Saturday, February 25, 2012

On the mountain top once again: UNLV defeats Air Force 68-58

A familiar theme has emerged the last two games – superhuman three point shooting from Chace Stanback, and mere mortal shooting but a ‘Mr. Everything Else’ performance from Mike Moser. Although this is a different recipe than what has worked this season, we’re winning games again and back on top.

UNLV  started the game with good energy – as good as a team could have given the slow pace Air Force tends to play at. Everyone knows the Falcons don’t score a ton of points, but hope to limit their opponents and score just enough to win – that’s how they beat SDSU recently. Link

Chace Stanback established himself early from deep, scoring the Rebels first points, and being a consistant factor throughout the game both outside and inside the three point line. On phenomenal 3 point shooting, the 6’8” forward drilled 5 of 7 three point attempts (71%). In addition to the total 21 points which just moved Stanback past Reggie Theus on the all time scoring list, he had 8 rebounds, 1 block and 3 steals. For a man who often times was incognito on the court even in great games, I couldn’t stop watching Stanback lift the Rebels to victory the right way – by building and maintaining a comfortable lead. The Reign Man of the game is Chace.

Mike Moser was still having issues scoring the basketball, but had a major hand in the win. Most incredible stat to go along with 7 points were 6 steals. Mike was the clear energy guy on the court, keeping the Rebels from being lulled to sleep by the flowless Falcons. Tempering his steals figure, were his turnovers (6). While I’ve heard nothing concrete on Moser injury-wise, a guy who isn’t scoring the ball like he’s capable, and is turning over the ball quite a bit could very well be suffering from a hand or wrist injury of some sort. Remember, Mike had an injury to his right wrist in early December, but has since recovered – so hopefully not a reaggravation of that.Link

One of the points of emphasis for the Rebels besides not playing down to the Falcons tempo, would have been defending the three. Air Force, percentage wise, is the most accurate three shooting team in the MWC. The Falcons were actually shooting the three ball well in the first half (5-11 45%) but then went ice cold in the second (1-8 12%). The Rebels, behind strong outings by Stanback and complemented by Bellfield and Hawkins finished at 47% from three (9 – 19).

Transition basketball for the Rebels was sloppy, but only noticeably on lob and in-the-paint attempts. Regularly, the ball was lost and recovered by an Air Force player with little effort. Having observed the Rebels over now 30 games of basketball, its become apparent that there is regression on transition dunks and layups. Surprisingly (because its not normal for teams), the Rebels’ best transition shot is the in rhythm assisted three because of people like Stanback, Hawkins, Bellfield, and Moser (when he’s on). Give the Rebels credit for being creative in transition, but unfortunately the turnovers are mounting and normally the Rebels are exposed when the ball quickly goes back the other way.

Frustration felt: Two Rebels were cited for technical fouls – Kendall Wallace and Brice Massamba. Wallace had a call go against him when he was steamrolled by an Air Force guard driving to the basket. Massamba got tripped by an Air Force center under the opponents basket, the trip which could have been inadvertent inspired him to get in the players face, as well as have words with the Air Force bench.

Conclusion: We beat an opponent everyone expected us to beat. In winning two in a row and New Mexico losing two in a row, we are now again tied at the top of the standings with the Lobos and SDSU. But, the Rebels are technically the top first place team because our overall record trumps both teams. Two tough games remain on the schedule, Colorado State who have demonstrated their lack of fear for the Thomas and Mack, and Wyoming who handed us defeat in Laramie. Chances are, the Rebels luck in having both SDSU and New Mexico falter will end, and both will win out the rest of their conference schedule. Colorado State is still looking for a resume boosting win, ideally away from home but they would relish beating  the Rebels either way. The Rebels will look to change their road fortune against Colorado State – should be must see TV. 

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