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unlv basketball:

Defensive effort against Nevada-Reno gives Rebels something to build on

UNLV has been solid defensively to open the season, holding Wolf Pack to 32 percent shooting


Sam Morris

UNLV forward Carlos Lopez guards Nevada-Reno forward Dario Hunt during their game Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV was victorious 71-67

College basketball: UNLV vs. UNR

KSNV coverage of the UNLV basketball taking on UNR, Nov. 14, 2011.

UNLV basketball tops Nevada-Reno, 71-67

UNLV forward Mike Moser swats the ball away from Nevada-Reno forward Dario Hunt during their game Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

Give credit to the UNLV basketball team’s defense for this victory.

While first-year coach Dave Rice’s fast-paced offense has created most of the buzz, his pressure defensive strategies are getting the more noteworthy results.

The Rebels limited visiting Nevada-Reno to seven first-half field goals Monday, holding the Wolf Pack to 32 percent shooting in a 71-67 victory for their second win in four days to open the season.

“Our defense carried us,” Rice said. “That has been a characteristic of this group of guys. It is a group that is committed on the defensive end. We held a really good offensive team to 32 percent from the floor. The bottom line is we will get better offensively, but we can always count on our defense.”

The Rebels had eight blocked shots and six steals in creating several easy-scoring opportunities on the offensive end — well, at least for the game’s first 33 minutes.

In the final seven minutes, UNLV allowed Nevada-Reno several second-chance scoring opportunities, and the Wolf Pack finally found their stroke late in making things interesting.

Guard Deonte Burton showed why he was widely considered the best player in the Western Athletic Conference, draining a fade-away 3-pointer from the corner with about 20 seconds to play to trim the UNLV lead from 18 points with 6:36 remaining to one point, 68-67.

UNLV hits 3-of-4 foul shots in the closing seconds to secure the victory and learn one valuable lesson moving forward: the intensity, both offensively and defensively, has to be sustained for the duration of the game.

Nevada-Reno had only 10 field goals in the initial 32 minutes, but managed to keep the score close at the foul line by making 22-of-34 attempts. In the final eight minutes, however, the Wolf Pack closed by making nine field goals and forcing UNLV to hold on.

“I thought we really showed guts down the stretch and got some good stops,” Rice said.

Justin Hawkins, who had a game-high 28 points last Friday against Grand Canyon in the season opener, led three UNLV players in double figures with 13 points. Chace Stanback returned to the lineup after missing the exhibition game and opener, and scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Oscar Bellfield added 11 points.

Stanback wasted little time getting back into the flow of the game, draining a short jumper on his first touch of the game.

“I was tired of watching them from the sideline,” Stanback half-jokingly said.

Carlos Lopez also returned to the lineup after missing the opener with a sprained ankle, scoring nine points to go along with four blocks and rebounds in an active 18 minutes. Lopez gingerly ran up and down the court and was clearly not at full-pace, but still was a force on the inside in altering shots and giving the Rebels a true big-man presence down low.

Mike Moser, who had 20 rebounds against Grand Canyon, was limited in the second half after picking up a fourth personal foul to finish with 11 rebounds. Lopez stepped in and filled the void.

“I told coach at the beginning of the game (that) if needed me I would be there,” Lopez said.

UNLV, which is still a very much a work in progress offensively, has two days of practice before Thursday hosting Canisius. Monday, they had 10 turnovers and 18 assists for 26 field goals — a sign things are moving in the right direction.

“Different guys stepped up and did a really, really good job,” Rice said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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  1. Lil pumped up and to be expected..... The fouling was also expected but dangggg settle down..... Moser is legit or will be by the time he is done...... Dude is crazy active.

  2. Its going to take time to gel but, I have faith in coach Rice and his awesome staff!

  3. I'm definitely excited about this year's team, but after watching the first two games, I'm still seeing some things that drove me crazy about last year's squad.

    1. Inability to put together two solid halves.
    2. Where's the killer instinct? We were up by 15 in the 2nd half at one point and we let UNR come back and make the game way too close for comfort.
    3. Free throw shooting! Yuck!

    And what's up with all the fairweather fans leaving with 6 minutes left to go?

  4. Same issues as last year- whenever a team plays a zone against us we fold. If I was an opposing coach I would never play man against us.
    Like the improvement of Hawkins- he looks like a totally different player on the offensive end. Wish I could say the same for Marshall....

  5. Would like to see the Rebels compete for better shots in the half court offense. Settling for an Anthony Marshall 3 is flat out lazy, or panic. Neither of which are flattering descriptions.

  6. Rebel's will improve

    Nevada did give them a wake up message

  7. Marshall hasn't seemed to improve at all with his shot. I'm glad we got Reggie Smith in the wings this year in case he doesn't improve.

    Stanback seems to be trying to find his spots in the new offense.

    Thomas is the big enigma. You would think with his size he could score a little bit more. Instead he gets his shot altered or blocked reguraly. He also has rocks for hands.

  8. As a midmajor team the Rebels looked good. They lack talent in a team of role players and it will show once they play the meat of their non conference schedule. The MTN West is a cake walk so the Rebels should make the tournament, but I would not expect to see them to go any further than the round of 32, if they are lucky.

  9. Its early, but I wasn't impressed. Maybe I'm expecting too much with a new system and new staff. I think they should be past the bad shots and sloppy turnovers. Here's what I penetration from the point or wings. That's what opens the defense and creates opportunities. strong power from the post. When you get the ball inside you need to explode up with power. You can't just head fake cuz the defense will collapse on you. Own your space and go up strong to score. Finally, turn up the pressure defensively. Pressure means guarding in his pressure the ball and everyone else denies.

  10. we've got the great prognosticator and the next Rebel head coach. why even play the season?

  11. @Jerry exactly. They all come out of the woodwork when the season begins.

  12. The trolls on the lvsun site are so obvious that I almost wonder if they are planted to just create conversation.. I'll admit that I come to this site more for the comments than for the articles, especially since Greene left for

  13. Man, didnt expect all the negativity here even though we did blow that lead late. But still, we dominated the game for 35 minutes & then they made a run...their first of the game because we were in their grill for's basketball...that happens. It wasnt like we served it up for we made the plays/shots we needed late to get the W. Give Reno credit...they're talented & halfway decent. The Rebels are definitely getting better offensively scheme can see it...pushing the ball, more entries into the post, extra passes, and less dribbling while everybody else stands & watches. THAT is progress. They're not there yet but as long as they keep bringing the D...they'll get there and keep winning too. I am very excited at the possibilities that more reps in this system will bring.

  14. Some of the guys on this site saw a different game than I did. We moved the ball better against a zone than we have for years. As for post presence, I thought Carlos did pretty fair and Brice also had his times. Could we use less 3 point attempts yeah but the Coach covered that in the postgame. Are we going to play in the Final Four? Not in less we get a lot better. I saw some passes for fast break baksets that looked pretty good. Should be a fun season.

  15. This team is only going to get better each game. Moser is a beast although he was off offensively & Lopez has a lot of upside. What kept Reno in this game was the foul calling on the Rebels. This team will be fine they have proven veterans who fit this tempo of play.

  16. wow! was wondering why ryan greene wasnt writing n e more, he is a great writer! first time poster but have been reading these comments for the last two years! I thought Lopez showed amazing signs of athleticism and moser is the top rebounder in the country(Espn stats) as well as not far off the grid for assists.....we are sitting beautiful reb fans hang in there!