Kantowski: Seven Wonders, but only one upset

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UNLV won its second straight game by double figures, beating Colorado State 89 to 70 on Saturday night.

UNLV vs. Colorado State

Tre'Von Willis blows past the Colorado State defense Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels defeated Colorado State 89-70 for their second straight win.  Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

CSU POSTGAME: Not quite like last time

Ryan Greene and Rob 'The Ostrich' Miech discuss UNLV's neat and tidy 89-70 revenge-fueled victory on Saturday night over Colorado State. The guys talk about the Rebels again successfully carrying out the '40 minutes of heck' plan of attack, Tre'Von Willis playing the hero again and take a look ahead to Wednesday's challenge at Wyoming.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Those are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Colossus (of an upset) at Fort Collins.

That is a wonder of the modern world that defies rhyme or reason.

After watching UNLV beat up on the Colorado State's Rams 89-70 at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday night, it's hard to believe the Rebels somehow lost to these guys by two in Moby Arena on Jan. 14.

Fans of corny basketball movies may recall that Moby Arena was where Robby Benson went "One on One" with Annette O'Toole in the motion picture of the same name. The only thing I can figure out is that Tim Miles, the CSU coach, put Henry Steele into the starting lineup under an assumed name.

Or maybe the 71-69 upset never happened. If you recall, that game (like last night's) wasn't broadcast on one of the 24 obscure cable channels that carry Mountain West games. There were only 2,537 spectators in Moby Arena that night. Maybe they all were in on an elaborate conspiracy -- like Capricorn One in the movies. Maybe the Rebels never made that trip. Maybe they were holed up with James Brolin and The Juice on a Hollywood sound stage.

So what was the difference between this game and the one the teams played in Colorado?

Well, for starters, the Rebels (19-6, 7-4 Mountain West) showed up. They didn't pretend they were the Globetrotters in the layup line before the game, like they did last time.

UNLV coach Lon Kruger didn't mention any of that. He said the game had a good flow to it, that the Rebels made a lot of plays for each other, that they took care of the ball and that they made a lot of shots.

This is what he usually says when the Rebels beat somebody by 20. I suppose all of it is true but even if the Rebels didn't do those things, it would be hard to imagine them losing to Colorado State. The Rams are 8-17 and 3-8. They lost to Saint Martin's, which sounds like somewhere you'd take a second honeymoon.

That's why I'm siding with the conspiracy folks. Provided you can find a grassy knoll in Fort Collins, there had to be a second shooter. Or a third. There's no way Marcus Walker could beat the Rebels all by his lonesome.

Walker is the Rams' best player, a real shake-and-bake artist who would be the first guy you'd pick for a shirts vs. skins game at Sunset Park. While I am sure that Colorado State ran some plays on Saturday night, most of the time its offense consisted of A) Walker breaking the press and launching a 3-pointer or B) Walker going one on- however many men the Rebels put on him, which usually was two or three. Walker was 0 for 6 from beyond the arc but still scored 18 points on 9-for-17 shooting, so give him credit for that.

According to the play-by-play sheet, the game was pretty close for about 12 minutes. All I remember is that by halftime it was 51-34 as virtually every time the Rebels tossed the ball at the basket, it went through the basket.

The Rebels made 20 of 31 shots in the first half, including 8 of 11 from beyond the 3-point stripe. That's 65 percent. That was their best half shooting the ball this season.

Or maybe it was Colorado State's worst half of playing defense. It was hard to tell which. I'm leaning toward the latter, because the Rebels finished with 36 points in the paint, which is a lot under any circumstances. It's a double lot considering they play with four guards and Joe Darger, who really is a 6-foot-7 guard in forward's clothing. (Darger can defend big guys at the other end of the court, because he's tougher than he looks, and that's why we call him a forward.)

The most interesting developments in the second half were that boxing promoter Bob Arum and changeup artist nonpareil Greg Maddux almost stayed to the end of the game and that the Rebels once again ran into a team that defends free throws pretty well.

UNLV made just 12 of 22 free throws. It's difficult to comprehend how a team that shoots the 3-ball so well struggles shooting the 1-on-1 ball, so Kruger didn't even try.

"Have to improve that. We've been inconsistent there all year long," he said abruptly.

There was a pregnant pause before the next question -- a Nadya Suleman pause. If it had gotten just a little quieter in the press room you could have heard the clank against the rim.

Poor free-throw shooting aside, the Rebels this week were able to avenge losses to TCU and CSU, and although I never imagined using that word in context with the Frogs and the Rams, that the Rebels were able to do it with only a modicum of difficulty should prevent their fans from lining up at the Hanging Gardens, or taking a flying leap off the Great Pyramid, or otherwise injuring themselves at any of those other ancient wonders mentioned above.

"Good win, and let's move on to the next one," Kruger said, which basically was all that needed to be said about both of these games.

The next one is at Wyoming on Wednesday night, which could be a fairly easy one, too.

But why do I think it's not going to be?

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  1. Great article, Ron. Those twin losses, esp. the CSU one, really were pathetic. And if the Rebs end up in the NIT or bow out in the first round of the Mtn West or NCAA tournament, they only have themselves to blame.

  2. Lenny

    The Rebels would be looking solid were it not for the twins, as you call them. I still think they might be OK with two wins in the tournament (that Arizona win is looking better every day) but they can't afford to turn the twins into triplets with a loss at Wyoming.

  3. Hey, come on! Every ball player in the era loved Robby Benson's ONE ON ONE because it was the first film to expose the dark side of college ball -- and Robby Benson wrote the screenplay at 17 because he kicked butt as a ball handler and shooter. Be COULD jump, and he was a real athlete actor. And Annette O'Toole was gorgeous.