Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 | midnight
- UNLV notes: Carlos Lopez will be reevaluated for a sprained ankle
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 77, Boise State 72
- Blog: No. 12 UNLV staves off the upset at Boise State with a 77-72 win in overtime
- UNLV reserve guard Reggie Smith building for next season
- Rebels climb two spots to No. 12 in AP rankings, No. 15 in coaches’ poll
- Anthony Marshall’s stellar performances rewarded with league Player of the Week award
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
BOISE, Idaho — Mike Moser's game plan was like that of a lion slowly stalking its prey — if the lion had a head cold, a sore throat and had thrown up a little earlier in the day.
Despite an illness that has kept him quarantined from the team except for their time on the court, Moser grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds and scored a team-leading 18 points, including five in the extra period of No. 12 UNLV's 77-72 overtime victory against Boise State.
Moser knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up the whole game. So he paced himself through the first half — four points, seven rebounds — and then pounced at opportune times the rest of the way.
“I tried to save everything I could for the second half,” Moser said. “The way they were making shots I figured it would go down to the wire so I figured I might as well save myself.”
About three minutes into the second half with the Rebels (19-3, 3-1) trailing by four, Moser hit consecutive 3-pointers, and then a few minutes later he put UNLV up four with another trey.
The Rebels' reliance on the 3-pointer would be a big issue throughout the game. The team attempted a season-high 34 3-point attempts and shot a season-low 34.8 percent from the field.
“It’s way too many 3s for us to shoot,” coach Dave Rice said. “One of the hardest things for how we like to play is that we want to play fast but we also want to take good shots. And today we settled for quick, semi-contested shots that are not in the flow of what we do.
“And the concerning thing for me is that we did the exact same thing for the majority of the game at San Diego State.”
That’s a problem. But the team also hit 3-pointers at key moments, like senior guard Oscar Bellfield's shot from deep that put UNLV up five with 2:06 left in overtime.
Despite UNLV’s 36 percent shooting behind the 3-point line going into that shot, Bellfield’s mentality was pretty simple.
“Just not even thinking about it, just let it go,” Bellfield said.
Rice’s offensive demands of his players run a fine line.
He wants them to play fast, but not reckless. He wants to play inside-out, but everyone should have confidence to shoot whenever they feel they’re open.
On Wednesday, the Rebels failed at the latter.
What they may have thought were open shots were contested looks on a possession when the ball never made it into the paint.
Rice said he didn’t feel like the decisions were an issue of discipline, just everyone trying to do too much.
“It’s more of guys being very competitive and trying to make big plays on their own,” Rice said, “but that’s not what we do.”
On UNLV’s final possession of regulation, Bellfield passed the ball into senior center Brice Massamba, who then dished it to Chace Stanback running free around the wing inside the 3-point line. Stanback’s jumper fell short off the rim, but Moser grabbed the offensive rebound and nearly went up for a shot attempt before getting it stripped away. Boise State’s Thomas Bropleh fell on the ball and called a timeout, giving the Broncos (10-9, 0-4) a chance to win with the scored tied at 64 and 30.4 seconds on the clock.
In a similar situation at San Diego State, the Rebels blew their defensive switch and allowed Jamaal Franklin to hit the game-winner.
This time, things went a lot better.
The Broncos’ Derrick Marks dribbled 30 feet from the basket until there were seven seconds left, and then when he attacked toward the lane the Rebels switched off the ball screen and forced him to pass to the corner where Moser blocked Bropleh’s off-balance 3-point attempt.
“My proudest sequence of the night was the last defensive stand of regulation, because it’s been defense that we’ve been able to count on all year long,” Rice said.
Moser seemed to barely notice that he was the one with the crucial block, instead pointing to the defense up top shutting off Marks’ entry into the lane.
“We just played the screen, finally, the way we thought we were going to play it all game,” Moser said.
The Rebels dominated overtime.
UNLV’s offensive rebounds held Boise State to one possession in the first two minutes, and after Bellfield’s 3-pointer the Broncos were forced to foul. Moser hit five free throws and Stanback hit a pair to ice the game.
“Once we got it to overtime, our guys looked at each other and said ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game,’” Rice said.
Stanback scored 15 points while Bellfield finished with 13 points and six assists. Junior guard Anthony Marshall had five points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes before fouling out with 3:17 to go in regulation.
Slow starts had been the Rebels’ biggest problem on the road, but Wednesday they jumped out to a 12-0 lead. In retrospect, that may have been part of the problem.
“It probably came a little too easy for us to start the game, because we made shots and they actually missed open shots, so a little bit of fool’s gold to get off to the start that we did,” Rice said.
It seems that any kind of start on the road can turn into trouble for UNLV. That’s just another thing to worry about as the Rebels play again on the road Saturday at Air Force.
By then, Moser should be feeling better. Although, considering his production, maybe a lingering illness wouldn't be such a bad thing.