Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, March 15, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Updated Thursday, March 15, 2012 | 11:42 p.m.
- The Sun's printable NCAA Tournament bracket
- The Sun's coverage of UNLV in the NCAA Tournament
- Can Mike Moser’s athleticism help the Runnin’ Rebels return to postseason glory?
- The Rebels are in good spirits as they attempt to bury the mistakes of past tourney trips
- Get to know Colorado: Brown and Roberson control Buffaloes’ chances for an upset
- Tourney Treats: Play the cool name game with Brice Massamba and Chace Stanback
- Tourney Treats: Take down the Sun’s sports staff in an NCAA bracket challenge
- Four Mountain West teams face varying challenges in the NCAA Tournament
- UNLV basketball gets the best-case scenario on a memorable Selection Sunday
- Tourney Treats: Round of 32 could feature a pair of Vegas stars going head to head
- Tourney Treats: log 5 equation gives UNLV a 66 percent chance to win its first game
- Colorado riding high into NCAA Tournament matchup with UNLV
- The 411: Your guide for getting to Albuquerque to support Rebels in NCAA Tournament
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
ALBUQUERQUE — Chace Stanback sat in his locker, an NCAA towel draped over his head. He didn’t move for several minutes, the realization that his collegiate career is over slowly settling into his consciousness.
UNLV lost to Colorado 68-64 because the Rebels played awful for most of the game. They came out limp, falling behind by as much as 13 in the first half. Things got worse before they got better, and only a miracle rally gave them any chance.
They never led and lost their first NCAA Tournament game for the third straight year and dropped their fourth in a row overall, a first for the program.
“We came out and played terribly, shot horribly, and they played some of their best basketball,” senior guard Kendall Wallace said.
Stanback, Wallace, Oscar Bellfield and Brice Massamba will never again wear UNLV uniforms.
Stanback took the ball off the dribble more than he had over the last two months, trying to will himself to be the dynamic player he once was. He finished 3-for-12, including 2-for-8 behind the three-point line, and scored eight points in 29 minutes. Bellfield shot 4-for-12, including 2-for-6 from deep, and finished with 10 points, eight assists and no turnovers.
Wallace missed all six of his shots, all 3-pointers, and Massamba scored five points in 18 minutes.
Wallace, a fifth-year senior, is the only one of the group to win a tournament game at UNLV, back in 2008 against Kent State. The Rebels haven’t won a tournament game since, dropping the next game to Kansas then following with first-game exits to Northern Iowa in 2010 and Illinois last year.
“I think I’m more hurtful for our seniors, not getting them out of the first round,” junior guard Anthony Marshall said. “They laid the foundation for us.”
UNLV shot 9-for-36 behind the three-point line (25 percent) and hit 32.4 percent overall from the field. The Rebels were outrebounded 46-33, a key to Colorado’s initial charge. Andre Roberson finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
The Buffaloes had nine first-half offensive rebounds, the same total they finished with.
The damage was done, though.
UNLV had been forcing turnovers the entire game, but only during that stretch from about 8 minutes left to 4:19 were they able to turn those into points.
Marshall scored a team-high 15, while junior guard Justin Hawkins had 11. Bellfield and sophomore forward Mike Moser each scored 10.
The rally gave them hope. Everything before that signified that the team’s struggles down the stretch of the season were symptomatic of a problem you can’t fix on the fly. A large chunk of the rotation has the off-season to consider what that is and how they can find it.
The four seniors were left sitting in their lockers, looking either at the ground or off into space toward something unattainable: the past. They don’t need to be ashamed. But every one of them is disappointed.
“We left everything out there,” Wallace said.
UNLV storms back with 12-0 run, now trails Colorado 57-55 with 3:51 to play
Proving just how little I know, UNLV has stormed back behind a full-court press, tight defense and a passion that had been missing the entire game. There's still a ways to go, but UNLV is playing out of its mind right now and deserves recognition for not giving up.
Justin Hawkins hit a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 57-55 with 3:51 remaining, and Colorado hasn't scored in more than four minutes. UNLV is on a 12-0 run.
Throw everything out the window. This is a game. UNLV has all the momentum, and the pressure is now on the Buffs to come up with an answer. This is what March Madness is all about. Unbelievable.
UNLV down to its final, remote, chances, facing 57-43 deficit with 7:55 to play
If you believe in miracles, then you may believe UNLV still has a chance, down 57-43 with 7:55 remaining. Those who have been watching the game will have a considerably less sunny outlook on the final minutes, as the Rebels appear to be headed for their fourth straight NCAA tournament loss for the first time in program history.
Anthony Marshall is playing hard. Carlos Lopez and Justin Hawkins, too. Really, it's not like the rest of the guys have just slacked off, but Chace Stanback's defensive lapses have been costly, and quick 3s from everyone have further buried UNLV in this mess.
There's little left to do but just hope that UNLV can make a run to get it to single digits. If that happens, the possibility, however minute, exists. Even that is a stretch, and basically it's time to count down the last minutes in UNLV's 2011-12 season.
UNLV grasping for life, down 49-33 to Colorado in the second life
UNLV has attempted, and missed, four more 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the second half. While the Rebels' shots clanged off the iron, Colorado has hit 3-of-4 behind the three-poine line, including a pair from big man Austin Dufault.
With 14:00 remaining in someone's season, the Rebels trail Colorado 49-33, a beatdown that has UNLV fans planted in their seats.
UNLV finally put the ball inside and got a couple of baskets, but there's so much ground to make up and they're running out of time. The defense needs to force turnovers. The offense has to stop settling. The players need to believe that they're still in this.
Will any of that happen? I don't know. I just know this looks like another disappointing March for UNLV.
UNLV is in serious trouble in Albuquerque, down 11 to Colorado at halftime
UNLV is getting beat in every way, shape and form through 20 minutes. Forget what I said about not panicking and just hope that the Rebels left some magic in the locker room.
Colorado leads 36-25. The Buffaloes are outrebounding the Rebels 27-12, outscoring them 16-6 in the paint and despite committing six more turnovers, they have also scored two more points off turnovers. Colorado guard Askia Booker came off the bench with 12 points and Andre Roberson has eight points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes.
The Rebels don't have anybody with more than six points (Mike Moser) and he needed six shots to get there. Chace Stanback and Brice Massamba each have five points and the team is shooting 27.6 percent from the floor. Their body language is bad, teammates have been yelling each other and slumping on the court. This doesn't look like a team that's going to battle through adversity today.
With that said, there are 20 minutes left for them to figure it out. Colorado is shooting 50 percent from the floor, a pace they shouldn't be able to keep up if UNLV plays a bit more physical. And the Rebels have shown an ability to improve on giving up offensive rebounds (nine so far) as the game goes on. That's where it has to start, because second-chance points will only push Colorado's lead further.
UNLV also needs to take fewer 3s (4-for-16) and make more free throws (5-for-11). That's an awfully long list, and more than a few bounces would have to go their way to make it happen.
It's not impossible, but UNLV can't wait even a minute to change things up in the second half. It's now or never for this season.
UNLV getting dominated on the glass and trailing Colorado 19-10
UNLV coach Dave Rice has already trotted out some very different lineups, trying to find a spark that will ignite UNLV's stagnant attack midway through the first half.
Kendall Wallace, Chace Stanback and Carlos Lopez were all out there together, and now all three are watching from the bench as Reggie Smith has come into the game for the first time. It hasn't done much to correct UNLV's woes as the Rebels trail Colorado 19-10 with 7:29 left in the first half.
Mike Moser hit a 3, but Anthony Marshall is 1-for-5 and Stanback is 0-4 as UNLV's shot selection has deteriorated a bit in the last stretch. Overall they're shooting 20 percent while the Buffaloes are at 42 percent. The Rebels have forced five turnovers but they haven't really turned into run-outs, which would give them the easy buckets they need to get a roll.
Their biggest problem right now, though, is on the glass. Colorado leads rebounding 20-8, a staggering number that will destroy UNLV's chances if it keeps up.
UNLV's defense needs to be more physical after falling in a 14-4 hole
Any panic you're feeling is premature.
UNLV hasn't stormed out of the gates as they would have liked, but the offense is actually playing well — getting open shots within the offense — and just hasn't been able to get their good looks to fall. Their defense is another story.
Carlon Brown, who crushed the Rebels during his time at Utah, is off to a good start, and Andre Roberson is winning his battle against Mike Moser so far as Colorado leads 14-4 with 13:20 left in the first half.
The Rebels have struggled a bit when attacking the rim and that's got to change. They also need to get more physical on defense, bodying up their man before he can get into position and get where he's trying to go on the court.
There's still a lot of basketball left, but for a team that has been fading in the second half, this isn't the kind of start UNLV fans needed to see.
UNLV's season comes down to tonight's game against Colorado
ALBUQUERQUE — This is it.
The bitterness of two straight first-game exits. The ups and downs of a season that included a win against North Carolina and no road victories in the month of February. The challenges of having success as a first-year coach.
All of those factors have shaped and molded UNLV into the team that will take the court tonight at around 7:21 p.m. for a second-round game against Colorado.
A victory would be the first UNLV win in an NCAA Tournament for all but one Rebel (Kendall Wallace). It would be a validation of what UNLV has done this season in order to earn a 6 seed, the highest since the 1990-91 season.
Conversely, a loss would indicate the Rebels are much closer to the team that got blown out by New Mexico in this same arena nearly a month ago than the one that climbed as high as No. 11 in the AP poll.
That can be a very frustrating thing for a coach and a team that have worked all year, and even before that, to come to terms with. An entire year’s legacy boiled down to how you perform against one particular team on one particular night.
That’s something UNLV coach Dave Rice understands but doesn’t necessarily agree with. It’s a lot harder to win over an extended stretch, like a 14-game conference schedule, than it is in a single-elimination tournament where anything can happen. But that’s the hand college coaches are dealt, and tonight it’s Rice’s turn to try his luck.
The draw is good: Colorado needed four victories in four nights just to get here, a stretch that could leave their legs a bit wobbly.
The location is good: UNLV has played here before, and with the local fans on their side instead of against them the environment should be more to their liking.
The biggest question that remains is just how much the fading play down the stretch, especially in high-altitude environments, will affect UNLV going forward. Do they have enough left in the tank to not only get a lead, but actually keep it?
Last year’s blowout loss to Illinois saw UNLV get blitzed from the opening tip. I expect the Rebels to be ready to go this time around, but can that translate to the second half, when they’ve allowed teams to chip away at leads?
Colorado is not an experience tournament team, so UNLV’s lack of postseason success doesn’t mean as much as it would if they were playing a March Madness regular. In the end, this is going to come down to the same type of execution questions that UNLV has been dealing with since February.
The Rebels are the more talented team, and the excitement of this moment should help them get out and running to a first-half lead. What happens then will determine not only this game, but how far UNLV is likely to go in the tournament.
Bern’s prediction: The Rebels will, at some point, get popped in the mouth. The Buffaloes were snubbed from last year’s tournament and needed a miracle run to make it this year. They’re out to prove they belong and they don’t particularly care who gets in their way. That mentality may serve them well against a team that has wilted under pressure at times, but Colorado is not going to have enough firepower to take down the Rebels.
Mike Moser and Oscar Bellfield will have stellar games, and if Chace Stanback is hitting shots this one may not even be close. That’s a big if, though, and I think Colorado will be within shouting distance with five minutes to go. But it won’t get any closer than that. UNLV 71, Colorado 63.