Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Target on our backs: UNLV escapes with an overtime win in Boise, 77-72

So this is what it feels like being ranked highly for multiple consecutive weeks. Lower tier teams of the MWC are gunning for the Rebels, and our loss becomes their signature win. The Boise State fans wanted ever so badly to rush the court. DENIED. The Rebels can expect more teams to bring their “A” game in the future. This was a nerve racking victory, but we are certainly glad the Rebels got the W tonight.

The game started out extremely positive for the Rebels. UNLV broke open the game with a 12 – 0 run. The Rebels lost the offensive touch, and maybe relaxed a bit on defense. Boise St. then capitalized slowly and steadily up to the half. Right before halftime, Boise St. captured a lead at 27-26, but quickly gave it back on a Hawkins 3 pointer, pulling the Rebels ahead 29-27.

First half observations included extended play by Kendall Wallace, despite a heavy brace on his right knee and a slight limp. Boise St. was running a lot of drive and kick out plays, and something called the ‘dribble weave’ which is reminiscent of a Harlem Globetrotters drill. Quintrell Thomas got some early minutes, and showed a soft touch on some of the Rebels few inside points. In the limited time Reggie Smith was on the court, he had a nice 3 pointer. From early on, and throughout the game it was apparent Mike Moser was clearly ‘on’ tonight. Chace Stanback didn’t seem to be in the right position to capture rebounds, and didn’t have a ton of defensive energy. As mentioned about the scarcity of points in the paint, the Rebels were not coping well with the zone defense Boise St. played.

In the second half, any Rebel fan would expect that the Rebels would rectify their performance and blow out ‘lowly’ Boise St. WRONG. The Broncos had even more energy and intensity in the second half, perhaps emboldened by the fact that they were only down two with a shooting percentage  in the teens. The Rebels experienced a series of unfortunate events in the second half – bad free throw shooting, an ankle or achilles injury to Carlos Lopez, and Anthony Marshall fouling out on what was clearly not an offensive foul. To the Rebels credit, this game was saved by Mike Moser and Oscar Bellfield. Mike especially, put the team on his back and powered through to a monster performance. Ironically so, because in the Q&A (last article) it was pointed out that Mike really didn’t have to put the team on his back with the depth the Rebels have. Chace Stanback was really good from deep in the second half as well, and his 15 points were equally important to the victory.

This game was tight late – way too tight. With 1 minute left it was tied. The Rebels ran a play that never materized and lead to a steal by the Broncos. Fortunately, the Broncos couldn’t score the ball either with the remaining time, and the game went to overtime. While Boise St. had shown true emotion and grit throughout most of the game – so much so that even I believed they would win the game, you could see it on their faces when the game went to overtime – they weren’t prepared for this, or ran out of energy.

In the overtime, the only buckets of any consequence for Boise St. were free throws. On the contrary, the Rebels had a few good field goals – and that won the day. Big in overtime was Brice Massamba, Mike Moser, and Chace Stanback. The final in this one was 77-72 Rebels.

There will be a lot of teachable moments, and we certainly hope that Lopez isn’t badly injured nor Marshall too dinged up from all the floor time he got. The Rebels are now 2-0 in overtime games, which shows heart and determination. Taking away something good like that and putting it close to their hearts come tournament time should carry them well. While we hope for a blowout, a win is a win. Great job to the Rebels!

Reign men – Mike Moser – 18 points and 21 rebounds, he is the reason the Rebels won tonight.
Chace Stanback – 15 points, again stealthy, the silent killer. He played poorly in the first half but redeemed himself, a good change up.
Oscar Bellfield – Welcome back to the scorers table, Oscar was big for the Rebels with Marshall not firing on all cylinders, 13 points and 6 assists.

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