Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 | 9:03 p.m.
Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down UNLV's final tune-up for Saturday's highly-anticipated game against Wisconsin — a 92-56 ripping of Southeastern Louisiana. The guys discuss, among other things, the progress of the Rebels' big men, where Tre'Von Willis fits into the rotation come this weekend and the future of freshman wing Karam Mashour.
Here’s all you need to know about the initial 12 minutes of Wednesday’s UNLV basketball game: Some guy named Steve asked some girl named Jessica to marry him. She said yes.
As for the action on the court at the Thomas & Mack Center, let’s just say Steve and Jessica gave the fans a little more to cheer about than the Rebels in the early going against Southeastern Louisiana.
They struggled finding a rhythm offensively, lacked overall intensity and were sloppy on both ends of the court. While a victory was never in doubt, the Rebels’ 92-56 victory was more of a challenge early than anticipated.
The Rebels’ wake-up call came with about nine minutes left in the first half.
Senior forward Chace Stanback got tangled with Southeastern Louisiana’s Jason Marks under the basket, and Marks threw an elbow that connected with Stanback in the upper chest.
Marks would be ejected; Stanback proceeded to hit a pair of free throws, and the Rebels went on a 24-8 run to close the half with a 13-point lead.
The Rebels, plagued at times last year with slow starts, can’t afford a repeat performance Saturday.
That’s when they host nationally ranked Wisconsin in one of the most significant non-league games of the year. It’s one of those games where a victory would help improve the Rebels’ resume in March.
Maybe they were lackadaisical at times against Southeastern Louisiana because the players knew the game was a tune-up for Saturday. Whatever the case, slow starts are a formula for disaster — against Southeastern Louisiana, Wisconsin or any team on the schedule.
UNLV eventually wore down an outmatched Southeastern Louisiana, playing a second half with plenty of highlight-reel moments and strong play. After all, scoring 92 points and shooting 62-percent is a pretty good night.
Here are some other observations from Wednesday’s game.
1) The Rebels need Tre’Von Willis: After Friday’s blowout victory against UC Riverside, when seemingly every player on the Rebels’ roster contributed, I briefly questioned how senior guard Tre’Von Willis would fit into the rotation when he returns Saturday from suspension. They appeared to be that effective offensively. After tonight’s game, however, there is no doubt Willis is needed back in the lineup. The Rebels had too many combinations on the floor that lacked a true scorer, which is something Willis consistently adds. A preseason All-Mountain West Conference selection, Willis can create his own scoring opportunities off the dribble, is calm under pressure and provides veteran leadership. He’ll be a welcome addition to the lineup against Wisconsin.
1) The three-point streak continues …barely: Derrick Jasper dribbled the ball up the court midway through the second half and appeared headed for an easy layup. That’s when most of the fans in the half-filled arena starting yelling for a three-pointer. You see, the program’s streak of games with a three-pointer made was in jeopardy. Jasper passed to Karam Mashour for an easy bucket, but the fans barely cheered. Yes, the streak is that important. Stanback finally connected from beyond the arc with a little more than seven minutes to play, easily receiving the biggest applause of the night. The basket extended the Rebels’ lead to 30 points and sent several fans to the exit. Call Stanback the game’s Most Valuable Player. UNLV went 1 of 8 on 3-pointers, but the streak that started in 1986 when the NCAA adopted the three-point field goal was extended to a nation’s best 774 games. But will the streak continue? With no true long-range threat on the roster following Kendall Wallace’s season-ending knee injury and Matt Shaw’s dismal, these anxious nights could be more common.
1) Karam Mashour brings confidence offensively: The freshman from Israel, who scored 10 points in his debut, wasn’t shy with the ball in his hands and has the aggressive style of play that will be an asset coming off the bench. He’ll be a great change-of-pace player replacing Jasper, who is more patient offensively and often looks to pass first.