Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 | 9:45 p.m.
- Countdown to tip-off: Birch doesn’t need to do it all to impact the Rebels this year
- Rebels’ last dress rehearsal before opener is Wednesday against Dixie State
- Countdown to tip-off: Reinhardt brings swagger and skill to the guard spots
- UNLV’s Anthony Marshall, Quintrell Thomas have flashes of strong play in scrimmage at UCLA
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
Senior guard Anthony Marshall spent the final minute of UNLV’s postgame press conference Wednesday breaking down the game-winning play of an 81-80 overtime exhibition victory against Dixie State. That alone tells you what you need to know about the 18th-ranked Rebels' near disaster of a debut at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“At some points it was embarrassing how poorly we played,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said.
After falling behind by seven in overtime UNLV scored the game’s final eight points. On the final drive, Marshall took the ball from freshman Katin Reinhardt and started his drive at the top of the key with about 10 seconds left and both teams out of timeouts. Reinhardt had hit a big 3-pointer near the end of regulation and again in overtime so his man didn’t want to leave him alone in the corner.
“They really didn’t want to help off and give a 3 so the lane kind of opened up for me,” Marshall said. “When I got close to the rim they all sunk in and I saw Carlos (Lopez-Sosa) and he made a spectacular play for a reverse and made it.”
Lopez-Sosa’s man abandoned him to stop Marshall’s drive, leaving the former wide open on the left side of the basket. Lopez-Sosa went to the other side and laid in the game-winner with 5.6 seconds left for his only points of the game. Dixie State’s final attempt ended with a harmless off-balance shot and what was left from the crowd of 12,814 erupted like this game was something bigger than a nail-biting overtime victory for a team that’s not supposed to have this kind of game.
“There’s no doubt, starting with me, we didn’t give it everything we have tonight,” Rice said. “And that’s not fair to the fans who come here, that’s not fair to our program.”
Reinhardt poured in a game-high 20 points, followed by Marshall with 16. Freshman Anthony Bennett had nine points and eight rebounds.
The Red Storm led by as much as five down the stretch in regulation and it was Reinhardt’s 3 with 1:08 left that put UNLV back in front by one. The Rebels led by two when a foul on Lopez-Sosa with just one second left gave Dixie State two free throws to tie the game and they went to overtime after Marshall’s 70 feet heave rimmed out at the buzzer.
The first half was the coronation it was supposed to be for UNLV. Junior Mike Moser had 13 points in 14 minutes and senior Quintrell Thomas scored 10 as the Rebels built a 17-point halftime lead. Though he didn’t score Bryce Dejean-Jones looked good in his first action in a year and a half and the first since breaking his left, nonshooting hand a month ago. Freshman Savon Goodman started the game and was equally impressive.
The rest of the game was supposed to be more of the same — swarming defense that generated breakaway points — and a chance to get a guy like freshman forward Demetris Morant onto the court for what would likely have been his only minutes of the season. Morant is going to meet with Rice on Thursday to discuss possibly redshirting and both sides have said in the last week they thought it was a good idea.
Instead, Morant never got off the bench as the Red Storm cut their deficit to six less than two and a half minutes into the second half and never went away despite falling behind by 13 a few minutes later.
Dixie State’s McKay Massey (25 points) and Dalton Groskruetz (19 points) both would have new career highs had this game counted for records. They were a combined 16-of-26 from the field, including 9-for-13 behind the three-point line.
Conversely that was a disaster zone for UNLV. The Rebels finished 6-of-32 behind the three-point line. That and sluggish second halves were two of the team’s biggest problems down the stretch last season, and clearly the new pieces haven’t immediately solved those problems.
“We shot a lot of contested 3s and then we started missing some open 3s and that really translated to our defense,” Marshall said. “I think we got our heads down on the offensive end, slumped our shoulders and then went down on the defensive end and really didn’t give the same effort.”
Thomas, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, said it was good to get a game like this out of the way while it doesn’t count. Rice doesn’t get particularly fired up or emotional in any interview settings, but the speed of his intro to the postgame press conference and occasional flairs while dissecting what just occurred ensured that Thursday’s practice will not be a pleasant one for the Rebels.
“You can imagine we had a few things to talk about in the locker room,” Rice said, “and we are far from done.”