Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009 | 2:10 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Rob Miech and Ray Brewer dissect the UNLV basketball team's 78-69 victory on Saturday against Southern Illinois. Tre'Von Willis had a career high 25 points and appears to be the Rebels' team leader.
Shaw hit a 3-pointer with less than five minutes to play Saturday night to give the Rebels their first double-digit lead of a back-and-forth game against Southern Illinois in a 78-69 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Shaw, who red-shirted last season while rehabbing from right-knee surgery, was fourth on the team in 3-pointers with 24 in 2007-’08. His ability to score from several spots on the court adds another dimension to the offense.
“That was my first 3-pointer in two years,” the 6-foot-8 Shaw jokingly said. “The three hasn’t been falling like I have wanted it to. But I’m not going to force it. I’m only going to take the open ones.”
Shaw set a screen for Tre'Von Willis at the top of the 3-point arch, then popped out to receive a pass and the open look. He buried the shot to put the Rebels ahead 72-60.
“That’s the type of pick-and-pop we are looking for,” he said.
Shaw finished with 13 points, including making a pair of fouls shots with 35 seconds to play when Southern Illinois was only trailing by five points.
The trio of post players combined for 22 points and six rebounds — a stat line that isn’t dominating, but one that shows the improvements they have made.
“We are three guys who will do anything to make the team better,” Shaw said.
Center Brice Massamba battled foul trouble and added four points in nine minutes, scoring UNLV’s first field goal of each half.
Forward Darris Santee had five points in 10 minutes and outraced his defender down the court for two lay-ups with under eight minutes to play to help the Rebels build their lead to 12 points.
The group, which some consider a weakness, showed Saturday the strides they have made — something Shaw said is a product of battling each other in practice. They were athletic running the court, aggressive on the boards and a crucial part to the flow of the offense.
“Darris ran the floor a couple of times and made some good plays,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].