unlv basketball:

Rebels will face a new challenge against a patient Cal Poly squad


Sam Morris

UNLV coach Dave Rice talks with guard Anthony Marshall during their game against Canisius Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 95-70.

UNLV basketball prepares for games

KSNV coverage of the UNLV basketball team ready for upcoming games, Nov. 21, 2011.

This game will be played at a different pace.

When the UNLV basketball team hosts Cal Poly Tuesday in its second-round game of the Las Vegas Invitational, don’t expect the action to be as fast-paced as the Rebels’ 92-55 victory two days ago against Morgan State.

Cal Poly is overly patient on the offensive end and won’t settle for taking a rushed shot. The Mustangs definitely won’t attempt to turn the game into a track meet — a trap Morgan State fell into Sunday, when the Rebels’ transition offensive produced several open looks and easy baskets.

Cal Poly will be a step-up in competition for UNLV, which has opened the season with four straight wins, victories by an average of 23 points. Cal Poly last Saturday limited USC to four points in the final 10 minutes of a 42-36 win — so, yes, they won’t be pushing the tempo.

“They are very, very patient and disciplined on offense. They put a real premium on getting defensive stops,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “We will have to be really, really disciplined in terms of how we run our offense and be selective with our shooting. We are still going to push the ball, but it always starts with defensive stops.”

Defensively, UNLV forced Morgan State into 23 turnovers with an aggressive and active approach, turning the miscues into 29 points on the fast break. It likely won’t be the same story against Cal Poly, with UNLV having to be disciplined instead of going for a quick steal.

“We don’t change anything that we do regardless of the opponent,” Rice said. “But I think the one thing we need to do is be really patient defensively. Sometimes, when teams are a little bit more conservative on the offensive end, (and) because we want to get out and run, sometimes we get a little inpatient and try to steal the ball or run through passing lanes. It is just really important for us to maintain our defensive discipline and just make teams take contested two-point shots and limit it to one shot.”

UNLV has scored more than 90 points in its last two games in becoming one of the nation’s most prolific offensive teams. They are averaging a nation-best 23.3 assists per game, recording an assist on 75-percent of their field goals — a remarkable feat.

The Rebels are led by sophomore forward Mike Moser, who also leads the nation in rebounds with 14.3 boards per game and on Monday was named the Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Week. Moser also leads UNLV in scoring, with 16.3 points per game.

“I think that not only are his numbers good, but I just think he is a guy that makes his teammates better,” Rice said of Moser. “He makes us really hard to guard. His ability to get defensive rebounds and, on occasion, push the ball in transition really puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”

In addition to Moser, three others are averaging double figures in points — Justin Hawkins (14.3 points per game), Chace Stanback (14) and Oscar Bellfield (12.3). Anthony Marshall is 11th nationally with 7.3 assists per game. Only time will tell if those numbers will continue when the schedule gets tougher later in the week.

“The fact we have made progress from game to game gets us ready for the stretch that is coming up,” Rice said.

The tournament continues Friday and Saturday at the Orleans Arena with UNLV playing USC at 5 p.m. Friday. They could potentially play Saturday against top-ranked North Carolina. There are roughly 1,000 tickets remaining at the Orleans Arena’s 7,500-seat arena.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Re-bels!

  2. Has a coach ever been undefeated in his first year at a school??? It could happen.

  3. I'll tell you what with the team Kruger left, and of course the recruiting Dave is going to have gaudy record as a coach in 5 years, something like 130-24

  4. Yeah, and pass Mike Krzyzewski in 20 years.

  5. cheap LVI tix on Craigslist....pack the Orleans!!!

  6. I have season seats and I'm very excited about this year. However, when I think about the potential for next year, I can't help but think this team has Final Four potential.

  7. This is not a tough test for the Rebs, another blow out tonight. No way Cal Poly controls the tempo of this game. Moser will dominate again....

  8. "Cal Poly will be a step-up in competition for UNLV, which has opened the season with four straight wins, victories by an average of 23 points." I think Ray needs a new copy editor lol. Cal Poly is the subject of that sentence if I'm not mistaken.

    Not sure it will be a track meet again, but I think UNLV wins easy. Cal Poly is a very good rebounding team so I think the fast breaks might be a little more scarce tonight. Still Rebels by double digits