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Bellfield tolls again for UNLV in 76-71 win over Louisville

Sophomore’s 8 points in late three-minute flurry rallies Rebels, who lost a 19-point lead


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV players Derrick Jasper, left, Brice Massamba, center, and Kendall Wallace celebrate after upsetting 16th-ranked Louisville Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels won the game 76-71.

No. 16 Louisville vs. UNLV

Despite losing a 19-point lead, UNLV held on to beat sixteenth-ranked Louisville 76-71 Saturday.

UNLV-Louisville Basketball

UNLV forward Brice Massamba and the rest of the Rebels celebrate their 76-71 upset of 16th-ranked Louisville Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

POSTGAME EDITION: Rebels produce winners across the board on busy day

Ryan Greene, Christine Killimayer and Ray Brewer discuss a busy day in UNLV athletics, including the hoops squad's resounding 76-71 victory over No. 16 Louisville at the Mack and the football team's sendoff to coach Mike Sanford and its 16 seniors coming in the form of a 28-24 come-from-behind victory at home over San Diego State.

As he did on New Year’s Eve in Kentucky, UNLV guard Oscar Bellfield again rose to the occasion against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.

Before a national cable television audience and a rabid Thomas & Mack Center crowd, the Rebels had frittered away all of a 19-point lead when Bellfield came to their rescue and steered UNLV to a 76-71 victory.

With less than four minutes remaining, he produced a runner in traffic in the lane and a pair of free throws, and then he nearly duplicated his game-winning feat on New Year’s Eve.

In that one, the 6-foot-2 Bellfield executed a power drive to the right and sank a banker over 6-9 Samardo Samuels in the game’s final seconds.

Saturday, with the shot clock dwindling down from five seconds, to four, to three, Bellfield again drove right on Samuels and converted a high archer over the Jamaican’s long arms with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left.

It gave UNLV a 70-66 lead and invaluable breathing room.

“Just a little bit,” Bellfield said when asked if he flashed back to the final night of 2008. “It’s not quite how I planned it, but it worked out well. It was awkward, with the shot clock running down. I had to get it off and, I mean, he was kinda close to blocking it.

“But I got it off.”

Did Bellfield, who had a team-best 17 points, think Samuels has seen enough of him?

“No, I’m sure he’ll brush it off,” Bellfield said, “and be ready for their next opponent.”

Louisville senior Edgar Sosa, a 6-2 guard from New York who led everyone with 18 points, said Bellfield is a good player and he had a good game.

“I think the game wasn’t decided because of that,” Sosa said. “He did hit a big shot, but we had a chance to play well ourselves and win the ball game with the decisions we made. We just made bad decisions at the end.”

The 16th-ranked Cardinals lost for the first time in five games, while UNLV (5-0) stayed perfect before its Wednesday night matchup against Arizona (3-2) in Tucson.

“That was a good win,” said UNLV junior guard Tre'Von Willis. “Louisville is a tough team. It showed character on our part when they tied it late and we widened the margin back out and kind of cruised from there.

“It definitely showed how much guts that locker room has on our side.”

For 26 minutes, the Rebels were playing precision Lon Kruger basketball.

They were winning the battle on the boards. They were making more than half of their shots, and the Cardinals were hitting less than 40 percent, and UNLV was sharing the ball to Kruger’s delight.

To that point, UNLV had 18 assists. Louisville had five. The Rebels led, 53-34, when Willis converted a three-point play with 14:05 left.

“It wasn’t a shock,” Willis said. “We know what we’re capable of. Even though we were up 19, we wanted to widen the margin. We were telling each other to play like it’s zero-zero. Give them credit. They came back. They fought.

“Luckily, we hung in there.”

UNLV reserve center Darris Santee was dunking and scoring inside and hitting soft jumpers, and starting point guard Derrick Jasper had a couple of powerful alley-oop dunks.

“I just knew we had to finish the game strong,” said Santee, who had 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting. “We worked too hard to lose the game. This is the guy I need to be, this is the guy I know I can be. I have to do this every game.”

Except for beyond the 3-point arc, Willis had a strong game with 16 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and a steal in 32 minutes.

He shot 4-for-6 inside the 3-point line. Outside it, he was 1-for-7. His teammates followed suit by missing 11 of their 15 long-range attempts.

Ahead by 19, the Rebels left the door open for the Cardinals when they started missing those bombs. Walk-on senior guard Steve “Chop” Jones missed one, then junior guard Kendall Wallace, then reserve center Matt Shaw.

Then Shaw missed a layup; Wallace missed another from long distance. Bellfield missed a 3-pointer. Chop missed another. The Rebels seemed intent on settling for bad shots.

Louisville crept all the way back, for a 62-62 tie, when Sosa drilled a 3-pointer with 5:29 left.

“We just played harder defense,” Sosa said. “We showed our will on the defensive end. We pressured them into making mistakes like they did to us to get out to that big lead. We just didn’t have enough in the tank.

“We didn’t run out of fuel … I think we’re one of the best-conditioned teams in America. When you battle from such a deficit … we just didn’t communicate on the offensive end to bring us up a notch. It’s a learning experience and a long season.”

After Bellfield made two free throws, Rakeem Buckles, a freshman forward from Miami, sailed in for a layup to again tie it, at 64-64, for Louisville.

But Bellfield kicked his game up a notch during a rough stretch in which UNLV had tallied only three field goals in nearly 10 minutes.

The crowd of 14,390 responded, like it did all game long when the Rebels were either pouring it on the Cardinals or trying to hang on, like it was a rock concert.

Bellfield took a feed from Jasper and beat the shot clock with his 12-footer in the lane with 3:48 left.

Jerry Smith missed a 3-point shot, against Bellfield, and Jasper grabbed the rebound.

Bellfield, who had missed two free throws with about 5 minutes left after nearly getting decapitated by Cards freshman Peyton Siva on a strong drive, sank both freebies for a 68-64 lead.

After getting fouled by UNLV freshman guard Anthony Marshall, Reginald Delk canned two free throws to get Louisville within 68-66.

Then Bellfield again took it to Samuels with the shot clock evaporating. Bellfield’s eight points in three minutes rejuvenated the Rebels.

“That’s what we need out of Oscar,” Willis said. “He made some crucial plays. He stepped up and hit some free throws. He was just big for us all night. It’s definitely tough to guard me, Oscar and Derrick on the perimeter.”

Toss in rookies Marshall and Justin Hawkins, and Wallace, and, according to Willis, UNLV has a difficult group of guards to, well, guard.

“Our guards are very tough,” Willis said. “We just try to make plays for each other and try to be aggressive, and try to get results.”

For a second consecutive season, that’s just what Oscar Bellfield did Saturday afternoon against Louisville.

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  1. Underlying this spectacular performance was the killer instinct the rebels played with. You saw it in their eyes and their faces; the rebels wanted this win more than any win in their lives. It is this tenacity and spirit that will push them in March. Last year the team lacked it and we all saw what happened. If they can go out with this attitude each and every game we will definitely see the rebs in the top 25 this season!

  2. Only 14,390 fans showed up today? Come on Vegas, where is our support for a team facing a ranked opponent who with a win now looks to be in the top 25? Also, I was a bit surprised to see the students rush the court after the game. Yes it was a great win (again against a ranked opponent), but I think it sends the wrong message to our players that we as fans were surpised by the win. Our guys showed today that we are a top-25 caliber team, and we should not be shocked after winning big games anymore. Unless it is the conference championship game or against a top 5 opponent, we should no longer be rushing the court! I believe we are a legit team this year--the players are acting like it and playing like it, now we as fans need to show that we believe it as well. Go Rebels!

  3. Okay so I did my nitpicking post, now here is some due praise for our guys. Despite the comeback by Louisville in the 2nd half, we played an outstanding game. I think our center-by-committee approach is working great. Good to see Darris have such a great game today. Our energy was excellent and the defensive intensity was great. While it got scary seeing our 19 point lead dwindle away, you had to expect Louisville to fight back--they are a great team with a fine coach. Letting them pull even was a bit much, but we still showed great resiliency in finishing strong and never letting them turn the tide completely by taking the lead. I love how deep we are and that (at least from what I can tell) all the guys are really approaching the season with a team first attitude. Playing 10 or 11 deep can be tricky, especially if players are concerned about their own individual minutes. So far it is looking like a huge advantage though with a group of guys who have one common shared goal. Today's game was of course spectacular, but I was also really impressed with how we played against HC on Wednesday, in that we did not look past them to today. Now let's just hope there is no let down after today's big win--the first road game is always a test, and a win against Arizona would be another feather in our cap. Congrats Rebels, and keep it up! Reeeeeeeeebels!

  4. Great game. Great win. Oscar "The Cardinal Killer" Bellfield strikes again. Go Rebels!

  5. Although I'm a bit perplexed & upset about my DirecTV situation & not getting Versus, I did my best online & through ESPN Radio to get what I could out of this game. It was tough & I'm frustrated. All that aside, seeing the Rebs up 19 then the Cards closing to within 4, I never faltered hope. There is something special about this club. I don't know how far they'll get this year but you add Polee & Joseph to the lineup next year, 1989 doesn't seem that long ago. I'm just sayin'...

    Did we just beat another Top 20 team?

    Reeeeeeeeebels! Reeeeeeeebels!

  6. Only 14,300? For a day game on a holiday weekend? That's a solid turnout. The last time a quality OOC opponent came for a Saturday day game was U of A last year. Attendance was 16,700, but at least 4,000 were U of A fans in town for the Las Vegas Bowl.

    With about 100 Louisville fans in town, that means we improved on last year by 1,500. Not too bad in an ever worsening economy.

  7. Rushing the court and the "overrated" chant was the only negative things i can take out of the game..although we let them back in, we kept composed and did what we needed to do to get the W.

  8. Sufferin'Suckotash...awfully quiet tonight. Let's keep it that way...go Rebs!

  9. IF the Rebels lose a game...Sufferin Succotash will be out in full force... but for now, he is sittin in the corner, in the fetal position, sucking his thumb

  10. I had to work today, otherwise I WOULD NOT HAVE MISSED the game for the world! I had my girl DVR it for me... But I did miss THE LAST 4 MINS! I was losing it. The combination of the Rebs losing their double-digit lead and not getting to see how it would end drove me nuts. Turns out it didn't record the whole game, just the 2 hour time frame. FML man.

    Anyway, this game (well the first 25 mins or so and the last 2 or so mins from what i read) is exactly what we need to do night in and night out. Bring on the Cats! Unfortunately, I have to record that game too, damn work. I heard it will be on FSN, Rob does that include the one we get here in Vegas? Thanks again for the great coverage! REEEEEEBBBBBEEEEEELLLLLLS!!!

  11. Oh, one more thing. Did Ricky P man up and shake Lon's hand this year, or did he run off like a toddler with a tantrum? ;P

  12. jersey, he shook Lon's hand... for the most part, he was pretty subdued ... then his Cards started coming back and he got into it ... nearly a rousing comeback by looovulll

  13. If your favorite basketball team tries to give away an easy victory and you lose years off of your life, you might be a Rebneck.

  14. If the officials see stuff that actually never happened and try to keep the score close, you might be a Rebneck.

  15. The UNLV vs. Arizona game is on channel 332 for those who have Cox Digital Cable.

    Rob, where have the Rebel Room podcasts been lately!? You guys usually have 3-4 a week, and there hasn't been one since the SIU game! I am sure you are working on other things, just letting you know I really love the podcasts and have missed them this past week..(definitely not criticizing your work, it is great)

    Go Rebels!

  16. For all the wonderful things the student section did for this game, including making Mr. Dwayne Polee feel welcomed and at home, they can chant and storm ALL THEY WANT TO..

  17. Great game Rebels! Don't let up, we can beat Arizona. Also great job from the fans today, the T&M was alive...gave me chills. How GOOD is Jasper?

  18. we used to overstate our attendance, I think we understated them. There had to be 16k - 17k there. there was a barely a seat left in the house. The attendance was very good from what I saw.

  19. Okay I said I would and I am going to do it. Apologies to Darris Santee. He was terrific. I finally saw some of those powerful dunks I heard about. He may not be very skilled but he played with passion and grit. He was flying to the rim and playing hard nosed. I was very impressed. I thought we would be in trouble underneath against Samuels, Buckles and Jennings but our three held their own. If they can duplicate this performance we will be okay. Way to go Darris. Happy to admit I was wrong. Great Frickin Game! Runnin' Rebels!

  20. big credit goes to the student section for going to Polee, and having him sit (or should i say stand) with them! that is exactly the kind of hospitality we needed to show him, and what a perfect game to do so! i just am not thrilled with "overrated" chant since you are basically saying, louisville isnt as good as advertised. well, maybe they are good, but we are just better? but I can live with any chant they want, as they get a LOT of credit for being the 6th man out there yesterday!

  21. I like the switch at point. Note to the fans; don't chant "overrated" when your only up by 7. If you are going to say that the other team is overrated, then don't storm the court.

  22. I got to give credit were credit is due. I've been hard on our bigs. Great job Santee, Shaw, and Massamba. Enjoy the victory, and go get focused on Arizona.

  23. I dont think there is no disrespect for Louisville just because fans went out to the court to celebrate. we ought to do that in every game. Give everyone of them credit and support them, they deserve it. ESPN is watching about the fans in Vegas. GO REBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. I said it a couple of days ago. And it has happened once again. Last year when we beat 'em Sufferin' disapeared. And once again..... Although I do think that BOB12345 guy is him. Great win for the boys. Between coming back from 12 down and having a 25 point swing in 14 minutes against Reno, and this hold off victory I can say I like what our team has going on between the ears. Tough kids man. We are going to win a lot of games this year on our fortitude alone.

  25. Me says: "Only 14,300? For a day game on a holiday weekend? That's a solid turnout. [...] Not too bad in an ever worsening economy."

    Day, night, weekend, weekday, bad economy, good economy, holiday weekend or not. It shouldn't matter. Vegas has roughly 1.8 million people. UNLV itself has over 30,000 students and staff. I am glad attendance has increased in the past couple of years and that we lead the west coast in attendance. Still, people need to get behind this team and start packing the Mack, especially when facing a team like Louisville. This, of course, is not to take away anything from the fans who were there--they were raucous and supportive, as they should be (especially the students). I just think it is sad that a city the size of Vegas can't find 18,500 people to sell out a game. I think it will happen though--there are enough fair-weather fans who will be jumping on the bandwagon here soon. And while they may not bleed scarlet and gray like the rest of us, I say get on board, cause this wagon is going places! Go Rebels!

  26. reb11, they'll be coming back in abundance. thanks for the interest. We've had a lot of overlap lately, lotsa pigskin and roundball, the holiday, We'll get back on the podcasts and feed you what you want! :-) thanks
    As for that one character, let's all agree to ignore. Totally ignore. OK?
    UNLV is up to No. 8 in RPI ... if that stays single digits all season, the ncaas will be a no-brainer before the MWC tourney ...
    Polee seemed overwhelmed and very happy at his reception yesterday. That's how it should be, just me talking... For Cory Joseph, it should be like new year's eve ... posters, banners, balloons ... I mean, you folks gotta go all out (just my opinion) ... keep questions and queries coming folks... thanks

  27. I can't believe the Mack was only 14k and change, I was there the past 2 games, and it was WAY more people than that. The upper deck was nearly completely full. Anyway, great game Rebels, and I too did not like the underrated chant (show a little class Las Vegas), but in the moment, that was expected. UNLV is just underrated.

  28. It did appear more than 14,00 to me too.

    This was a great win for the Rebels and I hope they can keep it up Wednesday at Arizona.

    I have said this before and I will say it again. I hate the opponents shooting into the media in the second half. When the game is on the line the other team gets to shoot free throws with no one in the back ground to try and mess them up. In the first half UL shoots 44.4% shooting towards the students and 76.5% in the second half shooting towards the media. This is the worse setup in the country. Look at all the other arenas in the Mtn. West and see if anyone else has the visitors shooting toward the media. This was changed when the Rebels were not very good and the Mack wasn't rockin'. Well the Mack is rockin' again and the Rebels are back in the national spot light. It is time to put our fans behind that basket again.

    Just think if the students are sitting where the media is. The visiting team will have to run in and out of their locker room right by the students. Their bench would be close to the students as well and they would have to shoot their free throws toward them in the second half.

  29. I think the "Over Rated" chant was focused more on Pitino than Lousiville. There was a lot of anger directed at him, if you were there, you could feel it.

    Personally, I LOVED IT. Let's just keep backing it up.

  30. two things from my standpoint as a student who's been going to every home game: First, you are going to get overrated chants because many of the people who fill this house for these big games aren't educated enough on opponents or how these UNLV games usually go - especially students who are going on name recognition alone (OMG, its Louisville!). With those extra 2-3K in UNLV fans and the louder student section, that was bound to happen. I do agree about the court storming, but again, they were all students looking to get a picture on the center court to put on their facebook accounts, I ignore it.

    Second, even though we are being a bit too nitpicky with the fans at this game, the fans helped this Rebel team stay in this game. I think had the venue been turned, they couldn't do what they did last year, they just don't have the seniority on the team to pull that off, I don't care how many big school transfers you have.

    I'm excited about how they handle this road trip, and if yesterday was any indication of getting closer to a starting lineup, I think Mr. Santee finally showed the UNLV faithful what we've been waiting for for the last couple of years. Go Rebs!

  31. I thought it looked like more than 14k.
    But damn! Those tickets were worth the money!

  32. The only thing I was left wondering after the game is where is the home court advantage, when it comes to officiating?

    A touch foul at half court one way is a breakaway foul, and when another guy goes in for a breakaway layup, gets the Ray Lewis treatment, and officials look at replays for 5 mins (breaking the players concentration at the line) and come away with a no call? Amazing.

    I just hope the Rebels get such generous treatment by the zebras when they hit the road.

  33. I was there and, in my opinion, the court was not "stormed." Half the students from the student section walked down to the court to celebrate with the team. Seriously, people need to drop that. Especially, L'ville fans.

    And, L'ville looked really good and played hard the entire game. UNLV just looked better. L'ville should be a top 25 team... and so should the Rebels.

  34. The fans were great. The 15 seconds of the over-rated yelling was all good natured and part of college basketball atmosphere we need more of. It was no big deal. Just some good fun. The students going to the floor was great. They were just showing the love. This is a Rebel team that we can all embrace and feel really good about. Hell, if I was 40 years younger I would have been down there too.

  35. Yeah, the students didn't "storm" the court, they walked quickly down to celebrate the victory. I kind of expected it actually.

  36. Boy, I remember running on the floor when UNLV beat Michigan, back in 1995, or 1996, long time ago when I was a student. I think it was like the first time we beat a top 20 team for a very long time. Keep it up Rebel students, it's all good, please continue to cheer our Rebels with a touch of class.

  37. fever, solid points. I'll ck it out, for what it's worth.
    MWCRob, I totally agree. The officials have been sooo perplexing. I'd love to see a game between two college teams at Sunset Park, a la pickup style. Without refs.

  38. I wouldn't call that win an upset the Rebels are the better team all the way around and it was obvious. They did not over-achieve they are just better then the Ville. I know good teams when I see them, I know ballers when I see them and UNLV is a real good team. This is not far fetched UNLV has the potential to run the table on their schedule. I did not say they are going to but if they play with a nasty hunger and with a street ballers heart their is nobody on their schedule that will beat them. Don't be shocked if they run the table!!

    As far as Ville getting back into the game I knew they would make a run. Pitino adjusted to a 3-2 rotating zone and stopped pressing and that zone took away the lanes to the hoop. UNLV had good looks they just went cold from the outside, that is bound to happen once in a while. There will be games this year that they don't miss those 3's and they win by 25 easily.

  39. Suff pretends to be a true fan yet the moment we start playing well he runs off. What a fake! Well look at the bright side Rebel fans at least we won't have to read his garbage anytime soon:-)

  40. Storming the court has nothing to do with not expecting to win, it's about being excited and showing appreciation to the team so get over it.

  41. We will not read Sufferin's comments for a long time, and I mean LONG TIME. He will come out when we lose a game..which may be in quite a while. This team needs to keep playing with heart or everything will go to waste (look at last yrs team)

  42. Did I mention how great is was when the entire band turned their backs to Louiville's intros. Especially Pitino, he had it coming.