Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Good to be home: Rebels handle a capable Colorado State; 82-63

A few of the story lines coming into this game were the passing of former Coach Charlie Spoonhour, which the Rebels are now remembering with black bands on their jerseys; coming home after two tough overtime wins on the road; and playing a team who won the first meeting last year in the Thomas and Mack, as well as beat formidable San Diego State this past Saturday.

The Rebels were amped and ready to rock. Both teams got out to a good start, working early were Mike Moser with the first three of the game, then a nice pair of Bellfield jumpers, followed by a Moser dunk. The Rams held their own and the game was tied at 11-11. From that point forward, ‘runs’ were the story of the game. Colorado St went on the first unimpeded run pushing the lead to 19-12. Then it was the Rebels turn, with a Stanback three, Marshall layup, Smith three, and Massamba layup. The score was pushed back in our favor, 24-19. The run didn’t end there, Moser, Marshall, and Thomas pushed it out to 32-21. That margin would essentially prevail through the remainder of the half, and lead 48-37 at the break.

In the second half, it was only really close once. CSU began the half on an 11-0 run and pulled within two points of the Rebels. In a major correction of course, the Rebels then became the Runnin’ Rebels we know and love, and simply turned on the defense, reigned three’s, had tons of transition baskets, and dominated. The biggest lead of the half came late, at 21 points. Newcomer Barry Cheaney scored a nice jumper as the Rebels last points of the game. On a last second shot by the Rams, they finished it down by 19, final score 82-63.


Carlos Lopez didn’t play, neither did Kendall Wallace. This put a lot more minutes out there for bench players Quintrell Thomas, Justin Hawkins, and Reggie Smith.

Rebels free throw shooting was terrible as usual, the team shot just 13-19 for 68%. These numbers have to improve to win close games against better opponents, otherwise we are essentially leaving points on the floor. The figure suprises me more given Dave Rice’s BYU teams were so good at free throw shooting.

Reggie Smtih was a lot more confident with his shooting, and attempted a very deep three pointer in rhythm that dropped in – hopefully more of that to be seen in the future.

The Rebels outrebounded CSU 39-28, which made a major difference in the game. Multiple Rebels were beasts on the boards, and the focused effort to rebound the ball was apparent from the jump. Sadly, Mike moser ended two rebounds short of another double double.

Balanced scoring was back – its been awhile since we’ve seen four players (nearly 5) in double digit scoring, Bellfield, Marshal, Moser, and Stanback all had the rock falling tonight.

The full court press made an appearance in this one a few times – a nice change of pace for a team that can clearly press opponents into mistakes.

Fancy is sometimes too much – twice in this game there were behind the back passes which looked awesome, but didn’t put points on the board on the ensuing play. Maybe best to put the showtime trickery back on the shelf. I’m positive Coach Rice will chew out Anthony Marshall for it.

Sharing means wins – the Rebels as the NCAA’s 4th best team in assists continued to share the ball effectively, with 24 assists (above the average of around 18). Besides the two instances of fancy passing, ball movement was largely without turnovers, and the open man was found quite often. Also, there was hardly an instance in the game where I thought ‘man, he shouldn’t have taken that shot’.

Final thoughts: The Rebels clearly won the game by a large margin, but it wasn’t an easy game. This would have been a closer contest if the Rebels weren’t reigning three pointers. UNLV tallied 9 three pointers, mostly from Moser and Bellfield. The better the Rebels are from three, the more teams will respect the Rebels on the perimeter and this will open up the lane for drives from Marshall, Hawkins, Smith, and Moser – as well as our bigs. On a night where the team missed Lopez and Wallace, everyone stepped up and brought effort and intensity to keep the Rebels undefeated at home. Beside fantastic shooting, UNLV’s defense and energy wore out CSU after their run early in the second half, and from then on it was UNLV’s game to lose. Tonight, the Rebels really did look like the #11 team in the nation.

Reign men: Mike Moser, Oscar Bellfield, Chace Stanback, and Anthony Marshall (in that order). This is a really special team that if they stick to the team concept and get everyone involved , they will be unstoppable.


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