Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 | 5 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 | 8:03 p.m.
- Rebels searching for better mentality heading into road game at Fresno State
- Rebels still receiving votes in rankings, but not as many as Mountain West foe Colorado State
- UNLV Extras: Plenty of missed opportunities to go around in Rebels’ loss
- Rebels trail the whole way in disappointing setback at Boise State
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
Fresno State 64, UNLV 55
FRESNO, Calif. — Cimarron grad Kevin Olekaibe scored a game-high 21 points as Fresno State won just its second Mountain West game of the season, picking off UNLV 64-55 at the Save Mart Center on Wednesday night.
The Rebels were tied at halftime, then trailed by 16 with just more than 11 minutes expired in the second half. While UNLV's shots rimmed out, Fresno made shots at the end of shot clocks, attacked the rim and outscored UNLV in second-chance points despite finishing with fewer offensive rebounds.
Anthony Marshall and Anthony Bennett paced the Rebels, finishing with 19 and 15 points, respectively. Tyler Johnson added 15 points for the Bulldogs.
UNLV shot 35 percent from the floor, including just 4-for-21 on three-point attempts. A lot of those were chucked up in desperation time as the Rebels attempted to stave off their second straight loss.
Excluding its victory against Wyoming, Fresno hadn't led by more than eight against any league opponent coming into this game. Yet it controlled the second half completely. UNLV's half-court offense offered few great possessions, and even when they got looks the shots rimmed out.
This is the new low point in UNLV's season. There's no other way to describe it. I'm honestly curious to see how postgame thoughts differ, if at all, from the Boise State game.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight's UNLV defeat.
Fresno State 49, UNLV 36
7:59 remaining int he second half
FRESNO, Calif. — This is desperation time if there ever was one for UNLV. Full-court pressure, double teams, aggressive offense; the Rebels need to pull out all the stops down big on the road to the league's worst team.
UNLV has had more than a few good, open shots rim out, but nobody wants to hear about the excuses. On paper this isn't even a close matchup, yet the Bulldogs have all the momentum, plus they're already in the bonus. If the Rebels come back it's going to take execution at a higher level than they've played with since at least San Diego State. Do they have that in them tonight?
Fresno State 32, UNLV 28
15:55 remaining int he second half
FRESNO, Calif. — There's not much to say at this point, other than the fact that Fresno State, a team with basically nothing to play for until the conference tournament, is playing better than UNLV, a team trying to chase a league title.
The contrast of these motivations with the results on the court is staggering. The Rebels are having a hard time holding onto anything on offense, with the Bulldogs scrapping and reaching in to swipe it away every time.
And half-court offense, a much-criticized portion of UNLV's arsenal, has been getting good looks with very few conversions. Simply put, this isn't good enough from a team with a lot to play for.
UNLV 24, Fresno State 24
FRESNO, Calif. — Las Vegas product Kevin Olekaibe, a Cimarron-Memorial grad, has 12 points, leading Fresnot State into a halftime tie with UNLV at the Save Mart Center.
The Rebels are shooting 31 percent from the field with six turnovers. UNLV is leading 22-17 on the boards, though the Rebels haven't been able to do nearly as much as they would like to with those extra chances.
Anthony Marshall leads UNLV with eight points while four other Rebels each have four points. The Rebels are 2-for-8 on 3-point attempts.
There's not much going UNLV's way lately, and more than that there's just not much going on. This place doesn't really get loud even when the Bulldogs do something good. For any kind of realistic shot at a regular season league title, UNLV has to come out with more energy, finish when it's at the rim and pull out a victory. The Rebels can't afford this loss.
UNLV 19, Fresno State 17
7:39 remaining in the first half
FRESNO, Calif. — While they're not doing a particularly good job finishing at the rim, the Rebels are getting out and running into close shots much more than they had in recent games.
Like I said, UNLV is maybe 50/50 on converting those chances once they get there, but they've all been shots UNLV would take again and again. When you're missing those shots it's OK long term. The problem arises when you're taking, and missing, bad and contested shots.
Khem Birch is the best example of this so far. He's getting position and making moves, both in transition and half-court sets. His results have been a mixed bag, but almost all of them are shots the Rebels would love to get again.
Fresno State 12, UNLV 11
13:20 remaining in the first half
FRESNO, Calif. — There is a considerable lack of enthusiasm from the sparse crowd at the Save Mart Center, and it's translating to the players on the court. This place holds nearly 16,000, but the top sections are behind a curtain and there are no more than 4,000 people here so far, I would guess.
While that could be considered a plus for UNLV — hostile environments are generally difficult to play in, after all — it could have the opposite effect as it's harder to maintain high energy when few people seem to care about the game. That's a reality UNLV is just going to have to deal with, because it has no excuse to drop this game. The pace picked up in the last few possessions, something the Rebels would like to see continue, and if the Bulldogs continue to show full-court pressure UNLV may get some more transition opportunities.
No one can answer the latter right now, but UNLV coach Dave Rice did offer a little insight into the effects of that gruesome elbow injury on the team’s 2012 leading scorer and rebounder.
“It took its toll on him mentally,” said Rice, who said he didn’t think Moser would be at full health until about June 9 — six months after the injury. “But I think he’s back today to being the positive, energetic guy that we need.”
Rice said that Monday following a particularly lively practice. Right after practice ended Rice sat down with Moser and team trainer Dave Tomchek, Rice said, to thank Moser for acting more like his old self during practice. The Rebels have missed him on the floor, because even when he’s out there it hasn’t been the same. Rice believes that could change now.
“He’s the best psychologically since he’s been back playing games,” Rice said. “There’s no doubt he went through an adjustment period. Certain plays he can’t make that he’s been accustomed to making.”
Moser may even be back in the starting lineup tonight at 6 when UNLV (17-5, 4-3) at Fresno State (7-13, 1-6) on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. His total minutes would still depend on what he does with the opportunity plus his ability to keep himself in the game. After all, Moser was ejected in the first half at Boise State following a flagrant two foul on Anthony Drmic.
That was a surreal moment, said Moser, whose aunt actually left the game because she was so upset with the call. His mother and other family who made the trip from Portland stayed and watched the Rebels fall 77-72.
UNLV lacked plenty of things at various points in that game (see: defense, hitting an open shot in a key situation, defense) but leadership was key among them. That starts with coaching and includes the guys on the floor. Moser was someone Rice could turn to in late-game situations to pump up the team if not take over the game. That’s what Rice hopes he has back more than anything else.
“I just need him to get back to being the leader that he was before he got hurt,” Rice said. “He was such an important part of our team and we need his leadership down the stretch.”
THE OTHER SIDE
Fresno State projected lineup
G — Aaron Anderson, 6-3, Fr, 2.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.3 apg
G — Tyler Johnson, 6-2, Jr, 11.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg
G — Marvelle Harris, 6-4, Fr, 8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg
F — Jerry Brown III, 6-7, Jr, 6.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 spg
F — Kevin Foster, 6-8, Sr, 7.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.8 rpg
Sixth man — G, Allen Huddleston, 6-2, Jr, 9.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.9 apg
Best name: Broderick Newbill, G, 6-5, Fr
Extra storyline: Both schools share an icon in former coach Jerry Tarkanian, to the point that there’s a Tark suite at my hotel. Tark was at UNLV from 1973-92 and then at Fresno from 95-02, taking the Bulldogs to two NCAA Tournaments during that time.
Useless Wikipedia factoid: The school has a main campus and then an additional University Farm, which is nearly three times as large as the main campus and contains student-run chicken, dairy and sheep units, among other things.
Kenpom line: UNLV -8
Vegas line: UNLV -8.5
Bern’s take: I wouldn’t bet on UNLV on the road, but I see the Rebels easily winning this one. They’re motivated and Fresno isn’t very good. The more important question to me is what UNLV does when it comes back home Saturday against New Mexico. UNLV 68, Fresno State 58