Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 | 5 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 | 8:11 p.m.
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UNLV 62, Wyoming 50
Quintrell Thomas scored 13 points off the bench and UNLV pulled away from Wyoming in the second half for a 62-50 victory Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Anthony Bennett led the Rebels with 17 points while Anthony Marshall finished with 12 points, 10 of them coming in the first half. UNLV dominated on the boards, finishing with a 14-rebound advantage in that category.
Marshall also had nine of UNLV's 17 assists on 21 made baskets. The Rebels shot 48.8 percent from the floor while Wyoming failed to keep pace with 41.7 percent.
With the exception of 15 turnovers, the Rebels' numbers really looked good across the board. It felt that way throughout the game, too. UNLV only dominated for certain stretches but it was the better team almost from the start. As soon as the Rebels tied the game about six minutes into it they controlled the pace from there.
UNLV moves to 16-4 overall and 3-2 in Mountain West play. They stay home and host UNR next Tuesday, making this the only game in a nine-day stretch.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' victory.
UNLV 55, Wyoming 44
7:56 remaining in the second half
Wyoming has played only two guys off the bench. Meanwhile, it's two guys from that spot who are really shining for UNLV — Quintrell Thomas and Daquan Cook.
Thomas has 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting plus three rebounds in 15 minutes. He's been so good that Khem Birch has barely seen the floor in the second half.
Meanwhile, Cook is playing the most meaningful minutes of his career, logging eight minutes spread across both halves. And he's been solid. In eight minutes Cook has one rebound and two assists, but more than that he was running the offense competently for longer stretches than he has before against this caliber of team. For a guy who never knows how much he's going to play in a night, that's big.
UNLV 38, Wyoming 31
15:03 remaining in the second half
Leonard Washington hasn't stopped taking 3s, he's now 1-for-6, but not everything's the same as the first half. Anthony Bennett has come alive on offense. It's not just shooting, though. Bennett drew a double team and then made a nice pass to a wide open Quintrell Thomas for an easy basket.
As teams continue to double Bennett, it will become more and more important how well he can pass out of the post and away from pressure. This is a good sign, as are his two baskets so far in the second half.
Overall the Rebels' ball movement has been great in the early minutes of the second half. Whether they hit the shots or not is another question, but they're setting up good opportunities. That's what matters more.
UNLV 28, Wyoming 22
1:58 remaining in the first half
Justin Hawkins is making life very difficult for Wyoming's guards so far, giving the Cowboys very little space to operate. Also making life difficult for Wyoming is Cowboys forward Leonard Washington, who is 1-for-5 on 3-point attempts.
Washington is pulling the trigger on everything he sees that's even remotely open, which is obviously not what Wyoming wants or needs in order to stay in this game. Front court partner Larry Nance Jr is doing a nice job so far, shooting 5-for-7, and all of his shots have come inside the arc.
Washington is far better when he's physical in the paint. When he's in the mood to shoot jumpers, there's no sense in UNLV even guarding him.
UNLV 12, Wyoming 12
10:57 remaining in the first half
UNLV took Wyoming's initial punch and has come back with points in the paint and an Anthony Marshall 3-pointer that had the senior glaring and getting into Derrious Gilmore's face afterward. The Rebels have a lot more confidence on this court, and they're showing it.
Anthony Bennett is 1-for-3 early, and it's interesting to note that UNLV scored close to the basket once he left the game. It was Quintrell Thomas doing work in the paint that led to some easy points. The Rebels will take them however they can get them, but eventually they would like to see Bennett get into some kind of rhythm again.
More than most games, this one is hard to get a read on going into it.
On the one hand there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Wyoming (15-2, 2-2) can hold its own in the Thomas & Mack Center tonight at 6:15 on CBS Sports Network. On the other, the Cowboys seem lost offensively without Luke Martinez and their defense probably won’t hold up on the road against the Rebels (15-4, 2-2).
Martinez, who’s suspended indefinitely after being charged for his involvement in a bar fight, provided an outside counter that prevented defenses from collapsing down on post players Larry Nance Jr. and Leonard Washington. Without him in the lineup it’s been more difficult to get open shots down low because the defense is less concerned about getting beat from the outside.
That doesn’t mean Nance and Washington have been completely neutralized. In fact, they’re coming off their best combined game of the conference season, teaming for 25 points and 26 rebounds in a 58-45 victory against No. 15 San Diego State. That’s the game that caught people’s attention mostly for the Aztecs’ halftime point total: nine. Thing is, the Cowboys only had 20 because they shot 32 percent. A 10-for-17 performance in the second half kept SDSU at bay but this game isn’t in Laramie, Wyo., like that one was.
Air Force took UNLV to overtime in its only other home league game this year, so that plus coming off a loss should be enough to get the Rebels to take this seriously. That plus the advantage of home foul calls and the chance for Anthony Bennett to get rolling again in front of a supportive crowd are reasons this one could get out of hand.
It’s tough to figure out just where Wyoming stands. Tonight may not be a great indicator because few teams come to the Mack and have success. If the Cowboys do that, then maybe we’ll have an answer.
THE OTHER SIDE
Wyoming projected lineup
G — Derrious Gilmore, 5-10, Sr, 11.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.6 apg
G — Josh Adams, 6-2, Fr, 6.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.6 apg
G — Riley Grabau, 6-2, So, 6.3 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
F — Larry Nance Jr, 6-8, So, 10.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.7 bpg
F — Leonard Washington, 6-7, Sr, 14.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2 bpg
Sixth man — F, Derek Cooke Jr, 6-9, So, 2.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.3 bpg
Best name: Charles Hankerson Jr (Chuck Hank), G, 6-5, Jr
Extra storyline: UNLV assistant coach Heath Schroyer recruited several current Cowboys, including Washington and Martinez.
Useless Wikipedia factoid: Notable alumni include Vice President Dick Cheney and Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kenpom line: UNLV -3
Vegas line: UNLV -9
Bern’s take: This is by far the biggest difference in the line available in town and the projection at kenpom.com. I’m chalking that up to a difference in how people vs. a computer program think Wyoming plays without Martinez. UNLV 68, Wyoming 60