Rebels basketball:

UNLV couldn’t keep Colorado State from playing its game in road loss

The Rebels had several problems in Fort Collins, including trying but failing to feed the post, though against the Rams it starts with rebounding

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Colorado State guard Daniel Bejarano grabs a rebound from UNLV guard Justin Hawkins during their game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Moby Arena in Ft. Collins, Colo. Colorado State won the game 66-61.

UNLV vs. Colorado State: Jan. 19, 2013

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall is screened by Colorado State forward Pierce Hornung as guard Dorian Green drives to the basket during their game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Moby Arena in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Launch slideshow »

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The scouting report on Colorado State will change slightly from team to team, but no matter the opponent it always starts with offensive rebounds. It has to, because if you don’t keep the Rams from getting to the glass you’re not going to beat them.

UNLV (15-4, 2-2) actually finished with the same number of offensive rebounds (11) as the Rams (15-3, 2-1) on Saturday evening in Moby Arena. Yet CSU started the game with four points on second-chance points, and when they needed to keep control in a crucial moment, senior Pierce Hornung went up and took the Rebels’ last real chance at victory away from them.

“(We) did a great job on the defensive possession and then we just didn’t get him blocked out,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said.

That wasn’t the only thing that led to UNLV’s 66-61 setback. But in a game the Rebels lost despite CSU making only one shot in the final 7 1/2 minutes, it’s the best place to start.

The Rams came out and did exactly what UNLV couldn’t allow because the Rebels didn’t try hard enough to stop them. Rice pulled Mike Moser, who sat the final 6:30, less than a minute and a half into the game after the second putback, and overall the team was lethargic. On one possession, Anthony Bennett hadn’t even crossed half court by the time Justin Hawkins missed a 3-pointer, and even when the Rebels got the rebound Bennett still never crossed the three-point line.

“There’s no doubt we were tired to start the game,” Rice said. “It’s not an excuse; we need to find a way to win the game.”

Bennett scored five points in the first three minutes and then struggled the rest of the way. He shot 4-for-8 from the field and tied a season low with nine points. Bennett also scored nine Wednesday in San Diego, an indication that Mountain West teams are going to make the Rebels beat them with anyone else.

“They’ve been extremely physical with Anthony and he’s always got two hands on him,” Rice said. “Everyone knows where he is.”

CSU’s Greg Smith, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds, was in charge of containing Bennett much of the night, with Colton Iverson (seven points, 10 rebounds) and Hornung (nine points, six rebounds) crashing on double teams.

“His eight shots for the most part were hard fought,” CSU coach Larry Eustachy said. “He is a great player and we put numerous guys on him.”

As a result UNLV couldn’t get the ball inside so it was senior guard Anthony Marshall who took over on offense. Marshall found a lot of success getting into the lane off high ball screens and finishing at the rim. He scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the second half and finished 9-for-17, which were more attempts than Khem Birch, Bennett and Moser had combined.

That’s obviously not the shot distribution the Rebels want and it came at a cost. Marshall was 7-for-10 in the second half but he also had two turnovers in the final 7:15, missed a couple of free throws with the game tied and three of his four fouls led to six points at the free-throw line.

Every foul called on UNLV in the second half was damaging, because after missing its second free throw attempt of the second half, CSU went 15-for-15 the rest of the way, including all of the points in the decisive 10-2 run in the final 3:23. That run started on Dorian Green’s free throws after Marshall’s fourth foul, a call that seemed to take away some of his aggressiveness in trying to get into the lane.

The final two minutes went like this: Trailing by three, Birch gave the Rebels the ball by pinning a shot against the rim and grabbing it in the same motion. Out of a timeout Marshall then passed to Bryce Dejean-Jones on the wing and while driving to the lane he was called for pushing off. That left UNLV down three with 1:03 to play.

The Rebels could have had another chance because Green, who finished with a game-high 24 points, missed a 3-pointer with about 40 seconds remaining. But just as UNLV didn’t box out at the beginning, Hornung beat the Rebels to the ball and held onto it, forcing fouls and effectively ending the game.

“Once you block him out you’ve got to block him out two or three more times,” Marshall said. “That’s what happened on that last possession; we did a pretty good job on our initial block and then he just kept moving.”

Marshall said no team in the Mountain West had a tougher two weeks than the Rebels, and with games at New Mexico, San Diego State, Colorado State and home against Air Force it’s hard to argue the point. Getting out of that stretch at 2-2 should have always been considered adequate, if not positive, given the league’s overall difficulty.

While the Rebels were battling at CSU, San Diego State scored just nine points at halftime at Wyoming and went on to lose. It’s likely the regular season league champion will have at least three losses, if not four. So this isn’t doomsday for the Rebels, who host Wyoming on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

That doesn’t make them feel any better about letting another close game get away though. Rice doesn’t like to put too much emphasis on the plays made or not made strictly at the end of games, because things like the Rebels’ nearly seven-minute scoring drought in the first half are a big factor, too.

There were many things UNLV wanted to do but didn’t against Colorado State.

“I told the team whoever wins the rebounds wins this game,” Eustachy said, “and we got two more rebounds than them.”

That’s not the whole story, but it’s the best place to finish.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. A game the rebels should win if they play smart. They don't. Make simple passes.....take the shot when u have it..don't force it...draw the fouls when u can.

  2. Bennett must be sick. Too bad cuz the scouts must be sick over the way he plays defense...like a wuss.....while his feet are set in stone......a crafty big guy all bu smokes Bennett.....

  3. Comment removed by moderator. Profanity.

  4. Only 6 assists for a team who was TOP 5 IN ASSISTS IN THE COUNTRY coming into tonight. Selfish play. BDJ making some selfish bad plays in back to back possessions at the end of the game. Moser, Bennett, and even QT did almost nothing to make their offensive post presence felt.

    Bennett looks L-A-Z-Y. I remember one possession where BDJ was on the right side, tried to drive and got stuck. Bennett (the only player he had any angle to pass to) just stood at the top of the key not moving or trying to break free from his man to help for a good 4 seconds until someone else had to come from the opposite end of the court to help. What a shame... I really want to like the kid. Clearly he has talent, but I can't respect someone with his kind of poor work ethic.

    Rice isn't a bad coach but I think his "everyone has a green light" mentality really hurts such a young team who can't figure out when to pass and when to shoot. Reinhardt has made headway, but BDJ still can't figure it out.

    And can we please stop shooting transition 3's?

  5. SOFT is my word of the day! Mentally and physically! Also Taylor your article appears to blame Marshall for the loss referencing his missed free throws and two turnovers in the last 6 minutes, while its true that hurt. However, if he doesn't play his heart out they get blown out. He's the only kid with heart nd consistent effort. MJD is a chucker and moser gives them nothing on o or d he constantly gets abused off the dribble. Plus once again we have no half court o and Bennett needs to grow up quickly. Seriously disappointing after the sdsu game.

  6. BDJ: single handedly lost us the game, lowest basketball IQ since Beas Hamga, lacks common sense, a charging bull that runs a fast break all by himself when he's the only player and double teamed and turns the ball over immediately, erratic, poor decision after disgusting decision, poor shot after poor shot. He's what we don't need on the team. That's exactly why Marshall scored the last 20 something pts in the end of the game because there's a difference between ball hogging and scoring vs ball hogging and turning the ball over.

    BDJ thinks he's Kobe Bryant. He's one of the worst ball hoggers I've seen since Jerel/Romel.....why did a USC transfer with a mentality of a welfare baller have to come to UNLV. Sucks. Let us pray he transfers to a team that loves "individualism" because I knew from day 1, since Canada, that he would be an absolute ball hogging headache. Gotta get him off the team immediately.

  7. Coach leaving him in the game for so long was a major issue. Anyone notice that unlvs offense picked up when he was off the court? Probably +7. When he was on, we were -11 I bet. Disgusting player.

    After seeing how perfectly coached Louisville, butler, duke, Florida, etc teams are....why even both watching this rubbish when they probably can't even win 1 NCAA tourney game? Over it. They can win their next four games and STILL won't be close to being ranked. Doesn't matter anymore.

  8. Rebels have not won a Conference Championship recently. Rebels have not been to the Sweet 16 since Lon Kruger and yet have more potential NBA talent than what Lon had. There is so much hype that the players must be reading their own press clippings or a Channel 8 Sports Cast.

    A Point Guard who can handle the basketball and not take wild shots going 1 on 4 on offense. Where is the discipline? There are plenty of players who will shoot the ball, the team needs guys willing to do the little things well - like rebound, handle the ball or play defense. Their role simply put. New Mexico has players that play their role and not every starter on this team will be an NBA #1 pick. It starts at point guard with leadership who can be a floor leader.

    Win the Conference Tourney on their home floor.
    Win to get into the Sweet 16.
    Until then, the team is just talk. Favored by 20 against Cal Bakersfield - they dont cover. Beat Air Force by double digits at home - no can not do this either.
    Earn the role of world beaters which this team is not ready for and the town believes that they should be already. Lets lower expectations of this team - Miami would be #1 if they were in Vegas they beat North Carolina on the road at least. Rebels are not there yet, some potentially great players - not yet a potentially great team. If it was Rebel Football we would say their results are for an OK team under performing. That is how this basketball team should be viewed.

  9. lenny v, just wanted to say before your comment gets removed......bravo.

  10. Listen, this season is far from over. Given this team a chance, it has proven it can do it (see last game).

  11. It was BJD's man who got that last important rebound. I went back and watched it again. The shot goes up, BJD just turns around to watch. Hornung runs right past him for the rebound. There wasn't even an attemt to block out.

    What bothers me is Rice doesn't sit this kid down. That one fast break was 1 on 3 before he got the ball stolen. If I was the coach, he'd immediately comes out. He forces a shot, bam, out of the game. I would do this until he learns.

    BJD wasn't the only person taking bad shots last night. Uncharacteristicly, JHawk and Thomas also fired up some bad ones. Its hard to win on the road against good teams without discipline.

    By the way, I believe Bennett has asthma and it could be what is bothering him.

  12. Bennett's effort level on defense is horrid....as well as rebound...ever notice he jumps justttttt high enough to get rebound? Instead of removing all doubt. Ah crafty division 3 big man runs right around Bennett for layup after layup. Move your feet big fella...this ain't high school.

  13. Ben has the tools...just not the iq right now.......always trying to make the circus shot instead of drawing the foul.......if Bryce was a Better passer, it would get easier for him to score......right now the defense knows what's coming every time.......