Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 | 6 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 | 9:02 p.m.
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UNLV 74, Chicago State 52
Anthony Bennett led the Rebels with 22 points and 11 rebounds, Khem Birch finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, and UNLV eventually pulled away from Chicago State for a 74-52 victory Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels move to 12-2 heading into their final nonconference game at home Saturday at 7 against Cal State Bakersfield.
UNLV had an 18-point lead at halftime and then allowed the Cougars to get within 11. The main culprit was Chicago State's zone defense, which eventually enticed the Rebels to shoot a plethora of 3s rather than pound the ball inside. The Rebels were 3-for-12 behind the three-point line in the second half.
Conversely, the Rebels dominated the interior with Bennett, Birch and Carlos Lopez-Sosa (11 points) playing well on offense and controlling the glass. UNLV finished ahead in rebounding by more than 20.
Katin Reinhardt scored 12 points and Daquan Cook looked decent in his 10 minutes on the court, but overall the guards' play will remembered for the turnovers. Bryce Dejean-Jones committed five, Anthony Marshall had three and Reinhardt two. Of course, the bigs weren't much better, with Bennett committing four.
Overall it was a sloppy game that UNLV is happy to have in the rearview. Mike Moser is a game-by-game decision, so we may find out tomorrow whether he'll be available for Saturday.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight's game.
UNLV 58, Chicago State 42
7:44 remaining in the second half
UNLV hasn't done anything to put this game away. In fact, its zone offense, which mostly consists of taking 3s, has given Chicago State a little bit of life down the stretch. The Cougars were as close as 11 with 10 minutes to play.
After shooting a respectable 2-for-6 behind the three-point line in the first half, the Rebels have for stretches ignored the post and started throwing up every look they get beyond the arc. They are 3-for-11 in the second half.
When they do go inside, things are working great for UNLV. Bennett and Birch are drawing fouls and they are dominating the offensive glass. They have a clear advantage, but for much of the second half the Rebels have ignored it.
UNLV 44, Chicago State 30
15:38 remaining in the second half
UNLV's goal in the first four minutes of the second half should be to build its lead, or at least maintain it. In that regard the Rebels have falling short, allowing Chicago State to cause a little havoc on defense and trim the lead to 14.
It's not like this is a game-changing stretch, but it's just not what you want to do against an opponent, especially one you're clearly better than. The same way the Rebels don't want to have 15 turnovers already to their credit, they would like to assert their superior skill more.
UNLV 39, Chicago State 21
The Rebels are using their size advantage well, with Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch leading the team with 11 and nine points, respectively. UNLV had a lot of turnovers out of the gate and while it didn't completely reel that in, the Rebels balanced it with 11 assists on 14 made shots.
They're also dominating inside with a 23-8 advantage on the boards. At the free-throw line, a problem down the stretch at UNC, the Rebels are 9-for-11, and they're shooting 58.3 percent overall.
This game should be completely over with a solid start to the second half. Of course, that's a constant problem for UNLV, so we'll see how they come out of the break. Although it won't happen, I'd like to see Daquan Cook starting the second half running the point. He was good in six minutes in the first half, and his production is the only real intrigue tonight.
Even that may be overstating it, though. Chicago State is shooting 31 percent from the floor and most of UNLV's turnovers are its own fault, not the result of the Cougars' pressure.
This is a tuneup game in every sense of the term. The outcome was known before the game, so the only thing left to figure out is the final score. It would be a positive step, though, for the Rebels to bury the Cougars early in the second half and never look back.
UNLV 29, Chicago State 16
5:52 remaining in the first half
Daquan Cook is getting early minutes against Chicago State and he's by far the most interesting thing about this game for UNLV.
Since Mike Moser is sitting out tonight to rest his elbow, the Rebels can't work on carving out the rotation that they'll use throughout conference season starting next week. Instead they're playing an overmatched opponent, the first of two in a row, and just trying to run their sets and do something positive at both ends.
In that regard they're definitely heading in the right direction. After a sloppy start the Rebels have opened a nice lead with Cook running the offense. He and Carlos Lopez-Sosa were the catalysts for the drive, a stretch that gave UNLV the lead it will now try to build on before halftime.
UNLV 10, Chicago State 7
15:17 remaining in the first half
There have already been more bad passes by both teams in tonight than you're likely to see in most games. A sloppy start isn't all that surprising considering UNLV has to get up for a lesser opponent and Chicago State just isn't all that good, but it's still disappointing to see because nobody likes to watch bad basketball.
The Rebels have started to pull out of that funk, though, and with them the Cougars are finding some holes in UNLV's and knocking down a few shots. Hopefully this trend continues and we see some up-and-down action before the Rebels inevitably pull away.
Enjoy the mismatch now because soon enough this will no longer be the case.
Tonight at 7, UNLV (11-2) hosts Chicago State (4-12) on VegasTV. It’s the second to last nonconference game for the Rebels, who are favored by more than 30 points.
Much like the La Verne game last month, UNLV is vastly superior at every position, though to their credit the Cougars are coming off a victory at Toledo. Just before that they lost by 43 at Ohio State, and they also have big losses to lesser home teams like Houston, Valparaiso and Tulane.
Put simply, the Rebels should easily win big. There’s not much to learn in games like this; it’s merely an opportunity to run some sets, both offensive and defensive, against people who aren’t used to seeing them every day in practice. It’s a chance for fans to see Anthony Bennett dunk and then flex, and to see the “extend three fingers and swing them towards the ground while running” celebration that’s become popular with UNLV’s guards.
This could have been a chance for UNLV coach Dave Rice to work with a full roster for just the second time this season, but junior forward Mike Moser will not play. Playing for the first time since dislocating his right elbow on Dec. 9, Moser was on the court for 12 minutes against North Carolina last weekend. While he wasn’t terrible, Moser clearly wasn’t himself and Rice wanted to give him more time to rest before putting him back in a game. There hasn’t been a setback in his recovery, however, and Moser practiced both days the Rebels were on the court.
Without him in the lineup the Rebels can’t begin to work on the rotation and assignments that will eventually dictate how good they can be this season. Instead they’re in a holding pattern, including Quintrell Thomas still starting but sophomore Khem Birch likely to take most of the minutes at center.
So enjoy this romp tonight. Next week conference play begins and life gets much tougher for the Rebels.
THE OTHER SIDE
Chicago State projected lineup
G — Corey Gray, 5-11, Jr, 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
G — Jamere Dismukes, 6-1, Jr, 8.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.6 apg
G — Quinton Pippen, 6-4, Jr, 9.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg
F — Jeremy Robinson, 6-2, Sr, 9.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 apg
F — Matt Ross, 6-8, Jr, 9.3 ppg, 7 rpg, 0.9 apg
Sixth man — G, Clarke Rosenberg, 6-3, So, 8.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.4 spg
Best name: Quincy Ukaigwe (You-kahg-wee), C, 6-9, Sr
Extra storyline: Chicago State (4-12) has already matched its win total from last season.
Useless Wikipedia factoid: Kanye West is listed as a notable former student.
Kenpom line: UNLV -30
Vegas line: UNLV -31
Bern’s take: This one should be over quickly. UNLV 92, Chicago State 60