Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 | 1:35 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer break down the UNLV basketball team's victory against Colorado State on Feb. 1, 2012.
- Instant Analysis: Giving up 11 straight points could have spelled disaster for UNLV basketball
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 82, Colorado State 63
- Oscar Bellfield, Chace Stanback score 16 apiece in 82-63 win against Colorado State
- Former UNLV basketball coach Charlie Spoonhour dies after battle with lung disease
- Mike Moser’s gritty performances earn the sophomore league player of the week honors
- Rebels ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll, No. 13 by the coaches
- UNLV using embarrassing home loss last year as fuel against Colorado State
- UNLV basketball in the driver’s seat after an ugly but effective week
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
None of Oscar Bellfield's shots in Wednesday’s 82-63 victory against Colorado State were as important as the ones he buried in overtime last week. Yet, the fact that he hit so many and poured in 16 points — his highest total since Nov. 26 — was a big step forward as UNLV’s senior point guard continues to put a slump behind him.
“Oscar needed it for Oscar,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “As his coach, I didn’t need it because I’ve never lost confidence in Oscar. That’s why I continue to play him the minutes that I play him because I know how important he is to our team.”
Bellfield and senior small forward Chace Stanback each scored 16 and combined for nine assists. Sophomore forward Mike Moser and junior guard Anthony Marshall each scored 13 points, with Moser adding eight rebounds and Marshall dishing out seven assists.
The final score wasn’t close but Colorado State (14-7, 3-3) challenged No. 11 UNLV (21-1, 5-1) at several points in the game.
The Rams led by as much as seven in the first half, and they started the second half on an 11-0 run, cutting a 13-point deficit to two.
UNLV’s four leading scorers will get most of the credit for the team’s counters, but two guards off the bench deserve it as much as anybody.
About seven minutes into the first half, sophomore Reggie Smith entered the game with UNLV trailing by seven and made the play that Rice said turned the game around.
“We’re down 19-12, he goes in the game, he makes a dribble-penetration move and he finds Chace Stanback in the corner for a 3,” Rice said. “It seemed like that gave us confidence.”
Starting with that bucket, UNLV outscored Colorado State 36-16 leading into halftime. Considering the Rebels’ second-half prowess, it seemed that that 13-point lead may as well have been 30.
The Rams had other plans, hitting 4-of-8 to open the half and cutting their deficit to 48-46. Less than two minutes into the half, Rice called a timeout.
“We really came out flat in the second half,” junior guard Justin Hawkins said. “When Coach called that timeout he really said it’s time for us to turn it on because we didn’t want to make this a game.”
A couple of minutes later, Rice put Hawkins in the lineup, and for the rest of the game Colorado State shot just 30.4 percent from the field.
Hawkins capped UNLV’s responding 11-0 run with a circus reverse layup that he said he was just trying to put close to the rim. Consider it a reward for the hustle he put into his defense and diving after every loose ball.
“My teammates have really been on me for the past five, six games, saying I’m not really the same person on the defensive end,” Hawkins said. “Especially Mike, who’s like ‘You haven’t really been getting steals, haven’t been getting stops on defense.’ ”
Hawkins’ rose to Moser’s challenge Wednesday. Even though he finished with just two steals, Hawkins affected countless Colorado State possessions.
Hawkins and Smith combined for just nine points, four rebounds and three assists. But in crucial stretches they were as important as anyone on the court.
“Justin and Reggie came off the bench and brought a lot of energy,” Bellfield said. “That turned us up and helped us get on their level.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise in Wednesday’s game was the Rams’ willingness to run. Colorado State attempted seven more shots than its season average and played into UNLV’s strength rather than trying to keep the pace slow.
Moser said the Rebels are pleasantly surprised anytime an opponent tries to keep up with them.
“They pushed it probably just as much as we did,” Moser said. “I feel like if teams want to really do that, then they’re going to be in for a long night.”
Bellfield is familiar with those, a 1-for-12 shooting performance at San Diego State being chief among them.
His role will never be in jeopardy, but it doesn’t hurt to have a 6-for-13 night to put an extra bounce in Bellfield’s step.
“I know Oscar has been a little bit frustrated there for a stretch with the way he shot the ball, but no one put more time in and Oscar remained confident,” Rice said. “He was so big in our success last week and he continued it this week.”