Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 | 6 p.m.
Updated Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 | 8:55 p.m.
- Rebels back in national rankings at No. 21 in Associated Press poll (12-19-2011)
- Childhood made UNLV’s Smith ready for anything (12-19-2011)
- Teammates dedicate victory to Reggie Smith (12-18-2011)
- UNLV's Thomas comes up big against Illinois (12-17-2011)
- Rebels looking to prove themselves against No. 19 Illinois on Saturday (12-16-2011)
- UNLV’s Smith unlikely to play at Illinois (12-15-2011)
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
A highlight reel from UNLV's 81-63 victory against Louisiana-Monroe (1-11) wouldn't include much, if anything, from the first half.
When the Rebels came out of the break, they executed their game plan to perfection: create turnovers and convert them into easy baskets. It's the same thing UNLV (12-2) wants to do every night. On Monday, it just took them 20 minutes to really achieve it.
In the first half, UNLV forced 10 turnovers and shot 53 percent from the floor. But the Warhawks' use of the shot clock limited the Rebels' number of attempts, which is why they only had 37 points at the break.
After regrouping at halftime, UNLV came out on fire and ran ULM out of the game. Mike Moser livened the crowd with a couple of dunks, but the best Rebel wire-to-wire was Chace Stanback. He finished with eight 3-pointers and notched a game-high 29 points. Other REbels in double figures included Oscar Bellfield (10 points) and Carlos Lopez, who added nine rebounds to his 12 points.
In his UNLV debut, Reggie Smith scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting. He also had two rebounds and one assist. Quintrell Thomas, who notched 13 points in UNLV's victory against Illinois, didn't play because of a turf toe injury.UNLV in complete control, up 76-52 late in the game
Kendall Wallace will not go quietly into the night. With Reggie Smith becoming eligible, Wallace was the most likely candidate to see his role and minutes diminish going forward. Well, tonight coach Dave Rice has given him a chance to prove himself, and he's responded with three 3-pointers, helping UNLV take a 76-52 lead with 3:44 remaining.
Wallace is just one of many Rebels enjoying a terrific night behind the three-point line. UNLV has hit 13-of-21 attempts, which has more than made up for getting outrebounded by five.
This entire half, UNLV has played the style and tempo that they want. The only surprise is that it took them until the second half.Moser's reverse dunks key UNLV to 57-35 lead
First, it was Mike Moser's slams. Then Oscar Bellfield, who assisted both of those dunks, got into the action. By the second media timeout, almost every Rebel player on the court had made a crowd-pleasing play as UNLV raced out to a 57-35 lead with 11:52 to play.
Moser's reverse alley-oops got everything going for UNLV, which scored the first 11 points of the second half. Moser actually missed his third-dunk attempt, which really should have been a short jumper, but his alley-oop partner Bellfield picked him up with a steal and slam on the next possession.
Those plays started a dominating run that included a nifty shot fake from Carlos Lopez and big blocks from Lopez and Anthony Marshall. The Rebels came out determined in the second half, and this first run has made it nearly impossible for the Warhawks to play at the same pace they employed in the first half.Stanback has 16 points as UNLV leads 37-27 at halftime
Chace Stanback now has the green light as soon as he crosses mid-court. He has hit all five of his three-point attempts, which at halftime accounts for more than half of UNLV's total made field goals. The Rebels lead 37-27 at the break.
Stanback has 16 points. Hugh Mingo is the leading scorer for the Warhawks with 11.
Rebel guard, Reggie Smith, making his debut tonight has three points and one foul in just three minutes. Instead of using Smith a lot, coach Dave Rice gave 10 first-half minutes to guard Kendall Wallace, who also has one made 3-pointer and an assist.
Once again, the Rebels are giving in to their opponents' tempo. The Warhawks are taking 20-30 seconds off the clock before attempting a shot on each possession. That's the biggest reason for UNLV's low point total thus far. The Rebels are shooting 53 percent, but they aren't getting enough possessions to put much distance on the scoreboard.
In the second half, the Rebels will want to continue turning the Warhawks over (10 in the first half) and pressure the guards when they dribble the ball 40 feet from the court. If UNLV can make a couple of runs, ULM will be forced to pick up the pace because it won't have any other choice.Reggie Smith hits 3-pointer on first shot for UNLV
Reggie Smith's first possession ended with his first defensive foul. His first offensive possession ended with a 3-pointer. Overall, the Rebels will take that start as they lead 22-15 with 7:40 left in the first half.
Smith got caught being a little lazy as the Warhawks wound down the shot clock. Louisiana-Monroe, like most UNLV opponents lately, is not taking shots for 20-30 seconds on each possession. The ULM guard streaked past Smith and the sophomore guard was called for a push under the basket. Obviously not what he was looking for, but his defense was solid in the following possessions.
On offense, he drilled an open 3-pointer, and then two possessions later drove to the basket and kicked it out to Justin Hawkins for a 3-point attempt in the corner. The shot rimmed out, but it was a good transition possession, and it's the type of play that UNLV needs Smith to excel on.Rebels take early 6-4 lead against Warhawks
Chace Stanback has put an ugly two-point effort against Illinois behind him with the Rebels first six points as UNLV takes a 6-4 lead with 14:54 left in the first half.
Stanback looked like he really wanted to get started and prove to himself that Saturday — 0-for4, two points — was just an aberration. He took UNLV's first three shots and hit two 3-pointers.
The Rebels have forced five turnovers, but haven't taken advantage because of sloppy passes and four turnovers of their own. Once they calm down on offense, the rout will be on.UNLV’s Reggie Smith debuts tonight against Louisiana-Monroe
As long as No. 21 UNLV (11-2) shows up, tonight’s game against Louisiana-Monroe will be remembered only as Reggie Smith’s debut. The details of the final score and the route the game took to get there should fade away.
The Warhawks (1-10) don’t pose any kind of real threat. Their lone victory came at Nicholls State, a game the Colonels have already avenged by going to Louisiana-Monroe two weeks later and winning by 12. That’s one of two bizarre in-season home-and-homes on the Warhawks’ schedule — the other being against Indiana State.
Starting forward Christian Bibi Ndongo weighs less than UNLV point guard Anthony Marshall, despite checking in at five inches taller. And Louisiana-Monroe averages 12.5 turnovers as well as nine fewer points than its opponent per game.
Really, this is a perfect first game for Smith, who's playing for the first time after sitting out a year after transferring from Marquette.
Had he been able to make the trip to Chicago to play against Illinois, he not only would have been dealing with a much better opponent but the pressure of performing in front of dozens of family and friends.
Tonight, there’s virtually no pressure. He doesn’t have to play well to win, so that should allow him to stay comfortable on the court and work his way back into game shape.
First impressions have a way of sticking, but good or bad, don’t take too much away from Smith’s performance tonight.
His minutes and role going forward will probably differ — maybe greatly — from what he does tonight. Just sit back and enjoy.
There is, however, a storyline worth remembering from tonight’s game.
Quintrell Thomas had a breakout game on Saturday, not only by the numbers, but by the way he carried himself on the court. He seemed to really enjoy playing, which hasn’t always appeared to be the case.
Will he come out with the same type of fire and enjoyment at home against an inferior opponent? The Rebels’ dominant post play against Illinois was a pleasant surprise. Thomas, Carlos Lopez and Brice Massamba all got involved at both ends of the floor and controlled the action down low.
Of those three, Thomas has shown that type of play the least this season. Parlaying Saturday’s game with another solid performance could be the confidence boost he needs as UNLV revs up for conference play.
Bern’s prediction: This one should be over by halftime. UNLV is feeling good about itself after getting a big victory on the road, and Louisiana-Monroe will feel the brunt of that confidence early and often. The Rebels will run the Warhawks out of the building and crack the century mark for the first time this season. UNLV 103, Louisiana-Monroe 67.