UNLV starts hot, storms past BYU, 88-74

Willis’s career-high 33 points combined with hit 3-point shooting early tie UNLV atop MWC standings with BYU


Sam Morris

UNLV prepares to take the floor against BYU on Saturday afternoon behind their mascot, Hey Reb.

Updated Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 | 2:59 p.m.

#12 BYU vs UNLV

Led by a Tre'Von Willis career-high 33 points, UNLV upended twelfth-ranked BYU 88-74 for the Rebels' seventh straight win over the Cougars at the Thomas & Mack.

The Rebel Room

UNLV-BYU preview featuring Jason Franchuk

Ryan Greene welcomes in Jason Franchuk from the Provo Daily Herald to talk about Saturday's monstrous meeting between UNLV and BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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Final, UNLV wins 88-74

Chances are, UNLV might never shoot from 3-point range over the course of 20 minutes like it did in the first half on Saturday against BYU.

But the Rebels used their hot hands to spread the Cougars out, and in the process made maybe their biggest statement so far in the 2009-10 season.

UNLV, who could in turn find itself back in the Top 25 polls again come Monday, ousted No. 12 BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center, 88-74.

The Rebels are now 19-4 overall and 7-2 in Mountain West play, while BYU is 22-3 overall and 7-2 in the league.

Willis scored 21 of his points in the first half, including a trio of 3-pointers. In that first half, as a team, the Rebels were 9-of-13 from deep and took a 56-34 lead into the locker room. He'd finish with a career-high 33 points, besting the 30 he tallied two Saturdays ago in a 79-70 win at TCU.

BYU opened the second half on a 9-2 run, but the Rebels surged back behind nine points after the break by Kendall Wallace. With his scoring, it meant that for the second consecutive game, all 10 Rebels to play scored.

Willis, on top of his 33 points, had eight assists, no turnovers and five rebounds. Oscar Bellfield scored 12 points, while Matt Shaw had 13 off of the bench. Chace Stanback had seven points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

For BYU, Jimmer Fredette had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but was only 4-of-15 from the floor.

The Rebels are back at home for another huge game on Wednesday night against No. 15 New Mexico.

For full postgame coverage, including stories, stats, photos, video and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to

7:48, second half, UNLV leads 74-59

UNLV is in a bit of an offensive drought with just under eight minutes to play, but defensively, the Rebels have not let up, still holding a comfortable 15-point lead on the No. 12 Cougars at 74-59.

Chace Stanback hasn't scored since pouring in five points early, but has a game-high 12 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Tre'Von Willis added a corner 3-pointer and then an and-one layup to put him at 33 points, which is a new career best. The previous high was set two Saturdays ago, when he poured in 30 in a 79-70 win at TCU.

Now he's on a hunt to score 40, which no Rebel has done since Trevor Diggs accomplished the feat in 2001.

12:58, second half, UNLV leads 68-48

BYU used a 9-2 run to open the second half to at least make their presence felt a bit after trailing at the break by 22 points.

But UNLV pushed right back.

Kendall Wallace busted BYU's zone defense by driving hard and earning a trip to the line. He hit both free throws, then hit UNLV's 10th 3-pointer of the day, pushing the Rebels back up by 20 points.

With Wallace getting on the board, it marks the second consecutive game in which all 10 players in Lon Kruger's rotation have scored.

After hitting the trey, he dished inside to Tre'Von Willis, who scored to give himself 26 points on the day. Willis then picked up his sixth assist on a give to Darris Santee and his seventh on a similar pass to Wallace for another Rebels layup.

Halftime, UNLV leads 56-34

The Rebels used the 3-point shot to open up everything else in the first half of their biggest home game of the year, and in turn they hold a commanding 56-34 edge on No. 12 BYU at the half.

Jimmer Fredette scored 13 points in the first half for the Cougars, but never have 13 first half points looked more inconsequential.

Tre'Von Willis was 6-of-9 from the floor for UNLV and has a game-high 21 points. He's on pace to crush his career high of 30, which he scored just two weeks ago at TCU.

The big story so far for UNLV is 9-of-13 efficiency from deep, including three huge connections off of the bench by Matt Shaw.

Here are some other numbers of note from the first 20 minutes at the Mack ...

— BYU is at least taking advantage of its free opportunities to score. The Cougars are 12-of-12 at the line, while UNLV is 7-of-10.

— UNLV has 14 assists on 20 field goals and only four turnovers. The Cougars have five assists and seven giveaways.

— Aside from his 21 points, Tre'Von Willis has five assists, no turnovers, three rebounds and two steals.

— BYU is just 4-of-15 from 3-point range and 9-of-27 from the floor.

— UNLV's bench is carrying some weight, too, with 21 points so far. All five reserves who have played have scored. The only Rebel not to score so far is Kendall Wallace.

5:40, first half, UNLV leads 45-18

The biggest question now is: When will the hot shooting stop for the Rebels?

Behind 9-of-13 3-point shooting, UNLV is rolling over No. 12 BYU right now at the Mack, 45-18.

The latest Rebel to catch fire is junior forward Matt Shaw, who is coming off of a fine showing at Wyoming on Wednesday in which he scored a game-high 16 points.

He hit a trio of 3-pointers, and it's opened up everything else for UNLV. Tre'Von Willis leads all scorers with 15 points, and his latest bucket came off of a bank shot from the right block.

Then, Justin Hawkins recorded his second steal of the game and went coast-to-coast for an up-and-under layup.

UNLV is an unconscious 17-of-28 from the floor, while BYU is just 5-of-17 and cannot get comfortable.

11:50, first half, UNLV leads 22-8

The Rebels are staying hot, and everyone's getting into the act.

Tre'Von Willis already has 10 points, but Oscar Bellfield added a 3-pointer from atop the key and Steve 'Chop' Jones then put in a 17-foot baseline jumper.

After Bellfield's trey, BYU coach Dave Rose called for a full timeout and absolutely laid into his team, turning his face red in the process.

So far, UNLV is 4-of-5 from deep, while the Cougars are 0-for-5 and just 2-of-11 from the floor.

15:15, first half, UNLV leads 11-2

Chace Stanback is a different player now than he was the first time UNLV and BYU met, and he's wasting no time in showing it.

The UNLV sophomore forward opened the game with an 18-foot jumper from the corner, and he's added a 3-pointer since as the Rebels are off to an 11-2 lead in front of a crazed crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Meanwhile, BYU is just 1-of-6 from the floor.

The Rebels got a big offensive game from Tre'Von willis the first time around, and he's up to it again, adding a pair of early treys for UNLV, who is clearly feeding off of the intense energy in the building.

Now in the first TV break, BYU is putting in Jonathan Tavernari, who as the team's top 3-point gun could make this a game again real fast.


Hello everyone and welcome to a home game for the Rebels which will be like none other this season.

The Thomas & Mack Center is sold out for today's clash with No. 12 BYU, and anyone driving down Swenson or Tropicana towards the arena will see it in giant, bold red letters on the video board at the intersection.

It will be the kind of atmosphere that symbolizes big-time college basketball.

Sure, it'll be something UNLV can enjoy, but it's the biggest home game of the year for a reason.

At 6-2 in the Mountain West, UNLV is looking up only at BYU, who is 7-1 at the mid-way point. Tre'Von Willis put it best yesterday — if the Rebels lose, they're pretty much fighting for second place the rest of the way.

BYU's schedule after today is far from treacherous. The Cougars still have games against New Mexico and San Diego State, but both are in Provo. A win for Dave Rose's club today means they can recline that driver's seat a bit.

For UNLV, this is the start of a rough patch in league play. After today is a home date with No. 15 New Mexico on Wednesday night, followed by a trip to San Diego State next Saturday.

FYI, if you're wanting tickets for Wednesday's game, I'd get online and buy them now, because if the Rebels win this one, I could easily see it selling out by the end of the weekend.

Now on to today's 3 keys to UNLV victory

1) UNLV is a different team now than it was when it went up to Provo and lost on Jan. 6, 77-73. The big difference? The offensive emergence of Chace Stanback, who since that game is averaging 15.4 points and six rebounds a game. Well, BYU is different, too, as star guard Jimmer Fredette is at full strength today as opposed to battling mono, which was the case a month ago. But Fredette has always struggled with UNLV, and if the Rebels can make history repeat itself, they're set up pretty well.

(Sidenote: I think whoever wins today between Tre'Von Willis and Fredette is probably in the driver's seat for league Player of the Year honors.)

2) The Rebels can't let Jonathan Tavernari beat them. The Gorman grad had 17 points and nine boards off of the bench in the first meeting, and since then has failed to duplicate that performance. You know he badly wants a win over UNLV in the Mack, as he's 0-5 in the department for his career. He has the quickest 3-point release in maybe the entire country. The Rebels can't let him shake free.

3) Brice Massamba needs to be active and productive again. He was silent on Wednesday at Wyoming, playing only eight minutes due to foul trouble. But his offensive game is rapidly coming along and he's the most aggressive rebounder among the Rebels' big men. With BYU's size — even though Brandon Davies is out — he needs to lead the charge inside.

As for today's prediction and 'Pick to Click' ... I'm going with UNLV in a shootout, 78-75, and taking Stanback as my pick to go off. I think his poor performance the first time around really ate at him.

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  1. Best 4 minutes of basketball played all year long. Keep it going.

  2. Welcome to the Mack!!! (Sean Connery voice)

  3. 45-18 6 mins to go

  4. I hate to say it, but I think our offense is more potent without Jasper.

  5. Flying in tomorrow night to see the Rebels Wed night. Omaha loves the Rebs

  6. I told yall so that UNLV would win by at least 10, byu cannot beat UNLV in Vegas!!! UNLV will win the conference if they run the table. Great job Rebs that was best 1st half a rebel team has played in a long long time. Willis is the best player in the conference, hands down he will cook Fredette every time they play..

  7. There are a few people in Haiti who are not too happy about this win. But I'm not one of them!
    Good work Greene. Good work Rebels.

  8. Excellent game! Great effort on the boards by everyone. BYU made their runs in the 2nd half but we constantly fought back to hold our lead. Unbelievable shooting in the first half. Tre is a beast! Fredette played well and kept BYU in the game, but Tre definitely outplayed him. This should definitely catapult us back into the top 25 on Monday. Bring on the Lobos! Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeebels!

  9. Matt Shaw = 13 pts, 3 ast, 5 rbs. Those are excellent stats from someone who comes off the bench. Tre'Von is a menace to society, we already know that. Chace is a rebounding machine! 7 pts, 14 rbs, 4 assists. Wally finally got himself together after a sluggish first half and produced in the second. This is excellent rebel basketball and the way UNM doesn't make shots...I'm expecting a better outcome wednesday night but the MAJOR game at SDSU is looming. That and UTAH are the two games to worry about.

  10. Unbelievable shooting in the first half and the team looks real confident too. The energy and pride was definitely in the house. No letting up on the lobos this coming Wednesday. More attack to the hoop and keep draining those 3's baby!

    GO REBS!

  11. Best game of the we looked good and made BYU look bad...Great Game....Stanback and Shaw are looking good!

  12. Also great to see us play well in front of a sold out crowd. Hopefully we'll see another sellout for UNM, and hopefully the rest of the year as well. Great to see LJ and Tark in attendance. That first half made me think it was 1990 again. While we may not shoot that well again, our defense, rebounding, and our overall effort give me confidence that we could have won this game without the crazy shooting in the first half.

    I think you can definitely see improvement in this team throughout the season, but especially in the past few games. Despite the loss of Jasper, it seems that we are really starting to gel as a unit. Losing Jasper may have even helped the cause a bit, with the guys really pulling together, knowing that they have to all step it up in his absence. Looks to be an exciting second half of conference play. Go Rebels!

  13. 14 boards for Stanback.

  14. Despite Sufferin's hardest wishing, the Rebels played a great game.

    I guess Kruger gets to keep his job...rofl.

  15. Its a what haters!!!

  16. Great Game Rebels!

    Kruger and the boys now have their work cut out for them as they play two of the most important games of the season against New Mexico and San Diego State.

    Kruger's career at UNLV likely depends on the outcome of these next two big games!

    Lets hope Kruger has the team ready to play like they did in the 1st half. Giving up that 29 point lead and letting BYU creep back into the game was not something we as fans enjoy seeing. This Kruger team needs to learn how to put teams away when we go up by 20+!

    Go Rebels.

  17. Nothing better than blitzing the Cougars. Only wish we would have scored 100 plus on their heads. Steve "crybaby" Alford is next! Runnin' Rebels!!

  18. Make sure to get back safe, Justin! Looking forward to hearing about the experience.

  19. Great game. A few observations:

    (1) Before including Jimmer Fredette in the National Player of the Year talk perhaps the national media should watch him play a game. Rather than looking at the stat line of the BYU-Zona game and seeing that he scored 49 points perhaps they should look at the end score which had BYU winning by 30. It makes his game less impressive when he is scoring his 49th point to put the Cougars up by 25 with 3 minutes to play against Zona. Also, perhaps the national media should try to catch a MWC game before ranking BYU 12th and New Mexico 15th. The Rebs had the Cougs dead to rights in Provo and let it slip away and beat New Mexico at the Pit and yet can't get a nod in the rankings? Hypocrisy and idiocy at its best and another reason why the rankings and bracketologies are utterly flawed.

    (2) Tre'von Willis deserves the MWC player of the year award. It is absolutely nuts that someone who has been around the game as long as Boylen at Utah would say that the race for conference player of the year is over. Tre'von went head-to-head against Jimmer today and showed how to play in a big game. He played like he's played all year long and really set the tone in the first half with his aggressive play.

    (3) Great seeing Tark and LJ in attendance. Great turnout at the game. Can the student section give it a rest with the storming of the floor? Come on, we're UNLV not East Dakota State. We beat BYU for the 7th consecutive game at the TMC... stay off the floor kids.

    (4) I don't care what the score is... if Matt Shaw has hit that many 3's in a row keep him in. This is BYU... we hate BYU. We should have won by 30.

    (5) Stanback is playing with great confidence... great to see him rebounding that well.

    (6) This game means nothing unless the Rebs can win against New Mexico on Wednesday. Show up, wear red, pack the Mack. I'd be there if it wasn't for DC's snowmageddon.


  20. Also, we have the best beat write in college basketball: "ryanmgreene: Not sure wtf is going on. #unlvmbb leads No. 12 BYU now 45-18. Rebels are 9-of-13 from deep. Best half I've ever seen UNLV "

    You're a straight shooter Greene.

  21. one observation for me,

    Fredette(32)= Tre(33)- 1

    Tre'von for POY!

  22. suff...krugers here to stay as long as he likes....he just smacked the #12 team it was a 14pt win and wasn't even that close...trevon is a manchild, the kind of player that can take over any game he plays in and only a junior. even if we loose our next 2 it's all good (not gonna happen)..............REBELS [email protected]$!!!

  23. Don't worry about Suff, I saw him in his Fredette jersey walking towards the parking lot with 5 minutes left as I shook my keys at him. Haha

    Best 1st half I've seen in a long time. Great game rebs.

    Oh, who had saved people's predictions a few weeks back? MMM, that crow sure tastes good now doesn't it.

  24. Student's need to stay off the floor, nothing's been won.

  25. Best complete game I've seen the Rebels play in a long, long time.

    Why not let the students storm the floor? I see it all the time during major wins across the country. UNLV fully dismantled not only one of their biggest conference rivals, but also the #12 team in the nation. I say, let the school spirit build again; it was a a floor-storming win.

    See you Wednesday.

  26. i say if storming the court makes BYU feel even a little more embarrassed, i'm all for it

  27. Thank God Chop Jones came in a gave the Rebs a spark off the bench. Where would this team be without him?

  28. Huge win Today Rebels over The Cougar's.

    Now whip New Mexico

  29. I was in section 110 of the student section, and not even a majority of the students rushed the court. It was mainly just Kruger's Korner and some of the students sitting near them.

  30. Akbballfan, wrong forum. The bureaucracy is stealing resources not a couple of reporters.

    Go Rebels

  31. Sufferin, don't try and spin this.

    Kruger's career STILL does NOT depend on the next two games.

    Get over it.

  32. Do the refs ever call Jimmer for a travel. That was the strangest thing I have ever seen. He walked not 1 or 2 times but 5 or 6 times and it was never called. UNBELIEVABLE.

    Suff the Rebs went up by 20 with 3 and change to play and the game was over. The closest they got was 13 with 14 minutes left. Total domination!


  33. C'mon Rebel fans give me a break! UNLV men 88 BYU men 74 BYU women 76 UNLV women 60 BYU wins the day by a net 2 points.

  34. Akbballfan, Justin is in Haiti for a rescue mission, not on assignment for the Sun. He volunteered to go down there on his own accord and help out with the rescue efforts.

  35. If that makes you feel better CougFan than you guys are the big wieners!

  36. Lay off the the spirit, like you said it's BYU and we hate BYU!

    Go Rebels!

  37. This was the first BYU UNLV game've ever missed, and I missed a good one didnt I?. Its about time Kruger played the shooter instead of his round ball ghetto players. You give that kid some playing time and he wont let ya down. I'll bet them stinkin momos were quiet after the game, go back to provo with that blank Utarded look in your eyes momos.

  38. Wow....Ryan....why the hell would you agree with that idiot writer Franchuk in your audio?? You thought his prediction was "good" that BYU would beat UNLV by 4 points?? Seriously?? I don't understand why you didn't argue back or give a prediction yourself? I mean, I don't think anyone would have expected the complete domination by the Rebels, but the way that we controlled them the WHOLE GAME in Provo
    had me expecting a win.