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Ugly scenario sparks Rebels basketball in easy victory against Air Force

A technical foul on Brice Massamba fired up the Rebels, who soon after put the game out of reach in a 68-58 victory


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Brice Massamba is restrained by teammates as he walks towards the Air Force bench during their game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. Massamba received a technical foul for his actions. UNLV won the game 68-58.

UNLV extends home winning streak

KSNV coverage of UNLV's victory against Air Force, Feb. 25, 2012.

UNLV vs. Air Force Feb. 25 2012

UNLV forward Brice Massamba shoots over Air Force forward Justin Hammonds during their game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. UNLV won the game 68-58. Launch slideshow »

As far as sources of motivation go, Dave Rice would probably prefer it come from a situation that doesn’t involve his center looking like he’s ready to fight anybody in the Mack not wearing red and white. If that’s what it takes, though, then just ride the wave.

No. 21 UNLV was never in danger of losing to Air Force in Saturday’s 68-58 victory. The Rebels (24-6, 8-4) took a 12-point lead with a little less than eight minutes to play in the first half and the Falcons (13-13, 3-9) never got closer than 10 for the rest of the game. But as the second half wore on, an already ugly game continued to muddle along.

With 7:46 remaining and UNLV leading 50-39, the teams had already combined for 40 turnovers. Shortly thereafter, the Rebels found a spark.

With about seven minutes left, Air Force’s Chase Kammerer tripped UNLV’s Brice Massamba under the Falcons’ basket while the rest of the players hustled to the other end of the court. Kammerer was whistled for a foul, but Massamba took offense to something he heard from the Air Force bench, getting in the face of Kammerer and then, while being restrained, trying to go and confront the other Falcons. After conferring, the referees called Massamba for a technical foul.

Massamba wouldn’t say what he heard, but it clearly fired him up enough to take on all comers.

That’s kind of how the rest of the Rebels felt, too.

“The thing that I was most proud of them was that they had Brice’s back,” Rice said. “… Our guys responded and played as hard and as together as we had all day.”

After Air Force hit both of the technical fouls, UNLV went on a 7-0 run in under a minute, capped by an Oscar Bellfield 3-pointer, that put the Rebels ahead by 17.

The emotion in the building changed a bit after Massamba went to the bench following the technical, his fourth personal of the game. Again, UNLV never looked to be in danger here. But that shift brought out some fire that had been buried under turnovers and half-court sets for most of the second half.

“It definitively hyped us up,” sophomore forward Mike Moser said.

Moser finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and six steals. Senior small forward Chace Stanback led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds.

Stanback, who was wearing a little bit different type of brace on his injured right knee, scored the first points of the game with a 3-pointer. It was the 11th time this season that he’s taken UNLV’s first or second shot of the game, and as evidenced over and over this season, he’s extremely effective when he gets going early in games.

Junior guard Anthony Marshall finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. He also had six turnovers, as did Stanback.

UNLV commits more turnovers than most teams because of the pace at which it wants to play, but 21 is too many no matter how you’re trying to play. Rice said that a lot of them on Saturday were the result of too many passes in transition. As far as turnovers go, that’s better than sitting still and getting the ball stolen.

Still, that’s one of the only negatives UNLV can take away from the game.

The Rebels did their part, and thanks to New Mexico's loss at TCU, UNLV is once again in first place and in control of its own destiny. And now they have one more chance to get things right on the road in conference play.

Try that for motivation.

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

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  1. Now if we could just bottle up that kind of motivation and use it on the road...

  2. 21 turnovers... they kept trying to get the TPN lob dunk, and turned the ball over at least 6-8 times on stupid plays. This should have been a 40 point win the way Air Force was playing.

  3. I'll sum up all the comments for you guys so you don't have to read any of them: "Blah Blah we won but we still suck, my life has no meaning, wah waah waaaaah".

    You're welcome :)

  4. Unlv-123,

    I could care less who your snark was aimed at but I feel the need to reply, since you and I disagreed about football and now you blithely discount anybody who dare writes about basketball.

    I think you are the one whose life is lacking in meaning. I am passionate about many things, with UNLV being one of them. If you think that last night's game was a stellar outing then you need to seriously evaluate your penchant for mediocrity.

    True, we won, and even truer, we were sloppy. Our next game is against a gritty opponent in their house. The Mtn West has proven this year that home court means something. I want our Rebels to go in playing solid defense AND solid offense with crisp passing AND I want them to play heads up ball while minimizing their desire to crank up the highlight reel.

    You're welcome :)

  5. "....penchant for mediocrity.

    True, we won, and even truer, we were sloppy. Our next game is against a gritty opponent in their house. The Mtn West has proven this year that home court means something. I want our Rebels to go in playing solid defense AND solid offense with crisp passing AND I want them to play heads up ball while minimizing their desire to crank up the highlight reel."

    Perfectly said!! Homers always point to negativity instead of looking at ways to improve and motivate our team's performance....

    You can't improve and be a champion if you can't admit your team mistakes and work on them. Complacency is a recipe for disaster.

  6. "Junior small forward Chace Stanback led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds"

    Chace was fantastic, as he was last game. But please make a correction, Chace is a senior.

  7. Need to take care of the ball better (namely Anthony Marshall and Mike Moser...)! I realize that they are going to have a few more turnovers because of the speed they play but they were able to take care of it against SDSU. They are giving points away and need to shore it up if they plan on winning at CSU or in the NCAA tourn.

    Last four games avg. turnovers/game:
    Marshall 4.5 (35 mins)
    Moser 3.5 (34 mins)
    Smith 1.25 (6 mins)

    SDSU game:
    Marshall 1 (35 mins)
    Moser 1 (36 mins)
    Smith 0 (6 mins)

  8. I watched parts of the game and I did see the incident that led to the technical foul. Brice Massamba is very lucky he just received a tech for on closer review it is obvious he intentionally kicked the Air Force player who was on the ground. The best view is from the baseline cam and if the coach does nothing the thuggery and out of control behavior in basketball will continue. Not just anger management classes either.

  9. So we got the T....then suddenly we are up in their grills on the defensive end playing with an energy we didnt possess for the previous 10 mins. That kind of effort on that end should be there EVERYTIME down the floor.

    I am a big Rice supporter and love his offensive principles...and its obvious his decision making/substitution pattern is tweaked more towards offense since he does alot by "feel"....but when we have a lead I'd like to see him reverse that and hook people who arent defending at the highest level possible.

    'Sometimes' we are all over the ball & denying the first pass ala Tark's #1 def principle back in the day...and its 99.9% the reason we got the lead because this team's D dictates its offense. But then once we get 'comfortable' you can see us going thru the motions defensively & taking risks we normally wouldnt. Then we get sloppy on both ends and squander the lead. That cant happen. There needs to be one def standard and he must be uncompromising in enforcing it ESPECIALLY when we have a lead.

    They know they wont get the hook for a bad shot...but they should also know that only max effort & smart play on defense...ala Tark... will be acceptable for the full 40 mins.

    Otherwise, I got no complaints.

  10. "Perfectly said!! Homers always point to negativity instead of looking at ways to improve and motivate our team's performance...."

    Sinatra, your posts, positive or negative, do not motivate the UNLV basketball team.

    "You can't improve and be a champion if you can't admit your team mistakes and work on them. Complacency is a recipe for disaster."

    Sinatra, you don't play, you can't improve the UNLV basketball team.

  11. Bigfish, don't think for a minute that UNLV players don't read the comments posted on these boards, and I'm sure you are smart enough to realize that some of the negative crap they read does get into their heads. Of course that could affect their game. They're human.

  12. Heretic,

    Apparently my comment was meant for you. What I understand, and what you apparently don't, is that your anonymous demand for a college basketball team to exceed your own unrealistic expectations is probably one of the most ludicrous things imaginable. If you were on the court with the players than I MIGHT understand your passion for pointing out the negative, but you're not even in direct contact with the players, let alone on the team.

    Sure, you have the right to say whatever you want on the Internet, but I just hope you realize that you, and people like you, have no possibility of affecting positive change with your words. If that was truly your goal then we would see words of positive support, something that 20 year olds playing a game in front of 15,000 people could really use.

    You can argue that we shouldn't "baby" the players and that they need negative motivation, but I think that's why the players have coaches; people who actually understand the team and the game of basketball.

    I think you might have mistaken your having a "passion" for the Rebels, with an unhealthy vicarious obsession.

  13. UNLV-123, Change your name to "mediocrity-321" it fits your mentality better.

    If you really think that criticism is a destructive force to a college athlete then you have been pampered way too much. I want UNLV's teams to strive for greatness, not be poster children for the "good effort" hall of fame.

    You're right, demanding hard work and focus are concepts just too far out of reach for the college athlete. Maybe we should just demand they learn; "Do you want fries with that?"


  14. I would be very surprised if any current player reads or cares about what a bunch of has-beens, wanna-bees, and never-will-bees, (myself included) post on a local paper web site. I think these college students are a little more focused on, the season, school, girls, and not necessarily in that order. They have coaches and parents that I'm sure demand plenty of hard work and focus. Let's not be pretentious.

  15. Bigfish, the argument people are trying to have, but being shut out on by the myopic defenders of anything Dave Rice, is regarding the coaching, not the players. And yes, it DOES have an impact when the fanbase/alumni base makes enough noise. If there is enough pressure on the AD to make changes from that group, changes will be made.

    However at UNLV we have a group of fans that are satisfied with mediocrity in all sports, and literally jump out of their skin to defend it. The hoops program is doing better, but you clowns act as if Rice is the only coach on gods green earth that can succeed at UNLV and do the same job (or better) with this group of kids he INHERITED. Talk about myopic.

    Look at what all the excuse making UNLV 'fans' have done to the football program by accepting their annual fate. Basketball at UNLV can survive on auto-pilot, the fact that more fans/alums aren't literally foaming at the mouth at what Livengood & Hauck have done to our football program, is hard to believe. We get what we ask for. And fans can make a difference if they cared enough.

  16. Really JahReb are you calling for Coach Rice's job at this point? He is one of the top candidates for National Coach of the Year in his 1st year. Talk about myopic.

  17. http://www.lvrj.com/sports/marshall-reac...

    The above is an article in the LVRJ on Feb 13. In it Dave Rice said, "When fans react as some do, it doesn't help anything. It doesn't help our current players and it certainly doesn't help with recruiting."

    'Marshall wasn't the only UNLV player whose Twitter account was blasted with rude comments following the Wyoming loss, but is by far the team's most active of social networking athletes. He immediately took blame for the defeat and even thanked those who sent along tweets of profanity, adopting a kill-them-with-kindness approach while even retweeting many of the negative arrows sent his way. "You have in the back of your mind that if they were truly fans, that stuff wouldn't come out," Marshall said. "I understand people react emotionally. Some guys wouldn't reply, or just delete their Twitter account. I use it as motivation. It fuels me to get better...." then at the end of the article, "....I'm sure if we win today, everybody will be back behind us. But it doesn't mean you don't make those mental notes about who wasn't in the tougher times." '

    Again....anybody who thinks these kids don't read this crap, and that it doesn't get into their heads, is out of touch with reality. No matter how much they may try to use it as motivation, it does affect them, often negatively. For those of you who think that those of us who do not "criticize" are myopic and satisfied with mediocrity, you couldn't be more wrong. The players and coaches do not need you to point out their mistakes, or that they should have been better at this and been better at that...they ALREADY KNOW IT! These kids get more props from opposing coaches and players, and for that matter, from other teams' fans, than they do from alot of their own fan base, and that is just sad.

  18. Thank God there are other fans out there who don't want mediocrity for our team....

    In the meantime, it's fun watching the homers defend their actions while telling the rest of us that our comments don't matter and that we're not "real fans"....it's extremely comical.

    JahReb's point on Rice is spot-on....anyone could have achieved this record with the team he inherited...anyone.

    We gave up searching for a real coach because we fell in love with an unproven, former benchwarmer for Tark's championship team who can't recruit the best player in his own backyard, coached by his own Brother!

  19. Finish this sentence:

    After a tough loss at TCU, when the UNLV basketball players returned home they wanted to...

    A. get to the LV Sun web site to see what Sinatra711 posted about their performance.

    B. get into the gym and work on their game

    C. get la*d

    I agree with JahReb about the administration hearing from the fan base and I used to rant about Kruger and the former A.D and Ryan Green and the rest of the spineless local media after a few beers, and Sinatra is right about Rice being an unproven coach. UNLV athletics has, in the past, accepted a culture of mediocrity. But, I think Rice is doing a relatively good job as a rookie coach and I do not believe the team would be where they are today with Kruger. I think right now it's best to enjoy the games and be optimistic about the future of the program. They are not going to win the national championship this year, but the sweet 16 is a real possibility. And I have heard a very encouraging rumor about Shabaz Mohamed, but I don't know weather to believe it or not. Has anyone else heard anything?