Published Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 | 12:46 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 | 2:59 p.m.
Ryan Greene welcomes in Jason Franchuk from the Provo Daily Herald to talk about Saturday's monstrous meeting between UNLV and BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Final, UNLV wins 88-74
Chances are, UNLV might never shoot from 3-point range over the course of 20 minutes like it did in the first half on Saturday against BYU.
But the Rebels used their hot hands to spread the Cougars out, and in the process made maybe their biggest statement so far in the 2009-10 season.
UNLV, who could in turn find itself back in the Top 25 polls again come Monday, ousted No. 12 BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center, 88-74.
The Rebels are now 19-4 overall and 7-2 in Mountain West play, while BYU is 22-3 overall and 7-2 in the league.
Willis scored 21 of his points in the first half, including a trio of 3-pointers. In that first half, as a team, the Rebels were 9-of-13 from deep and took a 56-34 lead into the locker room. He'd finish with a career-high 33 points, besting the 30 he tallied two Saturdays ago in a 79-70 win at TCU.
BYU opened the second half on a 9-2 run, but the Rebels surged back behind nine points after the break by Kendall Wallace. With his scoring, it meant that for the second consecutive game, all 10 Rebels to play scored.
Willis, on top of his 33 points, had eight assists, no turnovers and five rebounds. Oscar Bellfield scored 12 points, while Matt Shaw had 13 off of the bench. Chace Stanback had seven points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
For BYU, Jimmer Fredette had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but was only 4-of-15 from the floor.
The Rebels are back at home for another huge game on Wednesday night against No. 15 New Mexico.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, stats, photos, video and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
7:48, second half, UNLV leads 74-59
UNLV is in a bit of an offensive drought with just under eight minutes to play, but defensively, the Rebels have not let up, still holding a comfortable 15-point lead on the No. 12 Cougars at 74-59.
Chace Stanback hasn't scored since pouring in five points early, but has a game-high 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Tre'Von Willis added a corner 3-pointer and then an and-one layup to put him at 33 points, which is a new career best. The previous high was set two Saturdays ago, when he poured in 30 in a 79-70 win at TCU.
Now he's on a hunt to score 40, which no Rebel has done since Trevor Diggs accomplished the feat in 2001.
12:58, second half, UNLV leads 68-48
BYU used a 9-2 run to open the second half to at least make their presence felt a bit after trailing at the break by 22 points.
But UNLV pushed right back.
Kendall Wallace busted BYU's zone defense by driving hard and earning a trip to the line. He hit both free throws, then hit UNLV's 10th 3-pointer of the day, pushing the Rebels back up by 20 points.
With Wallace getting on the board, it marks the second consecutive game in which all 10 players in Lon Kruger's rotation have scored.
After hitting the trey, he dished inside to Tre'Von Willis, who scored to give himself 26 points on the day. Willis then picked up his sixth assist on a give to Darris Santee and his seventh on a similar pass to Wallace for another Rebels layup.
Halftime, UNLV leads 56-34
The Rebels used the 3-point shot to open up everything else in the first half of their biggest home game of the year, and in turn they hold a commanding 56-34 edge on No. 12 BYU at the half.
Jimmer Fredette scored 13 points in the first half for the Cougars, but never have 13 first half points looked more inconsequential.
Tre'Von Willis was 6-of-9 from the floor for UNLV and has a game-high 21 points. He's on pace to crush his career high of 30, which he scored just two weeks ago at TCU.
The big story so far for UNLV is 9-of-13 efficiency from deep, including three huge connections off of the bench by Matt Shaw.
Here are some other numbers of note from the first 20 minutes at the Mack ...
— BYU is at least taking advantage of its free opportunities to score. The Cougars are 12-of-12 at the line, while UNLV is 7-of-10.
— UNLV has 14 assists on 20 field goals and only four turnovers. The Cougars have five assists and seven giveaways.
— Aside from his 21 points, Tre'Von Willis has five assists, no turnovers, three rebounds and two steals.
— BYU is just 4-of-15 from 3-point range and 9-of-27 from the floor.
— UNLV's bench is carrying some weight, too, with 21 points so far. All five reserves who have played have scored. The only Rebel not to score so far is Kendall Wallace.
5:40, first half, UNLV leads 45-18
The biggest question now is: When will the hot shooting stop for the Rebels?
Behind 9-of-13 3-point shooting, UNLV is rolling over No. 12 BYU right now at the Mack, 45-18.
The latest Rebel to catch fire is junior forward Matt Shaw, who is coming off of a fine showing at Wyoming on Wednesday in which he scored a game-high 16 points.
He hit a trio of 3-pointers, and it's opened up everything else for UNLV. Tre'Von Willis leads all scorers with 15 points, and his latest bucket came off of a bank shot from the right block.
Then, Justin Hawkins recorded his second steal of the game and went coast-to-coast for an up-and-under layup.
UNLV is an unconscious 17-of-28 from the floor, while BYU is just 5-of-17 and cannot get comfortable.
11:50, first half, UNLV leads 22-8
The Rebels are staying hot, and everyone's getting into the act.
Tre'Von Willis already has 10 points, but Oscar Bellfield added a 3-pointer from atop the key and Steve 'Chop' Jones then put in a 17-foot baseline jumper.
After Bellfield's trey, BYU coach Dave Rose called for a full timeout and absolutely laid into his team, turning his face red in the process.
So far, UNLV is 4-of-5 from deep, while the Cougars are 0-for-5 and just 2-of-11 from the floor.
15:15, first half, UNLV leads 11-2
Chace Stanback is a different player now than he was the first time UNLV and BYU met, and he's wasting no time in showing it.
The UNLV sophomore forward opened the game with an 18-foot jumper from the corner, and he's added a 3-pointer since as the Rebels are off to an 11-2 lead in front of a crazed crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Meanwhile, BYU is just 1-of-6 from the floor.
The Rebels got a big offensive game from Tre'Von willis the first time around, and he's up to it again, adding a pair of early treys for UNLV, who is clearly feeding off of the intense energy in the building.
Now in the first TV break, BYU is putting in Jonathan Tavernari, who as the team's top 3-point gun could make this a game again real fast.
Hello everyone and welcome to a home game for the Rebels which will be like none other this season.
The Thomas & Mack Center is sold out for today's clash with No. 12 BYU, and anyone driving down Swenson or Tropicana towards the arena will see it in giant, bold red letters on the video board at the intersection.
It will be the kind of atmosphere that symbolizes big-time college basketball.
Sure, it'll be something UNLV can enjoy, but it's the biggest home game of the year for a reason.
At 6-2 in the Mountain West, UNLV is looking up only at BYU, who is 7-1 at the mid-way point. Tre'Von Willis put it best yesterday — if the Rebels lose, they're pretty much fighting for second place the rest of the way.
BYU's schedule after today is far from treacherous. The Cougars still have games against New Mexico and San Diego State, but both are in Provo. A win for Dave Rose's club today means they can recline that driver's seat a bit.
For UNLV, this is the start of a rough patch in league play. After today is a home date with No. 15 New Mexico on Wednesday night, followed by a trip to San Diego State next Saturday.
FYI, if you're wanting tickets for Wednesday's game, I'd get online and buy them now, because if the Rebels win this one, I could easily see it selling out by the end of the weekend.
Now on to today's 3 keys to UNLV victory
1) UNLV is a different team now than it was when it went up to Provo and lost on Jan. 6, 77-73. The big difference? The offensive emergence of Chace Stanback, who since that game is averaging 15.4 points and six rebounds a game. Well, BYU is different, too, as star guard Jimmer Fredette is at full strength today as opposed to battling mono, which was the case a month ago. But Fredette has always struggled with UNLV, and if the Rebels can make history repeat itself, they're set up pretty well.
(Sidenote: I think whoever wins today between Tre'Von Willis and Fredette is probably in the driver's seat for league Player of the Year honors.)
2) The Rebels can't let Jonathan Tavernari beat them. The Gorman grad had 17 points and nine boards off of the bench in the first meeting, and since then has failed to duplicate that performance. You know he badly wants a win over UNLV in the Mack, as he's 0-5 in the department for his career. He has the quickest 3-point release in maybe the entire country. The Rebels can't let him shake free.
3) Brice Massamba needs to be active and productive again. He was silent on Wednesday at Wyoming, playing only eight minutes due to foul trouble. But his offensive game is rapidly coming along and he's the most aggressive rebounder among the Rebels' big men. With BYU's size — even though Brandon Davies is out — he needs to lead the charge inside.
As for today's prediction and 'Pick to Click' ... I'm going with UNLV in a shootout, 78-75, and taking Stanback as my pick to go off. I think his poor performance the first time around really ate at him.