AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Published Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010 | 5:45 p.m.
Updated Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010 | 8:14 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins 71-59
ANAHEIM, Calif. — UNLV answered the bell after falling behind early to Virginia Tech on Sunday, then never let up against its most athletic and physical opponent yet.
The Rebels (6-0) defeated Virginia Tech (4-2) by a count of 71-59 at the Anaheim Convention Center behind a 17-point, 7-rebound performance by tournament MVP Chace Stanback.
Tre'Von Willis hit a game-clinching 3-pointer with 90 seconds left, and in his best showing this season scored 14 points. Quintrell Thomas also scored 14, while Anthony Marshall tallied 10 and came up with several key defensive plays.
UNLV out-rebounded Virginia Tech, 29-28, and overcame a sensational 30-point performance from Hokies star senior guard Malcolm Delaney.
The Rebels improved to 6-0 on the season, and will take part in the Missouri Valley-Mountain West challenge on Wednesday night at Illinois State. That will be followed by a Saturday night showdown up at Nevada-Reno. They will likely find themselves in both Top 25 polls come Monday morning for the first time this season.
For full postgame coverage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:31, Second Half, UNLV leads 64-56
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The game is getting into its most heated stage, and Virginia Tech is now down a key piece.
After Chace Stanback was called for his third and fourth fouls in less than a minute, the refs appeared to give a make-up call of sorts to UNLV, as Virginia Tech's Jeff Allen was called for his fifth and final infraction on a bucket that would have brought the Hokies to within three points. Instead, it was labeled a charge.
The Rebels are also coming up with clutch buckets inside as Virginia Tech appears out of sorts defensively.
Anthony Marshall and Quintrell Thomas each have big two-handed dunks in recent minutes, while Chace Stanback put in a reverse lay-up out of the last TV timeout off of a great entry pass from Marshall.
7:50, Second Half, UNLV leads 57-47
ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Virginia Tech woke up emotionally off of that elbow against Oscar Bellfield, UNLV matched the intensity.
In turn, the Rebels have looked like the more complete team and now hold a 57-47 lead in the 76 Classic title game with 7:50 left to go in Anaheim.
The Rebels are just 2-of-15 from 3-point range, but are sharing the ball well and cutting for easier buckets. They've also muscled-up in the paint, and are out-rebounding the Hokies, 25-24.
The Hokies are 9-of-14 from 3-point range, and Malcolm Delaney has hit six of them while scoring 25 of the team's 47 points. The problem is that none of the Virginia Tech players have produced consistently on the offensive end or can create a shot for themselves.
Chace Stanback has a team-high 15 points for UNLV to go with seven rebounds, while Quintrell Thomas has 11 crucial points in his second straight impressive offensive outing.
15:47, Second Half, UNLV leads 43-41
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Virginia Tech was woken up by an intentional foul called on UNLV's Oscar Bellfield after he elbowed Malcolm Delaney in the face, and the two free throws following it have made it a two-point game, with UNLV ahead 43-41.
Delaney is hot to start the second half, with seven points and his fourth 3-pointer of the game. He now has a game-high 19.
Quintrell Thomas, as he did in the first half, has come out of the gates hot offensively with four points for UNLV.
This marked the third time this season that a Rebels game has been halted for at least three minutes while refs review an elbow. It's something the NCAA is cracking down on harder this season in general. It hurt the game's overall flow, as it was sent into a TV timeout merely 20 seconds later. It also made Virginia Tech wake up some on defense, as the entire team appeared to take offense to the elbow.
Halftime, UNLV leads 37-30
ANAHEIM, Calif. — UNLV confused Virginia Tech to no end with its endless backcourt traps and double teams, while the Hokies got back in it with 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone defenses. Still, the more technically sound team — UNLV — holds a 37-30 halftime lead in the title game of the 76 Classic.
The Rebels have forced 10 turnovers, while committing only four of their own.
Virginia Tech's saving grace is a 6-of-9 showing from 3-point range. However, the Hokies have left plenty of points on the floor by going only 4-of-13 from 3-point range.
UNLV is just 2-of-11 from deep, but is hanging with the physical Hokies in the rebounding department, as VT leads that battle 17-15. The Rebels are 15-of- 23 from 2-point range.
Chace Stanback leads UNLV with nine points, while Anthony Marshall has been big on both ends. He has eight points, three rebounds and two assists. His back-up — Tre'Von Willis — has seven points off of the bench on 3-of-6 shooting.
VT's Malcolm Delaney leads all scorers with 12 points, and while not a true point guard, he has four assists for the Hokies. He is, however, responsible for four of those turnovers.
UNLV is going to continue to be physical with VT, because until the Hokies prove they can hurt the Rebels at the free throw line, there's no reason not to.
The Rebels are also in better shape from a depth standpoint. Their bench has outscored the Hokies' 15-2.
3:56, First Half, UNLV leads 31-27
ANAHEIM, Calif. — UNLV got ahead of Virginia Tech by as many as 10 points at the tail end of its torrid run fueled by pressure backcourt defense.
Since then, the Hokies have scored six unanswered points and have concocted a nice defensive plan of their own. They've dropped into a 1-3-1 zone, which crippled Oklahoma State late in their game on Friday, and UNLV is just as ineffective against it.
The Rebels didn't practice much against it, and merely walked through it yesterday during a light practice.
Meanwhile, the Rebels have been getting called for more fouls while pressuring as the half has worn on and have put the Hokies into the double bonus. They're getting helped, though, by Virginia Tech's poor 4-of-9 start from the free throw line.
UNLV is still a strong 15-of-29 from the floor. Chace Stanback is leading the way with nine points.
For VT, star guard Malcolm Delaney is off to his typical hot start from a scoring standpoint, with a game-high 12 points. That includes three 3-pointers.
11:52, First Half, UNLV leads 18-16
ANAHEIM, Calif. — UNLV is now asserting itself more than ever defensively in the backcourt, and its reaping major benefits.
Virginia Tech star Malcolm Delaney, who came in averaging 6.2 turnovers per game, committed two of them after the Hokies got an early lead. One turned into a Jeff Hawkins and-one layup in transition, and the Hokies are now having serious trouble against the backcourt pressure.
Tyrone Garland is getting the sixth-man minutes for VT, who is without guard Erick Green. Green hurt his calf on Thursday in a win over Cal State Northridge.
Meanwhile, Chace Stanback is off to his normal start for UNLV. He has seven points, including a big 3-pointer and a put-back layup off of a Tre'Von Willis miss.
15:43, First Half, Virginia Tech leads 13-9
ANAHEIM, Calif. — UNLV's legs look fresh, and the defense is crisp so far.
What's hurting the Rebels, though, is mostly out of their control.
Virginia Tech has an early 13-9 lead in Anaheim in the 76 Classic title game behind 5-of-7 shooting and a 3-for-3 start from long range. Star senior guard Malcolm Delaney is 2-of-2 from deep.
Meanwhile, the big men are helping keep UNLV afloat offensively. Sophomore Quintrell Thomas, off of his biggest game yet as a Rebel on Friday against Murray State, scored the team's first five points, including an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Out of the first TV timeout, UNLV is turning up the defensive pressure in the backcourt and has forced two quick turnovers.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It's far too early in the 2010-11 season to truly get into discussing RPI and NCAA tournament resumés.
But everyone thinks about those things from October until March. There's no denying it.
So why not get into the implications that tonight's 76 Classic title game could have for UNLV (5-0), who faces Virginia Tech (4-1) at 6 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center?
The Rebels enter as a 3.5 favorite over the Hokies, and a win would likely mean a Top 25 ranking come tomorrow. It would also give UNLV one of the nation's most impressive non-conference resumés in the nation to this point.
The Rebels already have wins over two teams — Murray State and Wisconsin — who are likely to be in the NCAA tournament field this spring.
Meanwhile, a loss to Virginia Tech would be far from crippling to UNLV's potential at-large case. Remember, the Rebels still have road games with Louisville (Dec. 11) and Kansas State (Dec. 21) left before the rough Mountain West road begins.
Here, now, are three things to watch tonight as UNLV and Virginia Tech go at it ...
1) Malcolm Delaney is averaging 6.2 turnovers per game for Virginia Tech. That doesn't speak to how effective and integral he is for the Hokies' overall attack. But that number is a bit inflated with it being early in the season. However, if he commits six tonight, it will greatly affect Virginia Tech's chances against a UNLV team that will pressure him constantly with traps and double-teams.
2) What will the Rebels get from Tre'Von Willis? After appearing to break through a bit against Tulsa on Thursday with 12 points and three assists in 25 minutes, he looked on Friday like he was having a hard time re-adjusting to playing on back-to-back days. He had four points and only played 15 minutes due to foul trouble. Again, there is no rush for Willis to be back in 2009-10 form right away this season off of his suspension and knee surgery. The Rebels have more than enough around him to survive and thrive while he finds his legs. But his minutes have to be meaningful against a team like this.
3) UNLV got punched in the mouth last year against USC in its third game in four days. I'm convinced they look fresher coming into this one in a similar scenario than they did last year. But conditioning has nothing to do with responding to an equally physical opponent. Can the Rebels hold the upper hand physically on the Hokies like they did on the Golden Hurricane and Racers so far this weekend?
As for a prediction and Pick to Click, I'm saying UNLV heads home with some hardware, 72-65. I think Chace Stanback is again the guy to go with, too. Again, like I said Friday, no reason to shift away from him, right? He'll present a tough match-up for the Hokies defensively.
Also, Kevin Kruger noted to me yesterday that Oscar Bellfield has a history of playing well against point guards who are more highly regarded than he is. Delaney is one of the ACC's prized players. That's worth noting.
Talk to you again a bit after tip-off. And remember, to join the in-game conversation, add the #unlvmbb hashtag to your tweets.