Notebook: Kruger uses different lineup again

Wallace, Shaw make their first starts of the season


Justin M. Bowen

UNLV head coach Lon Kruger calls out a play Tuesday as the Rebels take on Southern Utah at the Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah. UNLV dominated the second half and came out with a 77-59 win.

UNLV vs Southern Utah

Tre'Von Willis came off the bench to lead the Rebels with 16 points and four steals in their 77-59 win over Southern Utah Tuesday night.

UNLV-SUU Basketball

UNLV forward Chace Stanback looks to score against Jake Nielson Tuesday as the Rebels take on Southern Utah at the Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah. UNLV dominated the second half and came out with a 77-59 win.
Launch slideshow »

CEDAR CITY, Utah — Think of UNLV coach Lon Kruger as a mad scientist.

Kruger is going to keep tinkering with combinations until he figures out the perfect solution — for his starting lineup, that is.

Kruger sent out a lineup that was drastically different from any this season in Tuesday’s 77-59 victory against Southern Utah.

For the first time this season, junior guard Tre'Von Willis and sophomore center Brice Massamba started the game on the bench. Junior guard Kendall Wallace and junior forward Matt Shaw took their spots in the lineup.

“We are going to look at a lot of different lineups throughout the year,” Kruger said.

Also, Chace Stanback was back in a starter’s role after coming off of the bench in Saturday’s loss to Kansas State.

Kruger had a simple reasoning for not starting Willis, UNLV’s leading scorer. He said the team could not afford for Willis to pick up two early fouls, as he had in the last three games.

But Kruger said Tuesday’s game did not mean Willis would permanently come off of the bench.

“Not necessarily,” Kruger said. “We just have to make sure he doesn’t pick up two early fouls.”

Kruger also said he was pleased with how Shaw played in a starting role. Shaw played 17 minutes and had eight points and a block, while Massamba logged only seven minutes and one point.

There’s no telling what the starting lineup will be for Thursday’s home game against Weber State. With Kruger, there never is.

Diagnosing the first half woes

The Rebels once again struggled in the first half, before playing much better in the final 20 minutes.

Entering Tuesday’s game, UNLV had trailed at halftime in five of its last seven games. It only led 31-30 against Southern Utah and made a number of careless mistakes in the first half.

No one can pinpoint the exact problem, but Willis has some ideas.

“Maybe it’s a combination of things,” Willis said. “We need to talk more. Second half, we talked more. First half, we don’t talk as much and that takes away a lot of the help you can have.”

Chopping down the Thunderbirds

UNLV pulled away from Southern Utah in large part because of its full-court press defense for stretches of the second half.

A familiar defensive name played a major role in that effort. After appearing for only one minute in UNLV’s last game, Steve “Chop” Jones played 16 minutes and pestered the Thunderbirds.

“He gave us good energy,” Kruger said. “It was good to see his activity, especially when we pressed in the second half.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 9 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. I like Tre coming off the bench. Keeps him out of early foul trouble and he gets to play against some subs. As long as he's cool with it, I think it might work out nicely.

  2. Steve Chop Jones is this team. Please start him and play him the whole game!

  3. Careful what you wish for, Lobo fan!!

    8-0 with Chop playing more than 1 minute a game.

    0-1 with Chop playing 1 minute or less.

    Stick Chop on the Lobos best player defensively and we'll beat you in the Pit and in Vegas!

  4. Where did you come from hobo69? All of the sudden you win some games and you feel the urge to come on message boards and run your mouth about your team? I'm not saying NM isn't good. I picked them to win the conference this year. But your acting like a d-bag. I guess you should enjoy it while you can though, since you won't have any smack to talk after this season since Alford will have jumped ship for a bigger and REAL basketball program.

  5. Don't worry about Chop, lobo fan.

    Worry about how your coach builds in an excuse for his team to lose in the first round of the MWC tournament every year by complaining and crying that it's held in Vegas. Go wipe up Alford's tears before someone slips.

    Your jealousy of the success UNLV Basketball has achieved bleeds through in every one of your posts.

  6. Easy AJ.
    You more than likely have been to more games than this guy has seen. Between Chop and Derrick, there are to guys on the defensive end that can lock someone down and be a pest. Basically something we haven't had since Corey Bailey.

  7. Tre is the worst offender when it comes to playing soft in the first half. He always seems distracted like he doesn't want to be there or is going halfass. Second half he comes out determined and the team follows.

  8. Lenny V

    In defense of Tre if he's playing soft in the first half or going halfass what's that saying about the other players. He's the one doing what it takes to win night after night be it in the first half or the second. No excuses but give these players a break unless you've played a freaking mile in there shoes. Go REBELS !!!!

  9. I'm a huge Tre fan, have been since he got here. He's our best player and we'd be in a lot of trouble in a bunch of games this year without him. All I'm saying is that he could come out of the gates a little faster. He knows that already, we all have things to work on.

    As for walking a mile in these kid's shoes, how about we switch shoes. I've played rugby (and am currently making a comeback), believe me I know all about playing through injuries and toughing it out. There's no tougher sport in the world to play other than the fight game.