Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 | 8:49 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer talk about the UNLV basketball team's offensive explosion in a 124-75 victory against Central Arkansas and look ahead to the New Year's Even game at Hawaii.
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 124, Central Arkansas 75
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- Rebels’ early morning focus translates to 85-68 victory against California
- Instant analysis: After watching UNLV handle Cal, I'm making a bold prediction
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
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One of the first stats UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice looks at when analyzing the box score after each game is the ratio of assists to field goals made.
On Wednesday, it’s pretty safe to say those numbers jumped off the stats sheet.
In a 124-75 blowout victory against visiting Central Arkansas, the Rebels unofficially had 40 assists on 47 field goals made and shot 67 percent — numbers that mean Rice’s transition offense is working to near perfection.
Rice typically mentions the ratio in the opening statement of his postgame press conference, constantly stressing the importance of sharing the basketball and praising players for the willingness to be unselfish.
In the first half alone, UNLV had 21 assists on 25 made shots in posting 63 points. Sure, Central Arkansas (5-7) was a pretty helpless opponent, but posting 60-plus points in 20 minutes is downright impressive. The final points were the most UNLV has scored since the 1990-91 season — you surely remember that team, one of the best in the history of college basketball.
Watching the ball movement, you could see the players have more than embraced Rice’s strategy.
The strong passing was more than a nifty alley-oop pass from Chace Stanback to Anthony Marshall that produced the game’s most exciting play. The players are making the extra pass with no hesitation because they have confidence in their teammate to convert. That makes them dangerous moving forward the rest of the season.
By no means was Central Arkansas a quality opponent. In fact, the alma mater of Scottie Pippen wouldn’t have done much better with Pippen in the lineup during his prime.
While I typically warn not to get overly excited after thumping an inferior opponent, the crisp offensive execution from virtually start to finish merits praise. After all, the Rebels had 76 with 16 minutes to play.
Here are some other observations from the game.
Chace Stanback can’t miss : The senior forward connected on 9 of 11 attempts from 3-point range in scoring 29 points, and has made 26 of 37 field goals in the last three games. Every time he touched the ball Wednesday, the home fans rose to their feet in anticipation of another long-range bomb. And he didn’t disappoint. It was like he was throwing a beach ball into the Pacific Ocean. I can’t remember a Rebel player having this hot of a shooting streak in recent memory. Can you?
Reggie Smith is progressing : In just his third game after sitting out one year, the Marquette transfer showed he is becoming more comfortable in the flow of the offense. He scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 11 minutes before leaving with about four minutes to play after taking an elbow to the nose. More importantly, he dished out five assists. Patience is the name of the game for Smith while he returns to game shape. At least for one night, he appeared to be there.
Wade Norman’s 3-pointer : Norman, a walk-on from Faith Lutheran in Las Vegas, scored his first points as a Rebel when he connected on a 3-pointer with less than two minutes to play. For several locals, having a chance to accomplish what Norman did Wednesday would be a dream come true. I’m guessing tonight will be a moment Norman won’t soon forget. In a way, and not to sound too corny, his bucket was for all those locals who could only dream of playing for UNLV. That includes me.