Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012 | 8:30 p.m.
- UNLV basketball in the driver’s seat after an ugly but effective week
- Mike Moser leads UNLV to its second consecutive overtime victory, 65-63 at Air Force
- UNLV’s Chace Stanback overcomes poor shooting to make game-winning steal
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
UNLV junior guard Anthony Marshall still hears the boos.
Last January, Colorado State came into the Thomas & Mack Center and embarrassed the Rebels. The Rams shot 56 percent from the field and ran the Rebels out of the building with a 78-63 loss.
The home crowd voiced its displeasure and after the game Marshall took to Twitter and apologized to the fans for the performance.
“I felt like we really didn’t come out and represent the university and the Las Vegas community well,” Marshall said. “You heard boos from the home crowd during the game and that’s something you never want to go through and that’s something that sticks in the back of my mind every time I come out here and play.”
Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m., No. 11 UNLV (20-3, 4-1) has a chance to erase that game from its collective memory with Colorado State (14-6, 3-2) coming back to town.
The Rams are coming off a home victory against No. 17 San Diego State, a win that vaulted the Rebels into a tie with the Aztecs atop the Mountain West. But Colorado State won’t be looking to do the Rebels any more favors.
In fact, Saturday’s victory has given the Rams renewed hope in making the NCAA Tournament, and a good performance Wednesday would only further that cause. Colorado State will try to achieve that by playing to its strength, which is excelling at the most basic aspect of the game: putting the ball in the basket.
The Rams rank No. 15 in the country in field-goal percentage (48.7 percent), No. 6 in free-throw percentage (77.3) and No. 4 in 3-point field-goal percentage (41.9).
That last figure is the one that has most of UNLV coach Dave Rice’s attention.
“It’s the first thing you prepare for, the fact that they have three and sometimes four guys on the floor who can all make 3-point shots,” Rice said.
“When they get going from the outside …”
Rice just shook his head at the thought of it.
Colorado State doesn’t take a lot of 3-pointers — UNLV has 240 more attempts this year — but the Rams are smart about when to pull the trigger, and when to use it as a decoy to move the ball inside. And once there, the Rams know how to draw fouls and make opponents pay.
Against San Diego State, Colorado State shot 23-of-23 at the free-throw line.
“We can guard them on the floor, can’t guard them at the free-throw line,” Rice said.
Colorado State coach Tim Miles was asked on the weekly teleconference if his team’s recent victory had added any pressure to his team to live up to new expectations. Miles seemed bemused.
“The only pressure that I’m worried about is UNLV on the ball and UNLV running through passing lanes,” Miles said.
Junior guard Wes Eikmeier, a transfer from Iowa State, leads the Rams with 15.8 points per game. Junior guard Dorian Green is right behind with 13.5 points per game while forwards Pierce Hornung and Will Bell anchor the interior with a combined 16.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
Good numbers, no doubt, but that’s about a half rebound less than what UNLV sophomore forward Mike Moser brings in by himself.
The Rebels’ game plan starts on the perimeter, but a big part of it also is getting the usual numbers from the reigning Mountain West player of the week.
“He’s become such a consistent rebounder that we have come to expect that he’s going to get somewhere in the vicinity of nine, 12, 14,” Rice said. “As a coaching staff we do take it for granted a little bit but at the same time we very much appreciate it.”
Moser wasn’t eligible during last year’s home debacle against the Rams. Rice was still an assistant at BYU.
Those are huge additions, but plenty of similarities are still there. And just like Rice discussed with his team the season-ending loss to Illinois before a rematch earlier this season, he went over that 78-63 loss to Colorado State.
“I think it’s relevant because there are a lot of players who played in the game for us and a lot of players who played in the game for them,” Rice said. “The bottom line … we did not do a good enough job contesting shooters and they just got way too many open looks. They’re very capable of making contested shots, but they’re always going to make shots that aren’t contested.
“So that’s the huge key for us.”