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UNLV basketball:

UNLV’s poor shooting and lapse on defense combine for loss at San Diego State

Despite an ugly first half and woeful shooting overall, the Rebels still had a chance until a mistake in the final seconds


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV’s Oscar Bellfield, left, Mike Moser and Brice Massamba (not seen) guard San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin as he takes a last second shot to win the game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. San Diego State won the Mountain West Conference opener 69-67.

UNLV vs. San Diego State 1-14-12

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall heads off the court after the Rebels dropped their Mountain West Conference opener to San Diego State 69-67 Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. Launch slideshow »

SAN DIEGO — In a building that at this point must seem like a haunted house, the No. 12 UNLV basketball team made key mistakes you are supposed to avoid on the road.

The Rebels came out flat. They missed free throws. They failed to give the crowd much reason to sit down.

And yet, despite all of the lapses and mistakes, Saturday's road game still went down to the final possession with No. 22 San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference opener. But even then the Rebels couldn’t get out of their own way.

A defensive miscommunication left San Diego State forward Jamaal Franklin free near the three-point line with about six seconds left. From there he attacked the rim, crossing over UNLV’s Mike Moser in the process, and hit a short leaner for the winning points Saturday in a 69-67 victory at Viejas Arena.

“It came down to one possession,” said UNLV guard Anthony Marshall, who single-handedly kept the Rebels alive in the second half. “… It just so happened the ball bounced their way.”

Less than a minute before his game-winning shot, Franklin was hobbled at the opposite end of the court when he came down awkwardly on an ankle and had to leave the game. He came back in with 37 seconds left and missed a contested shot in the corner.

UNLV, trailing 67-66, brought the ball down and dished it inside to Brice Massamba, who drew a foul under the basket.

In the first half, which was arguably the worst 20 minutes that the Rebels (16-3, 0-1) have played this season, they were hesitant to throw the ball into the post, instead taking, and missing, open shots.

Coach Dave Rice said that was one of the key changes at halftime.

“We put more of an emphasis on throwing the ball in the post, we thought we had an advantage,” Rice said. “We seemed to a be a little tentative in the first half. That’s a credit to San Diego State.”

Massamba shot 3-for-4 in the second half and seemed to solidify himself as the primary center in crunch time. Still, with a chance to put UNLV in the lead on two free throws with 23.6 seconds left, he missed the first one.

Free throws hadn’t been much of an issue to this point in the season. Before Saturday, the team shot 70.8 percent. Against SDSU (15-2, 1-0), though, they hit 11-of-21.

The players said they don’t feel like they play any different against the Aztecs, but their shooting — 35 percent from the field, 30 percent from the three-point line and 52 percent at the free-throw line — suggests otherwise. This is the fourth straight loss in San Diego, the sixth consecutive overall and ninth out of the last 10.

But after the game the Rebels said it was just one loss.

“We made a lot of mental mistakes and just wasn’t able to come back from them,” UNLV’s Chace Stanback said.

Massamba came through with the second free throw, setting up the final possession.

After nearly creating a turnover in the backcourt, UNLV guard Oscar Bellfield hustled back on defense while Thames passed the ball up to Franklin on the right side of the perimeter.

Franklin, with Moser guarding him, then handed the ball off to Thames and set a screen. In that moment, despite every misstep and missed shot, UNLV still had a chance.

But the Rebels made one more mistake.

“If there was a screen, we were supposed to switch it,” Moser said. “Miscommunication and the guy ended up finishing.”

Instead of switching, Moser moving over to defend Thames and Bellfield staying with Franklin, both players trailed Thames.

That left Franklin wide open. Once Thames dished it back to him, Franklin, hobbled ankle and all, drove the lane around a reeling Moser and pulled up for a short shot in front of crashing defenders.

UNLV forward Chace Stanback dunks on San Diego State during their game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. San Diego State won the Mountain West Conference opener 69-67.

UNLV forward Chace Stanback dunks on San Diego State during their game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. San Diego State won the Mountain West Conference opener 69-67.

“I could swear they were going to call a timeout,” Moser said. “That was a heads up play for him to turn the corner like he did.”

The threat of a kick out to Chase Tapley in the corner kept Marshall from being able to provide much help.

“We felt we had a chance to win the game, we were all confident and it just came down to one play,” Marshall said. “We didn’t get the defensive stop at the end.”

Marshall scored a game-high 26 points, including 18 in the second half. He was the only Rebel to score in double digits as Moser and Massamba each scored nine. Moser also had a game-high 12 rebounds.

After scoring just seven points on Saturday, Stanback finished his three-game career at San Diego State shooting 7-of-33.

While the Rebels tried to rely on their depth, the Aztecs played five guys at least 31 minutes. Their two leading scorers, Franklin (24 points) and James Rohan (22) each played all but two minutes.

After the game, Franklin deflected attention to everything that led up to his game-winner.

“There were other things happening other than me making that last shot,” Franklin said. “James Rahon shot the ball really well, Chase did as well, Garrett (Green) with rebounds and Tim (Shelton) took charges as he always does.

“It’s more than that last shot.”

Rice could be saying the same thing to his guys. The mistakes were more than the missed defensive assignment on that last shot.

The good news for UNLV is that if you want to blame the poor outing on either eight days in between games or the Rebels tormented recent history in San Diego, neither of those will be an issue the rest of the way.

The bad news, besides just the loss, is that their leading scorer (Stanback) disappeared in arguably the biggest game of the season. And one player (Marshall) won’t be enough to get a victory against teams like San Diego State. Especially not on the road.

“It hurts a lot,” Marshall said. “… We’re going to keep this in the back of our mind, but at the same time get better. This game is not going to dictate the conference.”

True, but based on their plethora of problems, the notice is out that the conference is not the Rebels’ to lose.

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  1. Godawful Bellfield seriously makes me sick to mya stomach. Never has he ever attempted this many shot s in a game. YOU'RE NOT A SCORING PG! You're there to set the offense and find the open guy! Him Alone, 1-12..cost us the game.

  2. Go Rebels! You'll figure it out. You are the better team.

  3. Considering Home Court advantage is worth about 10 points, UNLV did well. Their mistakes were mostly the kind that get made when you try hard. It might have helped to have played a tougher schedule to get used to close games, but the team has the ability to do fine.

  4. Yeah I'm not worried whatsoever but wow, Oscar has showed up in one, top 25 game since his freshman year. He's been embarrassing in march, and is the main reason how the offense falls apart. He, and coach better figure something out because TCU is no walkover and the barn burning game against. UNM is a week away.

  5. Does this loss mean that the tickets to the Rebels games will be cheaper now? $50.00+ per ticket was out of control.

  6. Although I won't single out a player for individual mistakes, (it is a team effort...and loss) I will go the other way and thank Anthony Marshall for staying home and playing for the Rebels. I saw this post on an ESPN board, which was posted by another San Diego fan, and wanted LV to see it.

    "After the final buzzer (the real final buzzer, after the review and the .03 seconds) four or five UNLV bench players got up and walked straight to the locker room while the rest of the team was shaking hands with the SDSU players. Marshall ran and grabbed each of them and said something like (I'm paraphrasing) "That's not the kind of team we are." And pushed them back on the court to shake hands. A few moments later, when the entire team was headed to the locker room, one of their players shoved over a metal sign or something on his way in. Marshall, without saying a word, turned around and picked the sign back up and put it into place and then kept walking straight to the locker room. Actions speak louder than words."

    A UNLV fan posted, "That's the best example of a team leader." I couldn't agree more.

    Thanks again, Anthony, and one more little thing: YOU PLAYED AN AWESOME GAME YESTERDAY!

  7. Aztecs won this time, but hopefully, there will be at least 2 more SDSU/UNLV games this season. It is always fun watching the Aztecs and Runnin' Rebels go at it. Rahon is money in the bank from 3, coming off a screen. And how about Franklin??? Go Aztecs!!!!!!!

  8. See what happens when we overhype our team...they get complacent and lose games. I wish we'd stop congratulating them for doing nothing and wait until we actually accomplish something.

  9. Anthony Marshall is the true leader of this team. Thank you for staying home to play at UNLV, Anthony.

    Why can't the local media just accept and celebrate UNLV being ranked #12? The entire week the print, TV and radio media in Las Vegas hyped UNLV as "about to crack the top ten." Please stop the ridiculous hype and keep some semblance of reality.

    Go Rebels!

  10. You're right everyone... it was all of us fans' faults and the media's fault for this loss. And now the sky is falling. We suck and it's all over.

    Some of you are ridiculous! We lost on the road to a ranked conference opponent on a last second shot! We didn't just get run out of the building at home by TCU. Let's be realistic here.

    A major factor for the excruciating slow start to the game I think has to be the long layoff between our last actual game and this one. With the coaching change and changes in the conference, it sort of left us scrambling to fill a few spots on got left with the layoff as every other conference was already beginning conference play. It is what it is.

    To lay all of the blame for this loss on one player is ridiculous too. Oscar had a dreadful game, but arguably our two best players, Stanback and Moser, were non-factors for most of the game as well. The one stat I lookat more than anything is free throw shooting. We shot 52% as a team! If we just shoot our average (69%), SDSU is jacking up a 3 on the last possession to tie the game, or, at worst, Franklin's buzzer beater sends it to OT.

    If anyone thought we were just going to waltz through conference play without a loss, then yes, those fans were delusional. We'll probably lose 3, maybe 4, total in conference. This loss is not a killer. And when SDSU comes to The Mack in February, I truly believe we'll win by double-digits.

  11. it seems to me that we should actually be relatively happy, or at least not too depressed, with this loss. we played as tough a team (besides UNC) as we've played all year--on their raucous home court--overcame a double-digit deficit and made them make a last-second shot to win. as we all know by now, stanback and moser will have these kinds of games sometimes (stanback has for 3 yrs now), so we have to deal with that. really, the atrocious free throw shooting is what was the make or break stat, and we broke. but i'll take a loss like this to a very quality opponent in their gym over the last two losses, in which we were run out of the respective buildings by two teams to whom we should have at least stayed close. progress is being made, rebel fans, and losses like this will actually be to our benefit in a month or two. or at least that's my theory.

  12. @4UNLV Thanks for sharing the story about Anthony Marshall.

    Any loss to a rival hurts, but let's keep in mind that the elite teams in any conference are supposed to win their home games against the other elite teams. SDSU got the job done despite a relentless effort by UNLV. Props to them. There is no shame to losing on the road to a Top-25 caliber team in your own conference.

    The difference between winning and losing that one was a few more made free throws or a few more possessions pounding the ball to Brice or Carlos in the post instead of taking long threes. But SDSU played great defense and forced us to be a jump-shooting team more often than we wanted to be.

  13. @4UNLV

    I don't think it went down the way it was explained on that thread. According to Coach Rice and our radio announcer on the post game interview, the guys were trying to get off the court so as not to be ran over when their fans stormed the court. Marshall brought them back after he realized there was no real danger.

    It is a peculiar thing that a ranked team, less than a year removed from being in the sweet 16, after winning their sixth in a row and 9 out of 10 over us....storms the court. That just shows me that their fans don't really think they are legit.

    Also, as bad as we played and shot but still should have won the game it makes me look forward to them coming to our house. Unlike seemingly everyone on every board I've looked at, I wasn't impressed in the least with SDSU. We were just that bad. BTW, not that this one play was the reason for losing but....I'm surprised no one is mentioning the 'major' travel Franklin committed before driving to the hoop on the last play. The only other person I've heard call it out was Sandler and it was before, during and after Franklin made the shot. To me it was as clear as day, I guess not as much to others (especially the incomprehensibly clueless refs that actually were paid to officiate that game).

    Props to AM, you're turning into one heck of ball player bro, I think that if your play continues on this track you're going to see your name being called in the draft.

  14. Franklin actually traveled twice when he caught the ball off the screen. Argghh! But games aren't perfectly called and SDSU won. What makes me feel somewhat better is that UNLV was pretty flat and it took a buzzer beater (off a travel) and what I consider to be maybe the best crowd in college bball to get them over the hump. Also Fisher going small was brilliant. He gave his team the best possible chance to win and they executed.

  15. This game was easily winnable.. If you look at the poor shooting start, the poor night from both Stanback and Bellfield, and the poor free throw shooting, there were many chances to make up the 2 point differential. This was probably the best defense the Rebels have seen and the most hostile crowd as well. I think the Rebels will ultimately learn from this and come back stronger than they were before. I wouldn't want to be TCU on Wednesday night.

    BTW Sinatra, welcome back to the boards, we missed you during the Rebels win streak. Everyone in the country (besides you) would say the non-conference record was an accomplishment of sorts, as it brought national attention to the program, and it helped land Khem Birch. While the Rebels are 0-1 in respects to their season long goal (winning the MWC), we shouldn't discount everything they've done up until now.

  16. Come on now, Sinatra's right.....

    No one.....and I mean no one.....should 'ever' be allowed to cover the Rebels good or bad until they actually win the National Championship. We don't want to hear a word about rankings, players making it to the NBA, wins, losses, rpi, bracketology, streaks, slumps, suspensions, injuries, successful hires, recruits or biographies for players/coaches EVER!....Until we win another National Title. And once we win, SHUT UP! You're not allowed to speak, write, type or express opinion until the next time we win another title.


  17. @ Fastcamron: I also have heard the reason why the players left the court. I liked the fact that an Aztec fan noticed AM's sportmanship and leadership, enough to post it on ESPN, and it's all over twitter as well. I do feel Marshall has adjusted to the new system now in place, and the fight in him just doesn't quit. He kept us in that game on Saturday, hopefully the rest of the team plays to their potential throughout the rest of the season, every one of them has the ability to step up and carry the load on any given day, against any given team. Viejas is known as one of the toughest home arenas in the country, and with the rivalry that has developed, adrenaline was sky-high for both teams, but it was the Aztecs who were at home and won at the buzzer. I think there will be a different result in Vegas, and I'm looking forward to the 2 games here this week. TCU will not be a cakewalk, and UNM will be tough. Let's go, Rebels! Do work, and have some FUN!

  18. @UNLV-123....that's right, I will post on the boards when the team F's up....there's not reason to post on the board otherwise! They haven't accomplished anything. Until they do so, they will be criticized....that's the very definition of criticism...get it?! I guess not.

    "One win at a time"...."No hype"...."No Complacency".....that should be the mantra every year.

  19. The Rebs will be fine. They need to split up more of Oscars minutes however. He needs to realize the offense runs through Chase, Moser, and Marshall. His job is to distribute and play D. Also someone remind Moser he is 6'8 and needs to get in the paint every now and again. He has fallen in love with his inability to shoot 3's.

  20. Yeah! "No hype" = "No recruiting"!

    Good call..........

    Sinatra, you do realize that you are allowed to have smaller accomplishments on the way to a major one right?

    We (as in actualy Rebel fans) don't have to apologize for getting excited when our team plays well. I'm disappointed when we lose as well but I'm not going to sit on my hands and not enjoy wins and the celebration that follows. It's the players job to take "one win at a time". I have a career already that I take one day at a time and I refuse to treat my team like a job. I will continue to enjoy EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE written locally and nationally about our rise back to prominence. If you don't like it....don't read.

  21. Haters gonna hate.