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UNLV’s first practice at Mendenhall Center a chance to move past ‘disgusting’ loss

Rebels are fortunate Saturday’s game at New Mexico gives them another chance at first place, and they’re working to take advantage of it



UNLV ‘s Mike Moser (43) controls the ball ahead of TCU’s J.R. Cadot, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mendenhall Center Opening

The Joel Anthony weight room is seen during the grand opening of UNLV's new basketball practice facility, the $11.7 million Mendenhall Center, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Rebels practice in new center

KSNV coverage of UNLV Rebels getting ready to face New Mexico this weekend, Feb. 16, 2012.

UNLV’s first practice in the Mendenhall Center was also one of its most difficult of the year.

Credit that to TCU.

Two days after the Rebels’ most frustrating loss of the season, they got back on the court, looking to put that debacle behind them and prepare for Saturday’s 10 a.m. tipoff at New Mexico (21-4, 7-2) on CBS. Because of the first-place Lobos’ victory at San Diego State on Wednesday night, a UNLV victory on Saturday would put the Rebels back in first with the tiebreaker in their back pocket.

Sophomore forward Mike Moser left Thursday’s practice dripping with sweat more than he often does at the end of games. After watching the tape of Tuesday’s 102-97 overtime loss at TCU, Moser and the Rebels (22-5, 6-3) didn’t lack for motivation.

“It was real disgusting, lazy,” Moser said. “We just had the wrong attitude once we had a big lead. … I guess we thought we were better than we were for a little bit, thought we didn’t have to play anymore.”

UNLV led by as much as 18 points in the second half and by 15 with just less than 10 minutes to play.

“We had the game won,” Moser said. “It was all said and done in our mind.”

That mentality led to their downfall. The Horned Frogs’ Hank Thorns, a Las Vegas native, led the comeback with a career-high 32 points and TCU outworked UNLV for 19 offensive rebounds.

“It’s the most disappointed that I’ve been this year in terms of our effort, and we have a stat to prove it,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “We all shared in giving up 19 offensive rebounds, from the coaching staff to the players.”

Just a couple more defensive rebounds and UNLV probably would have survived. Of course, you could also say just a couple more missed shots from Thorns or a couple more Rebels making baskets would have made the difference.

The bottom line is that UNLV didn’t play good enough defense to win.

“We’ve always been able to rely on our defense and rebounding,” junior forward Quintrell Thomas said. “I would consider that equivalent to a running game in football because that’s one thing that you can always count on. But when we didn’t have that going and we weren’t making shots, and put on top of that Hank Thorns hitting the 3s that he made — it was just a perfect storm.”

For much of the game, making shots wasn’t a problem for UNLV. At one point in the second half, the Rebels were shooting better than 70 percent from the field, and they finished at 53 percent.

UNLV averages the eighth-most points in the country (80.1), so offensive success is rarely an issue, and after digesting the loss, Rice said that may have been part of the reason for its downfall.

“One of the dangers for us is that we have become very good offensively, and sometimes the mistake we can make … is that we think we can go into games and outscore people,” Rice said. “Sometimes our offense comes so easy that we forget about the defensive end.”

They didn’t forget about it at Mendenhall. Moser estimated that the up-tempo practice consisted of about 50 percent defense, 40 percent rebounding, and the other 10 percent was for running. There was certainly some offense worked in there, but the point was clear: UNLV has to improve in those areas. The Rebels’ defense ignites their offense, and rebounding controls games. They need to excel in both to have a chance on Saturday.

The new surroundings gave a feeling of a new beginning, which matches the team’s new opportunity to reclaim first place. The sweat on the ground gave a feeling of determination, which matches their mentality.

UNLV has yet another chance to control the Mountain West, and there’s only one way to do that and close the book on the Rebels’ nightmare at TCU.

“You go and beat New Mexico,” Moser said.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Look how empty that stadium is. There's no moving past it. Sadly, this is where UNLVs season officially implodes. This is as bad as losing to a 7-23 CSU team of the 08-09 season. Unlv will not recover and get bashed the rest of the way. Just a thought of realism for the delusionals out there. Move on. Next year is the year!

  2. ^Idiot. This loss is supposed to end our season? This is exactly what the Rebels needed. A tough loss like that. Rebels will bounce back Saturday.

  3. Lmao not a chance they have a shot at New Mexico! Are you kidding me?! They lost at TCU! Had trouble at AF and Boise and lost to miserable Wyoming who got smacked by air force in Laramie! Don't be a fool!!!

  4. Even if we don't win Saturday, I'm not sure why you think the whole season is imploding. We will still win out at home. At worst, we finish with 5 losses in conference, which isn't great, but its hardly a death sentence. The MWC tournament is still at The Mack, last time I checked, where we are undefeated and have only played 2 close games.

    I guess if we do lose on Saturday, we know who is going to be the first one on here screaming "I told you so." What a clown!

  5. This is a great seaosn for UNLV. Some people will find anything to complain about, with their arrogant sideline analysis. How comfy it must be to proclaim and prognosticate from your La-Z-Boy!

    Even if they lose every game remaining, I'm happy with they have acomplished and with what's to come.

    Go Rebels!

  6. Rebels will still make the tourney, but at a seed they can easily lose the first game. Kids have no heart. And when they get demolished Saturday, and beaten by Boise next Wednesday, bazz commits to UK.

  7. Wow, some people have no basketball IQ (SDSU2Wins71Years)...

  8. Unfortunately, the loss in Ft. Worth will affect rankings in the short term, but SDSU's loss to New Mexico gives the Rebs a chance to atone and draw back even with a win in Albuquerque...Thanks for getting spanked at home, Aztecs!

    The Rebels will have to go into survival mode at New Mexico. The Lobos are by far the most important thing here in Albuquerque and the UNM-UNLV game has been highly-anticipated since the schedule came out last summer. Add to that, this will be the first-ever MWC game to be televised on network television. It's quite a frenzied atmosphere here.

    Nonetheless, if the Rebels circle the wagons (and get strong inside play from all three big men), they should be OK.

    Go Rebs!

  9. Wow. I understand the disappointment from losing to TCU, but this is the same team that beat SDSU, and New Mexico (convincingly) at the T&M.

    Don't forget we beat a very good UNC and Illinois. Remember that "bad loss" to Wichita State? Yeah, they're ranked in the AP. We have only 2 "bad" losses on our resume.

    UNLV still has a chance to be co-conference champions, but I believe they will have to win out from here to do it.

    Stop being such a Debbie Downer. I'm excited to see them go out and play fire tomorrow at the pit.


  10. hedon58 - This is not the first MWC game broadcast on national television. BYU and San Diego State were broadcast on CBS last year.

  11. great strategy Legolas. Keep posting stupid comments and maybe one day you'll be right.

  12. TCU was a bad loss, we all know that. The season isn't over though, and UNLV will make the tournament. I hate losing conference games, who doesn't, but it can happen to any team. UNLV needs to come out with some fire in their eyes on saturday for sure. If they come out flat or get flat at any time, there isn't gonna be a chance to make it up. This game has been circled on many calendars since the schedule was released. It might decide who wins out the conference.

  13. It can be tough to be positive when you look at what the Rebs are facing. But, that win by UNM at SDSU was huge for us. All we can ask for is that our boys have a chance to get back in the race. Do I think it is likely that they will go in and beat UNM at the Pit, no, but it is possible. We certainly have the talent and if we do have one thing going for us, it is that I do not think it is possible to play every road game like crap. Law of averages says we have to play at least one good game on the road! Runnin' Rebels!

  14. Just an FYI. We've won in each of our last two trips to The Pit.

  15. MikeLange we can look at that 2 ways. Number 1- we are due for a loss!! Or number 2- we have their number!! I'm hoping we have their number, but if you look at the law of averages, can we beat them 3 times in a row at the pit?? Has anyone ever done that to them?

  16. Apparently, not all of CBS is broadcasting the game. In the NW they have a garbage game on with UCLA and St. Johns. Ugh.

  17. @sportsarefun - You make valid points, but it shows that the members of this team have gone into The Pit and won games before. I would argue that the way this team plays and feeds off the crowds' energy, going into a hostile arena like The Pit or Viejas is probably better than going into the apathetic arenas of TCU, Wyoming, etc...

    I'm not saying we are going to go in and win and I completely understand why the Lobos are favored in this game, but it would not shock me if the Rebels go in there and steal this one.

  18. No question this is the biggest game of the year and if the Rebels can't bring up their intensity and mental fortitude for this one, I'd be shocked. If the Rebels play well and still lose, I'm OK with that. I just want to see the effort that we haven't seen in the last several road games.

    I know some of you would say that the North Carolina game was the biggest game of the year, but this one has now surpassed it. Not only is it on CBS, not only is it for a tie of first place in the conference (with the Rebels owning the tiebreaker), but it also immediately follows the worst loss of the year. In fact, the North Carolina game is probably down to third in terms of importance because the recent win against San Diego St. was an absolute must win game.

    The thing I'm completely baffled by with this team is that the Rebels play so much better defense at home. We all know that teams play better offensively at home, but defense should be a constant no matter where you're playing. Hopefully, we will see the same defense against the Lobos that we saw at the Thomas & Mack, and then may the best team win. Go Rebels!