 10 minutes to go. 

Anthony Marshall really established himself as a dominant force, making three pointers and driving to the basket frequently and with great results – normally the basket or at least some foul shots. With four minutes remaining, the Rebels were still down by 3, but a long 3 pointer by Justin Hawkins tied things 62-62. Again, the Aztecs quickly retook the lead. Helping Marshall in the late stretch, Brice Massamba had a couple of lucky barreling layups that found their way into the basket. 

It was a 1 point game (Aztec lead) with 1 minute remaining, and Jamaal Franklin got involved in a sequence where Justin Hawkins tried to save a ball inbounds and instead got tangled up with Jamall Franklin. Franklin then was down for quite awhile in what appeared to be ‘agonizing pain’ (I thought he had broken something), and then got up to sit on the Aztec bench. Not too long afterwards, with the game tied at 67, he was reinserted and scored the winning layup on a driving move to the hoop around at least three Rebels defenders, the final being Brice Massamba. Injured ?– questionable. The play finished with the buzzer ringing, but after official review 0.3 seconds was to be restored on the clock. With that little time, even a catch and shoot is very difficult to achieve. With the Rebels ability to run the baseline to get throw in the ball, Moser was tasked with the duty but turned over the ball by stepping on the line. Even though that play also stung and sealed the win, it would have taken a miracle for the Rebels to have scored any points with such a small amount of time remaining.

Tough loss, but we're in good company today.
Teams lose games, and there are only three undefeated teams remaining right now. In the past day many ranked teams have been upset in far greater fashion, #3 UNC was blown out by unranked Florida State, #7 Michigan State was beaten by unranked Northwestern, #13 Michigan was beaten badly by unranked Iowa, #18 Kansas State was beaten by unranked Oklahoma, so we’re not looking too bad by losing at the buzzer to #22 SDSU in their house.

The game was entertaining because it was close down the stretch, but it did provide some heartburn and brought back memories of all of the close games we’ve lost to the Aztecs in recent years. Hopefully our team can play to its full potential next time we meet and have no trouble beating SDSU.

Reign Man – Anthony Marshall, he really showed his athleticism and confidence in this game, he gets the award no doubt about it.


  1. You got beaten by a better team today.

    Don't make excuses.

    Just deal with it.

  2. Nice to see readership by dumbass SDSU fans :) enjoy