Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 | 6:30 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 | 8:50 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins, 75-65
LARAMIE, Wyo. — UNLV followed up maybe its worst offensive half of the season with its best, scoring a season-high 51 second half points in defeating Wyoming, 74-65, on Tuesday night in Laramie.
The Rebels' previous high for a half was 49 against TCU earlier in league play.
Oscar Bellfield, Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis each scored 17 points for the Rebels, who enter their week-long layoff at 16-5 overall and 4-3 in league play.
Quintrell Thomas, starting at center for the first time in seven games, had a nice 10-point, 7-rebound effort. Anthony Marshall had eight points and 11 rebounds.
UNLV was down 31-23 at the break, but Stanback and Bellfield combined to score 12 of the team's first 14 points out of the break. A Willis 3-pointer moments later put them up for the first time since leading 21-18 late in the first half, and the Rebels never looked back.
UNLV is back in action next Wednesday night back at the Thomas & Mack Center, when Utah comes to town.
For full postgame coverage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:55, Second Half, UNLV leads 67-55
LARAMIE, Wyo. — UNLV has out-scored Wyoming by 20 points in the second half and appears well on its way to improving to 4-3 in Mountain West Conference play.
Tre'Von Willis now has 17 points for the Rebels, after hitting his third 3-pointer of the game, and the hot shooting has opened it up offensively for everyone.
Quintrell Thomas was the latest beneficiary, as he has 10 points and seven rebounds in one of his finest performances of the season. His last two buckets come on two-handed slams off of nice interior feeds from Willis and Anthony Marshall.
11:32, Second Half, UNLV leads 48-46
LARAMIE, Wyo. — UNLV came out to start the second half and sunk in Wyoming's zone by feeding Quintrell Thomas on back-to-back possessions.
On the first, he scored on a tough 5-foot baby hook, then on the second kicked out to Oscar Bellfield for an open three. Since then, the Rebels' offense has rolled, and they've shot ahead of Wyoming, 48-46.
Doing most of the damage on the scoreboard is the trio of Bellfield, Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis.
So far, they are 11-of-16 from the floor this half. Bellfield has six points on two treys, while Stanback has four second half buckets. Willis now has a game-high 14 points, including a 3-pointer that gave UNLV its first lead since 21-18 in the first half.
Willis looks worlds better than he did just three days ago against New Mexico. The Rebels are feeding off of his crafty play, and he's playing some of his best ball in quite some time.
Halftime, Wyoming leads 31-23
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Two years ago, when UNLV lost at Wyoming late in the season, it pretty much stuck a dagger in the Rebels' at-large NCAA tournament hopes.
A loss tonight would be nearly as crippling, and with another half like the first, the Rebels could easily find themselves in those shoes.
They trail the Cowboys at the break, 31-23, after going just 9-of-29 from the floor and 2-of-14 from deep in the first 20 minutes.
Tre'Von Willis leads the Rebels with nine points, doing so in 13 minutes off of the bench. He hit a 3-pointer to give UNLV a late 21-18 lead with just under seven minutes left to play in the stanza, but Wyoming then ripped off a 10-0 run, pushing them to where we are now.
The only thing keeping UNLV as close as it is is offensive ineptitude on the other side, as the Cowboys are only 12-of-29 from the floor.
UNLV's problem so far is turnovers, as eight uncharacteristic giveaways have turned into eight Wyoming points.
The Rebels are going to have to find a way to score points inside, instead of settling for so many outside shots again on a night where it appears they just aren't going to fall.
6:54, First Half, Wyoming leads 16-14
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Both teams so far are resembling the crowd, with sleepy performances sparse in terms of production. With just under seven minutes left in the first half, UNLV trails Wyoming, 16-14, in front of what is maybe a crowd of 2,000.
The Rebels are 5-of-21 from the floor so far with five turnovers, as the Cowboys are playing tougher defense than usual. What's helping UNLV is that Wyoming has struggled just as much on the offensive end.
It's hard to tell if the altitude is to blame for any of it, but the Rebels are getting a nice early boost off of the bench from Tre'Von Willis, who has scored four points in his first few minutes of action.
In the early going, Derrick Jasper was still showing some hesitation on the offensive end, passing on one layup in traffic and opting to kick out to Chace Stanback. He hasn't attempted a shot yet. As for Quintrell Thomas, he played the first seven minutes of the game but got winded after about five. He also struggled with the altitude at Air Force a couple of weeks ago.
LARAMIE, Wyo. — While it's Foam Finger Night for the home fans here at the Arena-Auditorium, it's Find Your Own Motivation Night for UNLV.
The Rebels will be taking on the Wyoming Cowboys in front of maybe one of the weakest crowds a Mountain West venue sees all season. The Pokes are only 8-11 overall and 1-4 in the MWC, but on top of that, the weather conditions outside are awful.
It's about 20 degrees, snowing steadily, very icy and quite windy. So if anyone wants a foam finger as a souvenir, let me know, because something's telling me many of them laid out on the seats will go unclaimed.
It's also Empty The Tank Night for the Rebels, who get a nice week off after this one before hosting Utah next Wednesday night.
Despite a lack of attendance this evening, there's still a game to be played, and here are the three keys for UNLV as it tries to again have a winning record in MWC play. Here are three things to watch this evening.
1) Tre'Von Willis's right knee, I'm told, is feeling better today than it was on Saturday, when he labored through 25 minutes off of the bench in the victory over New Mexico. It sounds like he moved around pretty well during last night's light workout here in Laramie. Knowing he has a week off to recover, will Willis try to push it a bit?
2) Two guys I'm looking for to try and take a step up: Derrick Jasper and Karam Mashour. In playing 25 minutes against the Lobos, Jasper never attempted a shot. The staff has to expect him to get aggressive again at some point this season. This seems like a good spot, as Wyoming wants this game to be a track meet. As for Mashour, he could get extended run against one of the MWC's weakest teams. The staff has shown some added trust in him of late, freeing him from his spot at the end of the bench for a few minutes here and there.
3) How does Quintrell Thomas react being back in the starting lineup? He has a chance to make Saturday's 7-point, 6-rebound performance a turning point for himself, as he defended cleanly, rebounded hard and didn't force offense. He's UNLV's most capable big man on both ends right now and has to play like it consistently.
On the Wyoming side, obviously with Djibril Thiam and Amath M'Baye, you're getting two of the more active, athletic big men in the league. Sophomore guard Desmar Jackson is a strong scorer, too, but I'm expecting g UNLV to go hard for this one with the break coming up.
My prediction will be the Rebels taking a win home in 75-58 fashion. My Pick to Click tonight is Anthony Marshall.
As always, to join the in-game conversation with me, add the #unlvmbb tag to your in-game tweets, and for flowing updates as the game develops, give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene.
Talk to you again after tip-off.