Published Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 | 5:29 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 | 8:43 p.m.
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Final, UNLV wins 74-72
TUCSON, Ariz. — Kendall Wallace made the key hustle plays at the end of regulation to set the table, and Tre'von Willis continued to clean up, as the duo sparked No. 24 UNLV to a gritty 74-72 double overtime victory at Arizona on Wednesday night.
Wallace had two key late rebounds, a steal and a huge 17-foot jumper to help UNLV keep pace. Willis, meanwhile, scored 11 of UNLV's 20 points in the two overtime periods. He scored a team-high 25 to pace the Rebels, with 23 of them coming after halftime.
UNLV trailed 52-47 late in regulation, but Wallace's effort helped spark a 5-0 run to breathe new life for Lon Kruger's club.
The Rebels struggled offensively in the first half, and hit only two of their 12 3-point tries, but Willis came alive after the half, finishing the night 9-of-19 from the floor.
Derrick Jasper had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Rebels, who improved to 6-0 and now travel to face Santa Clara on Saturday evening.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, photos, stats and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
End of first OT, game tied 63-63
TUCSON, Ariz. — Tre'Von Willis scored seven points in overtime for UNLV, but the shot he missed at the buzzer meant another extra five-minute frame for UNLV and Arizona, who remain dead-locked at 63-63.
UNLV held for the final shot after a Jamelle Horne banked-in floater made it again a tie game, and UNLV is now without Darris Santee, who fouled out late in the first overtime period.
Willis leads UNLV with 21 points. 19 of those have come in the second half and OT.
End of regulation, game tied 54-54
TUCSON, Ariz. — Kendall Wallace grabbed maybe the two biggest rebounds of his UNLV career in propelling a 5-0 run to tie things up for the Rebels after trailing 52-47 late in the second half.
He then hit a 17-foot jumper to put UNLV ahead with just over a minute to play.
But after a pair of Nic Wise charities on the other end, each side missed a jumper in the closing seconds, sending tonight's contest to overtime.
Oscar Bellfield missed a 3-pointer with the play clock near zero, then Wise, after consuming almost the entire game clock, missed an 18-foot jumper atop the key.
3:20, second half, Arizona leads 50-47
TUCSON, Ariz. — Near-misses continue to be a problem for UNLV in Tucson.
After a Tre'Von Willis 3-pointer put the Rebels up 47-46 on the suddenly stunned Wildcats, Arizona's Solomon Hill missed the front end of a bonus trip to the line.
Oscar Bellfield had a chance to extend the Rebels' lead, but his reverse layup trickled off of the rim, and UA's Derrick Williams slammed home a bucket on the other end off a lob from Lamont Jones.
Then, Kendall Wallace tried to put UNLV back ahead with a 3-point try, but it was just off. Williams added two more to extend the Cats' lead to three points, and the Wildcats head to the line to shoot two out of the game's final T.V. timeout.
11:48, second half, Arizona leads 41-40
TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tre'von Willis bucket, then a Kendall Wallace mid-range jumper off of an inbounds pass have helped UNLV keep pace in what has become a raucous crowd inside the McKale Center.
UNLV trails Arizona by one at 41-40, but the home fans are far from pleased, as four quick defensive fouls were called against the Cats on two possessions. UA has five team fouls already in the half, while UNLV is right behind with four.
Lamont Jones hit a 3-pointer atop the key to satisfy the masses just before the latest T.V. timeout, giving the frosh nine points so far.
15:14, second half, game tied 36-36
TUCSON, Ariz. — After Tre'Von Willis opened the second half scoring with his second bucket of the game, Oscar Bellfield snapped UNLV's 3-point drought, canning a trey in the midst of a 7-0 Rebels run.
The spurt was capped when Darris Santee grabbed a crucial defensive board in traffic, then off of a beautiful Derrick Jasper dish, slammed it home in a crowd on the other end.
Santee sat moments later with his third foul of the game. He's the only Rebel in any kind of foul trouble.
Two Nic Wise free throws tied things back up, 36-36, and that's where we stand at the moment.
Lon Kruger is going to his bench out of the timeout, now with four reserves on the floor — Kendall Wallace, Matt Shaw, Steve Jones and Anthony Marshall — joining Willis.
Halftime, Arizona leads 34-29
TUCSON, Ariz. — Neither side has looked all that impressive, and with that said, it's still anyone's contest as we've reached halftime at the McKale Center in Tucson, with Arizona leading UNLV 34-29.
UNLV appeared to find its footing first, when a 10-0 run put the Rebels up 24-19 mid-way through the opening frame, but Arizona struck back with six quick points of its own, and UNLV hasn't re-gained that steam since.
Here are some notable numbers from the first half.
— The Rebels are 2-of-12 from long range, including missing their last five. As the offense has struggled to set up, they've settled for long looks a few times too many, and I'm sure Lon Kruger will address that in the locker room.
— Despite the recent 3-point struggles, Matt Shaw and Kendall Wallace each hit key longballs off the bench, which were UNLV's two biggest shots by far in the first half, quelling quick UA spurts.
— Chace Stanback leads the Rebels with nine points, while Derrick Jasper has seven to go with five rebounds.
— Both Nic Wise and Derrick Williams have nine points through 20 minutes for the Cats.
— UA's three-headed freshman monster — Lamont Jones, Williams and Solomon Hill — is a combined 6-of-12 from the floor for 15 points.
— UNLV is 11-of-30 from the floor. UA is 13-of-28.
— UNLV is 5-of-9 at the free throw line. UA is 5-of-6.
— UNLV won the rebounding battle, 19-15, including six offensive caroms.
3:07, first half, Arizona leads 31-27
TUCSON, Ariz. — Derrick Williams hit a tough inside bucket while getting fouled by Darris Santee heading into the first half's final T.V. timeout, and it came on the heels of two Nic Wise free throws plus a Jamelle Horne basket, giving UA its current 31-27 lead on UNLV.
Derrick Jasper has been trying to set up UNLV's offense over the last few possessions, but the Wildcats are matching the Rebels in terms of defensive stickiness and intensity. Nothing's come easy for the Rebs, who are a labored 10-of-21 from the floor so far.
6:24, first half, Arizona leads 25-24
TUCSON, Ariz. — Chace Stanback's old-fashioned 3-point play, coupled with stifling backcourt defense from Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall, keyed a 10-0 UNLV run, which had the Rebels up 24-19 momentarily in Tucson.
But the Wildcats are not fazed by the more experienced Rebs.
UA answered with a 6-0 run of its own, including a Nic Wise driving layup which had Lon Kruger visibly upset on the UNLV bench. Then, Lamont Jones cashed a long two from the right corner and added a transition layup following a Derrick jasper, keeping pace for the Cats.
Stanback leads all scorers so far with nine points.
11:36, first half, Arizona leads 15-14
TUCSON, Ariz. — UNLV is going deep into the bench early against Arizona, as 10 Rebels have already seen action in less than 10 minutes. Matt Shaw will make it 11 after the current T.V. timeout, which has the Cats up 15-14.
Kendall Wallace — one of those reserves — has UNLV's biggest bucket yet.
After UA's Kyryl Natyazhko and Brendon Lavender hit 3-pointers to sandwich around a one-of-two trip to the free throw line from UNLV's Darris Santee, Wallace stopped the bleeding with a key trey of his own while guarded in the right corner.
The Rebels are 3-of-6 at the line so far, which must improve in what apparently will be a very hotly-contested game from here on out.
15:14, first half, UNLV leads 8-7
TUCSON, Ariz. — UNLV is relying on its grit early on against Arizona, as their defensive intensity has caused a couple of hitches for Arizona's youngsters.
Chace Stanback has four points early on for the Rebels, including going two-of-four from the free throw line.
The most noise from the Arizona crowd, which is near-capacity in the McKale Center, came after UNLV's Anthony Marshall made a great tip against Arizona guard Kyle Fogg near mid-court, setting the ball loose. The refs said Marshall never touched the ball and awarded it to UNLV with an over-and-back call.
A possession later, Marshall made a great feed to Darris Santee inside for two points, which have the Rebels up at the moment.
Pregame, Part Deux
Five minutes from tip-time, lets get the predictions ...
— UNLV wins tonight, 74-68. I don't see Arizona's offense flowing well early on. With a lot of youth, this might be the toughest defense the Cats see early in the season. Could cause a lot of frustration for the freshman-heavy lineup. However, the Cats did play Wisconsin, who's decent defensively, but can't score like UNLV can.
— Tonight's 'Pick to Click': Chace Stanback. Had a rough offensive showing against Louisville, and he has (a bit of) Pac-10 experience. Yeah, that sounds about right ...
TUCSON, Ariz. — If UNLV's youngsters unfamiliar with a road atmosphere like the one they'll face tonight in Arizona need some insight, senior guard Steve Jones would certainly be the guy to ask.
The Rebels reserve came to Las Vegas prior to last season after spending three seasons up the road in Tempe at Arizona State.
The team arrived in Tucson last night, and Jones was not shy about sharing his feelings with the rest of the world.
"Landed in tuscon, boy this place hasn't changed much," he said via Twitter.
But a second-hand description won't do the McKale Center justice, as UNLV looks to prove that both its national ranking (No. 24 in the AP poll, No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today poll) and last weekend's 76-71 upset of then-No. 16 Louisville are no fluke.
(Quick sidenote: During the pregame warmups, Jones, who stands at just over six-foot, is going through drills with assistant coach Lew Hill and the Rebels big men. Interesting ...)
It will help Arizona to have a home crowd in its corner, as the Rebels definitely will hold an edge in terms of overall experience.
Under first-year coach Sean Miller — who oddly enough saw his career as a collegiate point guard at Pitt end against Lon Kruger's Florida squad back in 1992 — the Cats are young to say the least. Senior point guard Nic Wise and junior forward Jamelle Horne are the resident veterans. Everyone else? Either a freshman or sophomore.
Wise has been steady, averaging 16.4 points, 4.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game during the Cats' 3-2 start. Horne is putting up 11.4 points and nine boards a night. What may decide Arizona's fate tonight is how its corps of youngsters handles its first game back on the mainland since Nov. 19 against the relentless half-court pressure UNLV applies on the defensive end.
The names to keep an eye — or ear — out for are Solomon Hill, Derrick Williams and Lamont Jones.
Hill was originally committed to Southern Cal, but jumped ship following the Tim Floyd fiasco last season. The 6-foot-6 frosh forward is averaging 12 points and 5.2 boards a game. Joining him up front is fellow freshman Derrick Williams, who stands 6-foot-8. He's putting up 12.6 points and taking down 6.2 rebounds per outing.
Jones will be relied upon when Arizona dips into its rather thin bench. For local Rebels hoops fans, you'll remember him as the leader of an Oak Hill Academy squad a year ago which lost to Findlay Prep in Maryland in their national title bout. So far this season, the six-foot, 200-pound guard is still finding his feet, but averaging a respectable 5.8 points per game.
As for the atmosphere, we're about a half-hour from tip, and nothing crazy just yet. The student section hasn't even filled in much. We'll see what it looks like in 30 minutes or so. I'll talk to you then.