Published Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 | 6:39 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 | 8:51 p.m.
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Final, UNLV wins 88-58
Every player in a UNLV uniform saw game action, 6-foot-10 Brice Massamba took a steal at midcourt the rest of the way for a 'graceful' layup and 6-foot-3 Anthony Marshall blocked a shot by 7-foot-3 Nick Schneiders.
It was that kind of a night at the Thomas & Mack Center, as UNLV (10-1) showed no signs of looking ahead to a trip to Honolulu in a 88-58 blowout of South Carolina Upstate (1-9) on Saturday night.
Kendall Wallace and Oscar Bellfield scored 16 points apiece for the Rebels, while Chace Stanback scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game. UNLV was 31-of-70 from the floor, and thanks to full-court pressure for the entire first half, the game was never in doubt.
UNLV boards a commercial flight tomorrow morning for a week-long trip to paradise, taking part in the Diamond Head Classic. Their action starts on Tuesday night against SMU at 7:30 PST.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, stats, photos, video and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
11:58, UNLV leads 67-39
Kendall Wallace has now tied his career high with 16 points, and the Rebels opened the second half against South Carolina Upstate the same way they finished the first — in dominating fashion.
UNLV is out-rebounding USCU 12-3 so far after the break, and Oscar Bellfield is carrying the offensive load so far down the stretch. His last 3-pointer, which made him 4-of-5 tonight from deep, gives him 14 points.
UNLV is 9-of-20 from deep, 23-of-47 from the floor and dominating an overmatched opponent the way it should be.
Off to Hawaii, it is, as the Rebels will be 10-1 when they take off from McCarran tomorrow morning.
As for UCLA transfer Drew Gordon, he's sitting in section 107 with his mother. I'll be chatting with him after the game, so stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for an update on that front.
Halftime, UNLV leads 50-31
UNLV's highest-scoring first half of the season has Lon Kruger's club soaring towards its 10th win of the season, up 50-31 at the intermission.
It looks like Kruger's way of making sure his team's focus remains sharp with a flight to Hawaii coming in the morning is by applying pressure defense non-stop so far. By doing so, the Rebels have forced 10 turnovers, with 19 of their points coming off of those miscues.
Here are some other first half numbers of note ...
— UNLV was 17-of-34 from the floor and, more impressively, 7-of-16 from 3-point range. Kendall Wallace leads the way with four of those connections, and he's also UNLV's high scorer with 14 points.
— UNLV is owning the glass so far, 20-14. Darris Santee has four caroms, while Chace Stanback leads the Rebels with five.
— USCU is relying heavily on the 3-point shot, going 4-of-7 so far. Meanwhile, 7-foot-3 Nick Schneiders is the team's most valuable weapon, with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
— The Rebels have 10 assists so far to just five turnovers.
— 10 Rebels played at least five minutes in the first half, and you can expect the wealth to be evenly shared again after the break with a statement already made.
3:59, first half, UNLV leads 42-20
UNLV continues to hit on all cylinders, and South Carolina Upstate is now relegated to chucking 3-pointers. That is, the Spartans are doing so whenever they're able to get past midcourt against a still-present Rebels press defense.
UNLV has now forced 10 turnovers in less than one half of ball, and some of the reserves are carrying the momentum, as minutes are being well-spread tonight.
Kendall Wallace has a trio of 3-pointers, and UNLV is shooting well from deep for the second straight game, going 6-of-11 so far.
Not too dense of a crowd in the building tonight. My guess is about 10,000.
10:45, first half, UNLV leads 29-12
Everyone's getting into the act early on for UNLV, and everyone is doing it in odd ways.
Kendall Wallace scored maybe the quickest eight points of his career, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, drawing fouls on each of them and hitting the subsequent charities.
UNLV so far is 5-8 from deep.
UNLV has forced USCU into seven turnovers in just over nine minutes, while the Rebels have seven assists to their credit with only two turnovers.
Looks like focus before Hawaii is no issue.
14:19, first half, UNLV leads 14-6
It's starting already to look like another one of those games that was over before it started for the Rebels.
Matt Shaw has seven points right out of the gates for the Rebels, while Oscar Bellfield already has five points and three assists to his credit.
USCU's saving grace so far is a pair of 3-pointers from Carter Cook. Really, that's about it.
The Rebels are attempting to make the Spartans huff and puff early with some full-court pressure, and it's working well so far. That first TV timeout couldn't arrive soon enough for the overwhelmed visitors.
Well, first things first, judging by appearances less than an hour until tip-off, it doesn't look like UNLV's leading scorer — Tre'Von Willis — will be playing tonight.
The junior guard, averaging 16.1 points per game this season, is not out with his teammates right now during warmups. That means he's either getting treatment or, well, just relaxing in the locker room. Either way, it doesn't appear as though UNLV will need him too badly tonight.
The Rebels (9-1) face South Carolina Upstate (1-8) in what will be their final home game until their Jan. 13 Mountain West Conference tilt against San Diego State.
Upstate has cashed in so far by playing challenging road games, but the experience hasn't been so friendly against some major programs.
The Spartans' start includes a 76-49 loss at Nebraska, a 69-61 (kinda close, I guess) loss at Indiana, a 70-41 defeat at Miami and a 27-point whooping at Wichita State two Saturdays ago.
That said, Willis might as well rest that left ankle he turned on Thursday night and get ready for next week's action at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
So who does this absence benefit? Well, maybe no one more than freshman Justin Hawkins. We documented today in the game preview story that he's dealing with the typical time management struggles of any college freshman. But if anyone needs a confidence boost on the offensive end, it's the frosh out of Woodland Hills Taft (Calif.) High.
He has scored only one bucket in UNLV's last five games, as his minutes have taken a hit in the process.
Now, onto tonight's three things to watch ...
1) Understandably so, the crowd on Thursday night against Weber State wasn't quite as intense as the one which welcomed then-No. 16 Louisville to town in UNLV's previous home game on Nov. 28. Tonight, a good showing would hurt in trying to sway UCLA transfer Drew Gordon into committing to UNLV. He's stopping in Las Vegas tonight in his whirlwind recruitment travels in hopes of finding a new home in time for the spring semester.
2) Can Chace Stanback keep it up? My guess is he will. The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward — another UCLA transfer — has found his swagger of late, scoring 43 points in his last three games on 17-of-31 shooting. The Rebels wouldn't mind him keeping that going into next weeks extravaganza with three games in four days.
3) Is UNLV looking ahead to the holidays in Hawaii? The Rebels need to look focused and convincing tonight, in my mind, to show just how mature this group is. This would be an easy game for most teams to get sloppy in.
Predictions and 'Pick to Click'
I'm predicting UNLV 87, USCU 62. Meanwhile, gotta ride the hot hand again ... Chace Stanback is my 'Pick to Click' yet again.
Talk to you after tip-off.