Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 | 9:06 p.m.
The Rebels will be talking about this moment for a long time. With about two minutes left in their 89-57 victory at Cal State Bakersfield, reserve forward Karam Mashour drove along the baseline, leapt from behind the free-throw lane and posterized 6-foot-10 monster center Andre Jackson. Considering the source and the reaction, it's probably the team's single-play highlight of the year.
The starters love these games for the opportunity it affords the younger players. And that's exactly what they had in mind.
UNLV exploded in the second half, their MO all season, and destroyed any hope the Roadrunners still had. This was the type of game the Rebels (16-2) were looking for heading into a nine-day break before opening conference play at San Diego State on Jan. 14.
They don't know quite how to explain it, but UNLV is just better in the second half. That has certainly been the case at Cal State Bakersfield, where the Rebels now have a 73-41 lead with 7:11 remaining.
Mike Moser has quietly piled up a double-double (18 points and 11 rebounds) — his eighth of the season — and several role players are making the most of their extra court time. Justin Hawkins has 14 points, Quintrell Thomas has eight points and three blocks and point guard Oscar Bellfield, who usually defers, has 13 points and five assists.
Coming into the game, UNLV wanted to play fast and get out healthy. The latter looked to be in doubt when Carlos Lopez limped off the court, but he returned a short time later and appears to be fine. Now it's just about finishing strong.
UNLV starts second half with 16-2 run, opening a 54-29 lead
UNLV opened the second half with a 16-2 run, all but shutting the door on Cal State Bakersfield's hopes for an upset as the Rebels lead 54-29 with 15:40 remaining.
The Rebels did it with quick passing and 3-pointers. Chace Stanback hit his first shot of the game, but Oscar Bellfield was really the catalyst for the run. He created turnovers and then hustled down to finish possessions at the other end.
Quintrell Thomas is on the bench with three fouls, so Carlos Lopez, pending his own foul situation, will get most of the minutes at center for the rest of the game.
UNLV leads 38-27 at halftime against Cal State Bakersfield
Fouls slowed down UNLV's white-hot pace, but they didn't keep the Rebels from taking a 38-27 lead at halftime. Mike Moser leads the Rebels with 11 points while Quintrell Thomas has scored eight.
Both teams have gotten a bit testy with the referees. Bakersfield center Andre Jackson has a technical, and coach Rod Barnes has been warned for leaving the coaches box on the sideline. For the Rebels, one of the refs followed Carlos Lopez to the huddle, upset with him for not picking up a loose ball before it rolled away. At coach Dave Rice's urging, Lopez apologized to the ref and that appears to be a non-issue moving forward.
Chace Stanback has cooled off significantly, shooting 0-for-5, but he's leading the Rebels with five rebounds and two steals. Oscar Bellfield hit the game's first bucket but doesn't have a made shot since.
In the second half, the Rebels need to limit Stephon Carter, who has 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The bigs also need to avoid foul trouble as Rice really doesn't want to have to play Brice Massamba (concussion-like symptoms).
Rebels lead 28-21 at Cal State Bakersfield midway through 1st half
UNLV is playing its preferred style of game so far and it's resulted in a 28-21 lead with 6:40 left in the first half.
Mike Moser leads the Rebels with nine points while CSUB's Stephon Carter is leading all scorers with 10 points. UNLV is getting out in transition and posting up the smaller Roadrunner players at will. Their only issues are on defense, where CSUB has been able to get to penetrate toward the rim and find open outside shooters.
That won't sit well with coach Dave Rice, who's surely got that on the top of his list for halftime adjustments.
Rebels jump out to an early 9-6 lead at Cal State Bakersfield
Mike Moser has a 3-pointer and a dunk, leading all scorers with five points as UNLV takes a 9-6 lead with 14:54 left in the first half.
On one possession, Oscar Bellfield passed up a couple of open 3-pointers and then committed a turnover, drawing a foot slam from coach Dave Rice. But besides that it's smooth sailing for the Rebels in the opening minutes.
Rebels should outpace Roadrunners
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The UNLV basketball team will want to take time to enjoy the tempo of today’s road game at Cal State-Bakersfield (7-8). Because after tonight, it’s nine days until the Rebels' next game and probably a lot more until they can get out and really run.
UNLV coach Dave Rice said the Roadrunners like to play a quick, transition-based game. That’s the type of game the Rebels (15-2) turn into routs, and it’s exactly the style that Mountain West opponents are going to try to take away.
Beginning Jan. 14 at San Diego State, No. 17 UNLV’s going to be dealing with more familiar opponents who want to force the Rebels to beat them in a half-court game.
So enjoy tonight.
The Roadrunners are playing better lately — including a should-be victory turned 73-72 loss to New Mexico State on Monday — but they can’t match UNLV athletically at any position. Five-foot-11 guard Issiah Grayson leads the team with 11.1 points per game, followed by 6-3 guard Stephon Carter’s 10.3 points per game.
That won’t be enough to counter UNLV senior small forward Chace Stanback, who is 21-of-29 behind the three-point line in the last three games. Stanback’s 3-point shooting percentage (50) leads the nation, and sophomore forward Mike Moser ranks 10th in the country in rebounds per game (11.1).
The Rebels’ focus for tonight’s game — besides running to their hearts' content — should be to avoid the mistakes that nearly cost them a victory at Hawaii. Moser said foul trouble — which forced UNLV to play soft interior defense — and injuries became distractions during the game. Improvement would be playing with the same intensity no matter what’s going on in and around the game.
It would also help if everyone left the game healthy. Senior center Brice Massamba, who left the Hawaii game with concussion-like symptoms, traveled with the team to Bakersfield and is available for tonight’s game only in an emergency situation.
In this case, an emergency basically means that all of the Rebels’ other bigs foul out. With nine days before their next game, it makes sense to let Massamba rest and watch this one from the bench.
It’s just too bad he’ll miss out on the fun.
Bern’s prediction: UNLV struggled offensively in the opening minutes at Hawaii, but without the distractions of a tropical island, I don’t envision any such problems tonight. Stanback will probably take the first shot, and if he hits a couple of baskets early, he’s likely to score at least 20 points. And with their increase in playing time, I see centers Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas combining for 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Rebels comfortably wrap up their non-conference season. UNLV 92, Cal State Bakersfield 71.