Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 | 2:30 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 | 5:59 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins 68-61
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — One of UNLV's most criticized outside shooters this conference season figured it out when it mattered the most.
Junior Oscar Bellfield hit four 3-pointers in the second half, then to finish it off, assisted Anthony Marshall's game-clinching layup in the final minute. UNLV got a much-needed 68-61 win at Colorado State.
The victory gets UNLV to 20-7 overall and 8-5 in MWC play, helps solidify the Rebels' NCAA tournament profile and gives them a much clearer shot at a third-place finish in the league.
On the night, Bellfield led the Rebels with 18 points to go with three boards and three assists.
Colorado State drops to 18-8 overall and 8-4 in the league, with road games at San Diego State and BYU still looming.
UNLV trailed at the half, 27-22, after shooting just 25.7 percent from the floor in the game's first 20 minutes. The Rebels, however, hit seven 3-pointers in the second half, including two from Chace Stanback and one from Anthony Marshall on top of Bellfield's outburst.
Stanback had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Marshall scored 16 points to go with six boards. Tre'Von Willis had nine points, eight assists and five rebounds in a gritty effort.
The Rams were led by senior Big man Andy Ogide's 19 points and seven rebounds, but his partner in crime, Travis Franklin, was held scoreless after killing UNLV in the first meeting. The Rebels only allowed the Rams to grab five offensive rebounds on the night.
UNLV now has a chance to all but lock up an at-large NCAA tourney berth at New Mexico on Wednesday night, when the Rebels will tip with the Lobos at 6 p.m. in Albuquerque.
For full postgame coverage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:47, Second half, UNLV leads 54-51
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With a Pierce Hornung free throw coming after the break, UNLV still leads Colorado State, 54-51, with 3:47 left to play in Fort Collins.
UNLV had a couple of chances to extend what was a seven-point lead moments ago, but Colorado State just won't go away.
The Rebels had a game just like this within their grasp last Saturday against San Diego
11:54, Second Half, UNLV leads 41-39
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — After shooting just 25.7 percent from the floor in the first half, UNLV has hit eight of 14 attempts to start the second half and is 3-of-5 from deep so far.
As a result, the Rebels are back in front of the Rams, 41-39, with under 12 minutes left to play.
Oscar Bellfield just recently hit back-to-back 3-pointers, while Chace Stanback hit one just out of the halftime locker room.
The Rebels have done this while maintaining their strong defensive presence, only allowing Colorado State nine shot attempts to this point in the half.
Stanback only has five points, but now has 10 rebounds for the game, including eight on the defensive glass. The Rebels have only allowed CSU four offensive caroms so far.
Halftime, CSU leads 27-22
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — If you can believe it, UNLV's 25.7 percent shooting at the end of the half looks respectable compared to what it was about 10 minutes ago.
After a 2-of-16 start from the floor, the Rebels at least found a way to hit a few shots and stay within range of Colorado State, who heated up big-time at the end of the half.
CSU hit a trio of 3-pointers in the closing minutes before the break and currently leads 27-22.
UNLV is just 9-of-35 from the floor and 1-of-6 from deep. Making matters worse is that the team now is starting to look tentative before pulling the trigger on outside shots. This is most evident with Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback, who are a combined 2-of-13 from the floor so far.
What's helping keep the Rebels in the game is their defense and rebounding. The two teams are tied with 21 boards apiece, while CSU is only 11-of-26 from the floor. Before the late run, the Rams were 0-for-8 from deep.
Tre'Von Willis is trying to take things over, but is having trouble exploding in the middle of CSU's swarming defense. The Rebels will either have to commit to attacking across the board, or some threes are going to have to start falling, because in this atmosphere, you get the feeling that the Rams are just now getting started.
11:57, First Half, CSU leads 10-6
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — So far, the Rebels, who wanted to show off a new look today, are shooting as poorly as they have over the last couple of weeks.
UNLV is playing with good energy early, but is 2-of-16 from the floor, trailing the Rams early on, 10-6.
UNLV's only two buckets so far are transition scores by Anthony Marshall in close.
Neither team is shooting it particularly well, as CSU's percentage was lifted recently by back-to-back hits off of the bench by Wes Eikmeier.
UNLV is 0-for-4 from 3-point range, and both teams' shooting might be a bit skittish as a result of both the magnitude of the game and the crowd in the stands. Moby Arena is sold out, providing one of the better road atmospheres the Rebels have seen all season.
But they are in no position to let that bother them. If the shooting doesn't turn around soon, this will get far worse before it gets any better for UNLV.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Well, here it is. The chips are all on the table, and it's UNLV's move.
Do the Rebels respond to the challenge today and solidify their NCAA tournament at-large résumé? Do they get swept by Colorado State, leaving plenty of work to be done in order to get a fourth berth in five years?
One thing is for sure: It won't be the same sleepy atmosphere here at Moby Arena today that UNLV has encountered on this trip in recent years. The nearly 9,000-seat arena is expected to have more than 7,000 folks in attendance today.
Just like the Rebels (19-7 overall, 7-5 Mountain West), the Rams (18-7, 8-3) are in search of an NCAA tournament bid, with their run coming just three years after posting an 0-16 record in the league.
They slammed UNLV at the Mack back in mid-January, 78-63, and with a sweep, Lon Kruger's club is in danger of finishing the regular season 0-6 agains the MWC's top three teams.
Also, a loss today likely means that UNLV won't be able to avoid a No. 4 vs. No. 5 match-up in the MWC tournament quarterfinals with New Mexico.
With a win, UNLV can take a deep breath for the first time in a while and head to Albuquerque for Wednesday's game with a pocket full of house money.
Enough of the 'what-ifs,' though. Let's talk logistics. Here are three things I'll be watching today …
1) Tre'Von Willis told us the other day that UNLV would have a new look, and by new look, it sounds like he means the press-heavy style they employed on the defensive end early in the season. That, of course, makes opponents consistently uncomfortable and creates easy offense. But are the Rebels sincere? It wouldn't be a bad move to go back to the hectic style, because what's been used of late hasn't produced much consistency on the offensive end.
2) Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas need to play huge today. In the loss to CSU in Las Vegas, the Rams' interior duo of Travis Franklin and Andy Ogide combined for 42 points and 16 rebounds, getting wherever they wanted and whatever they wanted in the paint. On the other side, Thomas and Lopez had pretty nondescript evenings. With Brice Massamba's minutes likely limited tonight due to a shot in the head at practice the other day, Thomas and Lopez need to both play big. Thomas is rebounding much better than he was in the first meeting, while Lopez's offensive game has also made strides.
3) Chace Stanback had his break-out game offensively in this gym last season. He hit several mid-range jumpers en route to scoring 19 points in a gritty 80-72 win. In UNLV's two lack-luster offensive performances over the last week, he's a combined 4-of-14 from the floor and 0-for-6 from three. He has to bust out of it (again) for UNLV to be successful.
Now, prediction time …
I know a lot of the money in Vegas is coming in on UNLV, but that was also the case leading up to last Saturday's game against San Diego State. I have to give a slight edge to Colorado State here, but honestly, nothing would surprise me today. I'll take CSU, 68-66.
My Pick to Click for the Rebels is Stanback. This seems like as good of a spot as any for him to pick things back up.
I'll be back after tip-off. Remember, you can join the in-game conversation below by adding the #unlvmbb tag to your in-game tweets. Also, give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene.