Published Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 | 6 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 | 9 p.m.
UNLV 70, San Jose State 46
A pair of Rebels scored 13 points, Roscoe Smith registered his 14th double-double and the Rebels never trailed in an easy 70-46 victory tonight at San Jose State.
Deville Smith hit two 3-pointers early in the game and was one of the players to lead UNLV in scoring with 13. The other was Bryce Dejean-Jones, who shot 4-of-6, and Roscoe Smith finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. The Rebels shot 44.7 percent from the field for the game while holding San Jose State to 28.8 percent.
The Spartans were simply never in the game. They finished 3-for-21 behind the three-point line, and without making 3s San Jose State doesn't have much chance. The Spartans committed only five turnovers, which had been another problem of theirs, but in the end they weren't ever close to grabbing their first ever Mountain West victory.
San Jose State falls to 6-15 overall and 0-9 in league play while the Rebels are 14-7 overall and 5-3 in league. This is a good confidence builder for UNLV, which returns home Saturday for a 5 p.m. tip against Boise State.
Check lasvegassun.com for a full report from the Rebels' victory.
In the past couple of seasons at UNLV, even the seemingly easy road games have proved treacherous. They were all land mines waiting for the right amount of pressure.
This year, surprisingly, that role has been reversed with home games tripping up UNLV (8-5 record this season) and the road trips going relatively well (3-2). Still, there’s going to be concern anytime the Rebels leave town.
Today is probably the best example in the Dave Rice era of a conference road game that should be — should be — no problem for the Rebels. Seeing that come to fruition is UNLV’s challenge tonight as it takes on San Jose State (6-14, 0-8) at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
The Spartans are the definition of “Live by the 3, die by the 3” and as I wrote earlier today they mostly die by it. While San Jose State is a little better than average from behind the three-point line (35.8 percent) it can’t do much else. The Spartans are one of the 15 worst-shooting teams inside the arc, they have more turnovers than assists while failing to create turnovers at the other end and their production has dipped across the board in Mountain West play.
Their reliance on the 3 will keep them in games if they hit a few of them early, but at that point they’re like the sprinting dog who finally caught a rabbit because they don’t know what to do with it. Give them a year or two and this San Jose State squad could be really good — it starts three freshmen with three more, including Bishop Gorman grad Rashad Muhammad, playing roles off the bench — but until then they’re the easiest game any Mountain West opponent is going to find on the schedule.
We all understand that and I’m sure a lot of you agree with me. Some of the Rebels probably do, too. The key is for them not to play that way.
UNLV is minus-8.5 at most places in town. The Rebels have played one league road game as an 8.5-point favorite in each of the past two seasons, and both times they lost the game straight up.
You and I can talk frankly about this San Jose State team. The Rebels, who are trying to climb out of the league’s middle, should treat them like San Diego State.
Bern’s prediction: For the reasons discussed above, I still have a hard time guessing what UNLV is going to do away from home. The last road trip played out pretty close to script for me, but those games are different. When it’s not a major rival I question UNLV’s focus and coming off that narrow overtime victory against Fresno State I need to see the Rebels bury San Jose State before believing it. UNLV 68, San Jose State 63