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Again behind Willis and Stanback, UNLV survives scare at TCU, 79-70

Duo combines for 47 points and 21 of Rebels’ final 22 as team improves to 16-4, 4-2


Ron Jenkins / AP

UNLV’S Tre’Von Willis, right, drives inside past TCU’s Ronnie Moss in the second half of Saturday’s game at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Updated Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010 | 5:09 p.m.

UNLV-TCU Basketball

UNLV's Chace Stanback, top, dunks over TCU players Nikola Cerina and Zvonko Buljan in the first half of UNLV's 79-70 victory on Jan. 23, 2010, at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. Launch slideshow »

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Final, UNLV wins 79-70

FORT WORTH, Texas — Tre'Von Willis scored a career-high 30 points, while Chace Stanback matched a career-high with 19, and UNLV held off TCU at Daniel-Meyer Arena, 79-70, on Saturday evening.

The duo was at its best when the going got tough, combining to 21 of UNLV's final 22 points of the night. Derrick Jasper closed the game out with a free throw.

The Rebels led 38-30 at the half, but behind hot shooting from Greg Hill and tough play on the perimeter by Ronnie Moss, TCU tied the game up, 60-60, with over eight minutes to play.

Then, Stanback took over with a pair of buckets, and Willis then shut the door. First, he backed down Moss and faded away for a jumper off the glass. He followed it with a three on the left wing in Moss's face, sneering towards the TCU bench afterwards and thumping his chest twice.

UNLV's three big men — Brice Massamba, Darris Santee and Matt Shaw — combined for 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

The Rebels improve to 16-4 overall and 4-2 in Mountain West play, while TCU is now 10-10 and 2-3, respectively. UNLV will face Air Force at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night before heading into an eight-day layoff.

For full postgame coverage, including stories, stats, photos and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

6:20, second half, UNLV leads 64-60

FORT WORTH, Texas — UNLV continues to refuse to let TCU take the lead on its home floor, but the Horned Frogs continue to get closer and closer.

Thanks to seven straight points from guard Greg Hill, including a 3-pointer in transition, TCU closed to within two points at 59-57. Then, after a Tre'Von Willis free throw, Ronnie Moss thundered down the floor and scored an and-one layup. His subsequent free throw tied it up, 60-60.

Then, Chace Stanback answered the bell again for UNLV on the offensive end. He got Zvonko Buljan to bite on head fakes twice, first driving for a tough layup inside, then cashing a mid-range jumper.

The Rebels are up 64-60, with Stanback (14 points) and Willis (21) again carrying the offensive load.

Someone else, however, might need to emerge in the closing minutes.

15:48, second half, UNLV leads 50-42

FORT WORTH, Texas — Tre'Von Willis scored his second and-one layup of the game after TCU closed to within six points heading into the last T.V. timeout, and the Rebels refuse to let the Horned Frogs get too close, leading 50-42 in the second half in Fort Worth.

Brice Massamba, however, got UNLV started on the offensive end out of the break. He hit two short-range looks and then cashed a pair of free throws, giving him his first six points of the night. The UNLV big men are now a combined 8-of-8 from the floor with 20 points to their credit.

TCU, still. won't go away. Freshman Nikola Cerina has seven points in the half, including three at the stripe.

By the way, want a sign that this is officially a 'football school'? The TCU cheerleaders — all 6,458 of them — came out for the second half wearing football uniforms.

Halftime, UNLV leads 38-30

FORT WORTH, Texas — Had it not been for six 3-pointers falling through in the first half for TCU, UNLV could be ahead in a laugher right now.

But as it is, the Rebels are up by eight at the break, 38-30, and are in firm control in Fort Worth.

Tre'Von Willis scored 13 points in the first half, including a late and-one layup, and is 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

UNLV got 14 bench points in the first half thanks to the efforts of just two players — forwards Matt Shaw and Darris Santee.

Santee, in the return to his home state, has six points on 3-of-3 shooting, while Matt Shaw is also 3-of-3 from the floor. Shaw, who turns 22 years old today, hit UNLV's only two 3-pointers in the first half.

Here are some other numbers of note from the first half ...

— UNLV is 15-of-27 from the floor, and 13-of-18 from inside the 3-point arc.

— Chace Stanback has eight points, with six of those coming thanks to his signature mid-range shot.

— UNLV is out-rebounding TCU, 16-10. The Horned Frogs have only one offensive board, while Derrick Jasper has six on the defensive end.

6:58, first half, UNLV leads 27-23

FORT WORTH, Texas — It's a game which feels like a blowout in UNLV's favor, but the Rebels lead TCU by just four at 27-23 with 6:58 to play in the first half.

Why is it so close? Well, the Horned Frogs are hitting their threes, which will do the trick any day. In fact, five of TCU's seven field goals so far are from deep.

Still, UNLV is still leading despite mostly trading those threes for twos on the offensive end.

Sparking the effort for UNLV has been the big men off of the bench. Darris Santee, playing in his home state, has six points so far, while Matt Shaw, coming off of the bench for the first time in quite a while, scored eight points upon entering the game. He hit a turnaround hook shot on the block and then back-to-back treys from the left wing.

UNLV is out-rebounding TCU, 10-5, and is playing some of its most solid basketball this conference season.

15:27, first half, UNLV leads 8-5

FORT WORTH, Texas — Chace Stanback showed no hangover early on after scoring a career-high 19 points at Colorado State on Wednesday, as he put in UNLV's first two buckets today as the Rebels hold an early 8-5 lead at TCU.

The Rebels set the tone right away with a great defensive possession to start the game, forcing Zvonko Buljan to hoist a fade-away 25-foot 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. On the other end, Stanback spun from Buljan and hit a mid-range jumper to open the scoring. On UNLV's next trip up the floor, he drove home and slammed one home one-handed.

Brice Massamba got the start for the Rebels over Matt Shaw, who had held the starting power forward gig for quite some time. Shaw is still on the bench now, and Massamba was replaced by Darris Santee, who dunked one home for his first bucket of the game.

Shaw has yet to take off the warm-ups. Something might be up. Not sure.


FORT WORTH, Texas — UNLV has traveled both near and far this season, staying strong in front of some of the harshest road crowds you'll find in the West, such as at BYU, Arizona and New Mexico.

Tonight, as the Rebels (15-4 overall, 3-2 MWC) take on TCU (10-9, 2-2) to cap off a five-day, two-game road swing, they'll run into the complete opposite brand of environment.

With about 30 minutes to go until tip-off, the stands in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum are far from packed. That was the case last year, too, however, as UNLV was tripped up by TCU, 80-73.

However, this year's group has shown the ability to not overlook anyone, and that point was proven on Wednesday night in an 80-72 victory at Colorado State. The Rebels are in the middle of a nice stretch in conference play where the win column can be padded, with today's tilt with TCU and Tuesday's home date with lowly Air Force.

Showing up alone, however, won't get it done today. Here are today's three keys to UNLV victory.

1) UNLV needs to control the defensive glass like it did on Tuesday night in grabbing 33 boards on that end and limiting Colorado State's second-chance looks. The Rebels forced the Rams to beat them with their first opportunities on offense, and that was pretty key, as CSU couldn't hit those 25-foot threes all night and UNLV gobbled up star forward Andy Ogide, who was limited to four points and two rebounds.

2) Whoever guards Zvonko Buljan, be it Derrick Jasper or Chace Stanback, must win that battle. He hurt UNLV on both ends of the floor in each meeting last season, and was a spark plug in the upset in Fort Worth. He's averaging 13.4 points and 9.3 boards a game this year for the Horned Frogs.

3) Jasper has to simply keep doing what he's done so far on the road, as UNLV has gone 6-1 this season in true road games. He's averaging solid numbers across the board on the road, and most important are the six rebounds he's pulling down per road game. When he crashes in from the wing and is nabbing defensive rebounds by the bunch, he can throw an opponent off quickly. He's also good at starting the break after grabbing those.

As for tonight's prediction and Pick to Click, I'm gonna take UNLV again, 77-69, and select Oscar Bellfield. I know my reasoning sounds weird, but I'm a firm believer that when on the road, the slightest disrespect from your hosts can set a guy off. Bellfield was just going after a loose ball during warmups which was picked up by an usher in the corner. Bellfield put his hands out, asking for the ball, the usher looked at him and then rolled the ball slowly to him. Bellfield glared, then bent down to pick it up. He went from calm to serious in a snap. Looking forward to seeing what he does with that.

Talk to you after tip-off ...

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  1. 2-0 this week is huge!

    Let's go Rebels!

  2. game streaming online anywhere?

  3. Nice to see Massamba get the start tonight. Go Rebels!

  4. good start... lets go red

  5. way to take their "crowd" out of it early :)

  6. Go Santee, personally I think he's the best of the three when he wants too.

  7. @ksiffermann: I agree. Santee looking good so far. He seems to lack confidence most of the time. When he has it though he tends to play well.

    2 offensive boards already. Much better effort than on Wednesday--hopefully we keep it up.

  8. What has gotten into our bigs today? Whatever it is, I like it. Santee and Shaw looking good early.

  9. i agree... dont know who these new bigs are but i like it a lot. how did Buljan get a black eye?

  10. If we could just play a little D against the 3 we could run these guys out of the building tonight.

  11. Jasper is single-handedly keeping pace with TCU on the boards. Overall we are killin' it.

    Happy b-day to Shaw. No wonder he is playing well today!

  12. @ksiffermann ... We are in agreement there :) He went for a fourth bucket with that power jam attempt flying through the lane, and I hadn't seen that out of him in quite some time, I must say.

  13. Can't over look the fact that TCU only has one offensive rebound so far. If it weren't for all of those threes falling, the Rebels would be up pretty huge right now. At eight points, UNLV appears in pretty firm control, agreed?

  14. Good start 2nd half. I like it when they go inside to Massamba.

  15. WTF is going on?!

  16. we arent going inside anymore...

  17. Thx for momentum swing chop.

  18. Why do we always let up? Would somebody show some pride and stop these chumps? We should be winning by 20 by now. Ridiculous.

  19. No question about it, Chop's bad pass changed momentum. He played less minutes tonight, I figure he's done from here.

  20. Tre'Von is a beast!

  21. this is painful

  22. OMG could we please make our free throws at the end of games!?!

  23. We cant guard off the dribble, we cant stop the three. When did we decide defense was not important?

  24. Solid win, still don't feel like we really closed it out. Too bad Hawkins didn't get rewarded with his good play against Colorado State. Chop's 3-4 minutes should of gone to justin. Just sayin'.

  25. What's so positive about Tre is he's not forcing at all. Everything is within the offense, letting it come to him. He's playing smart using his body and abusing those smaller guards. I hope he keeps it up.

    Great game Willis!

  26. Another nice road win. May not have been pretty at times, but we didn't fold at the end. Great games by Tre'Von and Chase. Nice first half by the bigs. Bring on Air Force!

  27. Willis and Stanback defiantly the backbone of this team.

  28. Hopefully Kendall can break out of his shooting funk at home against the Academy.

  29. Wallace and Massamba are horrendous beyond me. Wallace had one good game all season and Massamba can't play defense....while Oscar Bellfield looked absolutely terrible tonight. Jasper grabbed 9 boards but he's terrible on offense. Our entire offense is Stanback and Willis and luckily they're back next year or we'd be screwed. Wallace sucks horrificly. I'm almost certain the rebels win this tuesday, because if they don't...they're officially out of the NCAA tourney. Next huge game is against Wyoming a week and a half from today. Win that game and set up the monster showdown with the mormons.

  30. Not one word from soccer doosh about the Rebels proving BOTH of his predictions wrong this week.

    Now that's credibility.

    I'm glad he's wrong so much :)


  31. Hey Ryan,

    You still want to tell us how your boy's minutes are "meaningless"? That turnover he committed was key in momentum. The guy is horrific. We were watching the game and my friend had to go to the bathroom to vomit as soon as your boy cost us a key posession at a critical time. Address the issue, Ryan.

    Good thing that we won but I am going to be objective here and state the fact that noone on this team is stepping up to help Tre' and Chace. We cannot continue to depend on two guys scoring 50 points a night in order for us to win. This will not fly against the top teams in the conference. Someone needs to step up and do something. We need a third option!!!!

    Tre'von Willis is an absolute stud. Over 20 points in every game in conference, shooting a good percentage. I love this kid.
    Stanback has stepped up his game significantly and has been the key to winning these game. Very happy with both of these guys.

  32. So TCU coach Jim Christian thinks that, in MWC play, Willis is the league's best player right now. I know it's not much of a stretch of a comment, but do y'all agree? I'd say you have to at this point. He also had six boards and four assists today ...

  33. Willis is good, but I bet Steve Alford could still kick his butt in a one-on-one pick-up game.

  34. Alford today or circa 1986?

  35. Since league has started Willis has been tearin it up! He missed those two free throws but made two free throws to make it up down the stretch. He is playing very well as of late.

  36. Where is Derrick Jasper? You are healed maynard, go get the gusto. I love the heck out of you dude but for crying out loud, GO BE YOUNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Before tonight's game, I would have disagreed that Tre' is POY in the conference. I still lean to Fredette (as much as it churns my stomach) just because he can do so many other things besides score. Tre' is a terrific scorer, and when he wants, a great defender and rebounder. HOWEVER, his range is limited to inside the 3-pt arc, and his handle can be shaky at times. Meanwhile Fredette can hit the 3 as well as drive the lane, doesn't turn the ball over and can pass very well. It is very close between these two players. If Tre' plays like he did tonight consistently, basically carrying the team to victory, then maybe he will get POY. To this point, in my opinion, I have to say Fredette is a little bit more of a complete player.

  38. Let's go Aztecs, hopefully they can stop BYU's streak...

  39. Once again people who don't know basketball talking trash. That pass was not Chops fault! Wallace is suppose to get between his man and the ball. Kendal got beat to the spot and never got a body on his man. The three on the next play was Wallace sucking in and not getting out to defend the 3 point shot. That SMALL run was due to 2 poor plays by Wallace.

  40. Santee doesn't look confidence, it's Kruger's ridiculous system of playing a 6'1" relief power foward that limits the minutes for the bigger guys to get any experience.

  41. during conference play jimmer has been "sick/ill" we'll see if it was the mono or the fact that the rebs own his ass defensively - i seem to recall 'ol jimmer getting rejected like 4 times in provo by the rebel D... i dunno what liljoe is talking about ... at times tre is the rebs BEST 3 point shooter and best overall scorer period he may not get many dimes but that's not what he's asked to do defensively he's tenacious ... on a side note sdsu's loss officially puts us behind byu in holding homecourt serve - i know the cougs are playing well but i just know we match up better with them than any other team does - gotta take care of business against the falcons and the cowboys but heres to smokin those fools by 20 or more come feb. 6

  42. Typo - lack not look.

    And yes Born-Raised, Wallace did not play very well with multiple lapses costing points but he'll have those pointed out to him tomorrow and hopefully pick up his act on defense.

  43. Another good win on the road, but it looks like everyone can see some cracks.

    Bench depth is making up for size and under-physicality, but these guys need to play like the gelled team they were against UNM. Still two high-altitude road games against bigger, physical teams at Utah and Wyoming. Should sweep AFA, CSU, and TCU, and Wyoming will struggle at the T&M, but SDSU will be tough, and UNM will be looking to return the favor. That could be a "trap" game the Rebels are expected to win at this point. Peligroso. BYU's started to look mortal in the last two games, and I'd LOVE to see the Rebels hang an "L" on them going into the tournament.

    And then there's that. The conference that eats itself will go back for seconds with the winner of the conference tournament having to play up to four of these teams again for the auto-bid. Between the comical officiating and the parity of the conference, is there a more entertaining one in basketball right now?

    "Are you not entertained!" -Maximus (Russell Crowe) "Gladiator"

  44. Here's exactly what will happen and you can quote me on this:

    Finish conference 11-5, win the MWC tourney, get an 8 or 9 seed, win in the 1st round of NCAAs, lose to a 1 seed in the 2nd round.