Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 | 6:30 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 | 8:53 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins 83-49
UNLV breathed one big, extended sigh of relief on Saturday night in a 83-49 victory over TCU, evening their Mountain West Conference record out at 1-1.
Tre'Von Willis, off of a rough offensive night Wednesday night in the loss to No. 15 BYU, scored a season-high 22 points to go with seven rebounds, five steals and three assists for the Rebels.
He led five UNLV players in double figures, as Chace Stanback broke out of his recent slump with 15 points after a hot start, while Justin Hawkins was again a major spark off of the bench with 13 points and four steals.
Anthony Marshall and Carlos Lopez each scored 10 points for UNLV, who improves to 13-3 overall on the season.
The Rebels used a 24-0 run early in the game to make up for a slow start right out of the gates.
Next up for UNLV is arguably its toughest MWC game of the season on Wednesday night at No. 6 San Diego State.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, the Rebel Room Postgame podcast, stats, photos, video and much more, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
7:57, Second Half, UNLV leads 68-42
The other night, it was Anthony Marshall who fans were clamoring for to get more playing time.
Tonight, Justin Hawkins is stating his case.
The sophomore reserve guard has 11 points and four steals in 16 minutes, as he's gotten more extended run in the second half of what's turned into a blowout, with UNLV leading TCU, 68-42, late in the second half.
Tre'Von Willis, however, is clinging to his right to the top slot at the two-guard spot. He's scored 17 points, but also has six rebounds, five steals and three assists with only one turnover.
The only Rebel guard to not score yet is Oscar Bellfield. He's played consistent as a game manager, not turning it over once tonight, but Bellfield's ailing right wrist is clearly bothering his shot more than he wants to let on. He's 0-for-8 from the floor and 0-for-4 from long range.
15:58, Second Half, UNLV leads 54-34
The Rebels are remaining hot early in the second half after holding a 21-point halftime lead on the Horned Frogs, and are well on their way to their first Mountain West win of the 2010-11 season.
Chace Stanback had his first missed shot of the game to open up the second stanza, but still leads all scorers with 14 points in what is a well-rounded effort for UNLV.
Tre'Von Willis hit a 3-pointer to open the half and how has 12 points of his own to go with four rebounds, two assists and four steals.
TCU is shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor and has 16 turnovers, while UNLV to this point has only given it away four times.
3:58, First Half, UNLV leads 43-18
The 6-0 run leading into the game's second TV timeout turned into a 24-0 spurt that now has the Rebels flying high in a bounce-back effort against TCU.
UNLV leads 43-18 with just under four minutes left in the first half, and everyone's getting in on the act.
Justin Hawkins stayed hot throughout the run, and now has eight points on 4-of-4 shooting to go with four steals on the other end.
The defense is again clicking, as TCU has 14 turnovers already, while on the other end, UNLV has 10 assists and only two giveaways.
The biggest positive so far for UNLV? Chace Stanback is getting back on track. The junior, who has been offensively cold for about three weeks, has 14 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. He's attacked the basket aggressively and also has a big dunk in transition so far. To boot, Stanback has three rebounds and two assists.
The Rebels are playing with some swagger for the first time in about a month, and couldn't have picked a better time to do so with a trip to face No. 6 San Diego State on the horizon after tonight.
11:41, First Half, UNLV leads 14-12
UNLV's energy level has been strong right from go three days removed from the ugly home loss to BYU, but the Rebels are still having a tough time hitting outside shots consistently, holding a slim 14-12 lead on TCU mid-way through the first half.
TCU held a 12-8 lead as the Horned Frogs have shown good fight early behind the spunky backcourt duo of Ronnie Moss and Hank Thorns Jr. However, the Rebels got a big spark off of the bench for a second straight game from Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins.
Both game off of the bench and scored on hard drives as UNLV put together a quick 6-0 spurt to gain a lead.
It's a bit quiet in the Mack tonight, as the crowd took a little bit to come alive, but the Rebels aren't showing any emotional hangover from Wednesday's brutal defeat.
A nice moment came a few minutes in when reserve big man Carlos Lopez checked in for the first time. He was the first big man off of the bench ahead of Quintrell Thomas, and got an ovation from the crowd for his new look, having taken off his long hair earlier in the day. He then gestured to the crowd by rubbing his head and throwing a smile their way.
It's already been a good day for the UNLV men's basketball team, and the Rebels still have yet to take the floor at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels, just by looking at box scores from around the league, caught a glimpse at just how close the top of the Mountain West Conference pace might wind up being.
Many were ready to jump ship after UNLV was blown out at home on Wednesday night by No. 15 BYU, 89-77.
However, the 0-1 hole doesn't look so deep now.
Also dropping its league opener today was New Mexico, who lost a shocker at Wyoming, 67-66. The Cowboys had three shots at a game-winner in the final 20 seconds, with Francisco Cruz hitting an 8-footer just before the buzzer. That gave the Lobos their third loss in five games, and now they have Colorado State and No. 6 San Diego State this week. The plus side for Steve Alford's club is that those games are both at home.
Elsewhere, BYU improved to 2-0, but was played within 10 points by Air Force in Provo, winning 76-66. SDSU also stayed unblemished, pulling out a 71-62 win at Utah, giving the Aztecs two strong road wins to open their MWC slate.
In other words, the Rebels are not in as deep of a hole as some might think. But, of course, to keep it from getting deeper, they have to beat visiting TCU tonight.
Without hesitation, here are three things to watch in tonight's match-up between UNLV and the Horned Frogs:
1) Tre'Von Willis, if he's going to keep getting the big minutes in the back-court, cannot go 4-of-16 from the floor. He just can't. If not, and Anthony Marshall keeps producing like he has the last four games (15.0 ppg), expect a controversy to brew a bit surrounding Lon Kruger's starting five. Willis is only shooting 41 percent from the floor this season, down from 47.8 a year ago.
2) UNLV had to go away from its big men offensively in the second half against BYU, but that was out of necessity while playing catch-up. What might have been forgotten is that the bigs were great in the first half. Brice Massamba finished with 10 points, six rebounds and was solid all night. The Rebels could use that again, as TCU is very depleted in the post this year compared to the last few seasons.
3) Ronnie Moss always plays well at the Mack. The Frogs' junior combo-guard, who is tough for anyone in the league to stick on, is averaging 15 points per game this season, and last year in a blowout loss to the Rebels here, scored 25 points. The key is keeping everyone else quiet, which the Rebels have done well in this series over the past several years.
As for a prediction tonight, I'm saying UNLV bounces back, but it should be somewhat close. I'll take the Rebels, 71-61. My Pick to Click will be Anthony Marshall. Gotta ride the hot hand, plus he'll take pride in matching up on old high school rival Hank Thorns Jr.
To join the in-game conversation, add the #unlvmbb hashtag to your tweets, or give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene. Talk to you shortly after tip-off.