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UNLV basketball:

Rebels trail the whole way in disappointing setback at Boise State

While most fans were talking about the end, UNLV coach Dave Rice found his team’s start ‘inexcusable’ in 77-72 loss


Associated Press

UNLV’s Anthony Bennett (15) and Boise State’s Jeff Elorriaga (11) go after a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Boise, Idaho. BSU won 77-72. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

UNLV vs. Boise State

UNLV's Anthony Marshall (3) and Boise State's Kenny Buckner (42) go after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 77-72. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley) Launch slideshow »

BOISE — The Rebels had four options, which is more than they probably deserved after a dreadful start.

When Boise State’s Derrick Marks missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt with 23 seconds left, Bryce Dejean-Jones grabbed the rebound with UNLV suddenly in a game-winning situation. UNLV coach Dave Rice didn’t have any timeouts left, so when he sent his team out for Marks’ first attempt he had to prepare for them to be down anywhere from one to three.

The deficit, once as big as 12 with 13 minutes to play, was only one when Dejean-Jones made an outlet pass to Anthony Marshall, who put the Rebels into Rice’s called set.

Dejean-Jones set a screen at the top of the key for Marshall, who could have faked a handoff and gone to the rim. Dejean-Jones could have rolled off the pick and taken his man one-on-one in isolation. And after passing Marshall could have set a flare screen for Anthony Bennett on the wing and then slipped to the basket. Marshall said those were three options on the play.

The one the Rebels took was Marshall spacing out to the right and passing to Dejean-Jones, who found Bennett for a spot-up 3-point attempt on the left wing with about 15 seconds left. Bennett missed, and with it UNLV (17-5, 4-3) missed its chance to steal a game it never led or even tied after 0-0.

Boise State’s (15-6, 3-4) free throws iced the game and a 77-72 victory that set off a brief court storm from the student section at Taco Bell Arena.

“They took away the other options and (Bennett) was wide open,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said about the game’s crucial play.

Just how open Bennett was could be debated but there’s no doubt he got a pretty good look at a shot that would have put UNLV up by two, a shot that had Rice’s absolute blessing.

“I want Anthony Bennett to shoot that ball every single time,” Rice said. “We got a great shot and the next time he has that shot he’ll make it.”

Bennett finished with a game-high 25 points, 19 of them coming in the second half. He went into full takeover mode with about 7 minutes left, when Bennett hurt Boise State with jumpers in the hole of the zone defense and great position in the post. For a time Bennett was getting anything he wanted near the basket, which is why his final shot seemed strange.

Everyone figured he would be the guy to take it, just not from that spot. After the game Bennett’s recollection of that possession wasn’t nearly as crisp as Marshall’s.

“I just remember I took the three and I missed it,” said Bennett, who added he thought it was a good look. “I’m not sure what play was called.”

Rice said he didn’t want to post up Bennett in that spot because he was concerned about getting double-teamed. Marshall racked up a few of his 12 assists on post feeds to Bennett down the stretch, but he didn’t say he would have liked to try setting up Bennett closer to the basket.

“We just went off the coach’s decision,” Marshall said. “That’s the play he drew up and that’s the play he wanted, for (Bennett) to get a jump shot. We’re all confident in (Bennett).”

Marshall set up the Rebels’ opportunity on the previous possession with a 3 that cut the deficit to one. Those were UNLV’s only points in the final 2:37. Marshall finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting and just two turnovers, one of the only players who showed up the entire night.

While Rice was OK with Bennett’s shot, he called the Rebels’ start “inexcusable.” Khem Birch committed two fouls in the first 1:06, forcing him to sit on the bench while Boise racked up points in the paint, and UNLV trailed by nine less than four minutes into the game. The Rebels lacked energy and urgency against a team that clearly played better with regular starter Jeff Elorriaga (11 points in 40 minutes) back in the lineup.

“That’s not the way a team that’s trying to win a league championship approaches the start of a game on the road,” Rice said.

UNLV tailed by five with 4:07 left before halftime when Mike Moser committed a foul on the Broncos’ Anthony Drmic (22 points) at the rim. Drmic had leaked out for an easy layup attempt and Moser, who was the closest Rebel but far behind the play, gave chase and ended up hitting Drmic in the face with his open right hand.

One ref immediately put up a sign for an intentional foul, and after reviewing the tape the refs conferred and told Rice they didn’t think Moser made any play on the ball, issuing him a flagrant two foul that comes with an automatic ejection. Unless the Mountain West adds an additional punishment then Moser, who had to watch the rest of the game from the locker room with his mom in attendance, should be OK to play Wednesday at Fresno State (7-13, 1-6).

The Rebels now go into that contest a full two games behind first-place New Mexico (19-3, 6-1), which defeated UNR on Saturday.

The end of this game didn’t go the Rebels’ way but Rice isn’t likely to harp on it in the film room. UNLV battled back and put the ball in its best player’s hands. That start and a usually stellar defense that gave up a lot of easy looks is where he will spend his time.

“The reason why we’re so frustrated is that it took us forever to get going,” Rice said. “We knew that Boise State was going to be a desperate team.”

And the Rebels didn’t match that desperation, especially at the beginning. Well, most of them didn’t. And to win close games on the road UNLV needs everybody to step up and provide better options.

“It can’t be one or two guys going out and playing their hardest and the rest not following,” Marshall said. “We’ve got to do it as a team.”

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

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  1. Anthony Marshall plays his heart out every game. I only wish the rest of the team followed his lead. UNLV would be having a dreadful season without him.

  2. Anthony Marshall played a hell of a game, but his fellow senior Justin Hawkins had one of his typical no-shows again: 20 min 0-5, 2 Reb, 1 ast, 3 fouls. I know Tyler loves JHawk being on the floor, but why is that?

  3. I wish the poor shot selection would end. I think the refs were worth a few points for Boise as well. Moser was the correct call but there were some other fouls and a turnover at the end that were very poor calls.

  4. They stink...the players are selfish and not-so-smart (dumb) and the head coach should be an assistant at BYU. Oh Tark we miss you!

  5. Well here we go again, this Rebel team has no heart or will to win. We had a great chance to build our program back to one of the premire teams in the country. The Rebels are the west coast version of Kentucky but we dont have and will not have 3 or 4 five star recruits waiting in the wing but that could have been differnt if we had a coach that had the respect of his players and knew how to use the talent he has. These players dont have a clue what the word team means. They do what they want to do on the court to make themselves look good. I wish that Stacey, and Robert Smith would sit them down and tell them what it means to be a great TEAM. I have been a Rebel fan for over 40 yrs and this really hurts because we had a chance to get back in it but we failed badly.

  6. Maybe we can still hire Reggie Theus and keep Rice on as the head recruiter.

  7. Defenders of Rice, particularly on a Rebel fan site claim this is on the players, not the coach. You "can't teach effort". Really? Watch basketball much? Reward PT on effort and not talent, effort wins games, not talent. There are so many examples of this on the teams with high ranking recruits, such as UCLA, Kentucky, etc. Coaches catering to prima donnas that don't want to give maximum effort, laugh and joke on the floor? That is coaching, nothing to do with the players. It's called a bench which is where you park someone that is not giving the full effort.

    Rice's BYU mentality of not pressing or trapping defensively is a joke. How can you say we need to run more, but sit back in a defense and let the opposing team run 30 seconds off the clock. You can't force someone to take a shot in 10seconds, but you can force turnovers to create a fast break.

    So, now in the past several years we have had one coach that can coach and one that can recruit, but neither can do both. The result is the same mediocraty. Rice over Theus does not look very good right now.

    Teaching "effort" is done by full court pressing and benching players that refuse to play defense, end of story. Rice is weak when it comes to defense, and even weaker when it comes to making players give full effort or ride the pine. Goodman is on the bench because we have more talented players, yet he out hustles 4-5 players that are getting PT. Moser is playing with "stupidity" out of frustration for a disappointing season. hard to blame him, but the pine might put some things in perspective for him. Bennet should start on the bench and then maybe he will give a better effort from the go. KR really needs to work on defense. Bryce Jones just needs to keep playing to shake the rust, but he defends. The only salvage to this season is making a committment to defense.

  8. Ball handling and eratic play seems to plague this team. Missing free throws down the line is an issue as well. While Rice may be an effective evaluator of talent...his coaching ability and motivational skills are certainly lacking. It appears another lack luster finish in the MW and should they make post season play...it will be one and done!

  9. @go_rebels - You can't teach effort. All you can do is discipline people for not giving effort.

  10. No you cant teach effort, but you can demand it that is what a great coach does. Cmon man

  11. @mitmo52 - Duke got destroyed by Miami last week. Does that make Krzyzewski a lousy coach?

  12. Down by one point, why the Rebels would shoot a contested three with 15 seconds on clock is beyond me. And that was the designed play that Rice called "a great shot"? Rebels should have run the clock down more and attacked the basket with about 5 seconds left, to score in lane or draw a foul. But the Rebels trailed the whole game and didn't deserve to win. Rebels played with little urgency and little smarts. Just not enough energy, enthusiasm and hustle .. on both ends of court. Looked like a team that doesn't care about winning a conference championship. Absolutely uninspired.

  13. That Lawernce kid just committed to Cincy wonder why? Bennett will be the last of the eleite players to come here.

  14. How can you compare Duke with UNLV. Every team has a bad game. There is not one dominating team this year like there was last year (Kentucky. UNLV seems to play badly on a consistent basis. It really is all about poor coaching. This team lacks any discipline. UNLV needs a coach.

  15. @HoosierBoy - Your buddy Tom Crean had losing seasons in his first three years at Indiana. Should he have been fired?

    @mitmo52 - Your lack of knowledge is appalling. Lawrence committed to Cincinnati because there's more playing time available there than at UNLV or St. John's. Is Steve Lavin a bad coach because he couldn't get Jermaine Lawrence?

  16. Man I'm not sure what to make of this. These kids seem like their head is somewhere else and not in the game.

  17. @Phillips. Tom Cream became coach of a storied IU program ruined by Kelvin Sampson. We all knew he would have his hands full in building back the IU basketball program. Quit comparing (that's a cop out) and face reality. If you can't hang, then you can't hang. You are obviously a very loyal UNLV basketball fan, as am I of my Hoosiers, but when IU plays bad, I'll be the first to admit it. Mr. Rice has shown to be a decent recruiter, but his coaching abilities are questionable. Have a great Super Bowl Sunday. Ciao

  18. Bottom line is the rebels re not playing good defense. Period. Bennett in particular is set in stone..or at lest his feet are......Kruger would not approve of this defense.

  19. Amen hoosier boy, UNLV needs a coach,,,bad , real bad. Lose to Boise St. ? Disgusting. Season ticket sales will fall next year as will the attendance per game. This year was sold on the hype of the talent recruited but even the talent needs leadership,direction, and discipline and there is very little of that. C- player, D+ coach.

  20. Rebels will now get a poor seed in tourney.....if they play smart they could beat any team in the country........I'm just disappointed that a Dave rice team isn't more cerebral.....me??? I'd have them in film room for hours going over situations...........I'd also be pointing out Bennett's lack of hustle.....even on post up he is half hearted.

  21. Ps....Reinhardt is a talent...as I did this time last yer, that he'd be a key player......he needs to be more selfish..very nice passes, and plenty of,smooth crossovers,in the game.....once he learns to create contact and get to the line hell be a star.

  22. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - I'm glad that Jim Livengood is the athletic director as opposed to you. If you were the athletic director, UNLV men's basketball would be in the dumps.

  23. This is the year Brice Massamba finally realizes his potential, right?

  24. Really? He did not want Bennett to go inside? What pills is our coach on? Even if there were down 3, a drive to the basketball would have been OK. Still,
    Boise is a good team and you guys all are seeming like this was a surprised. NOBODY can win on the road this week against someone not named Fresno or AFA. That's the way the MWC is. The announcer Steve Cleavland said this all game long.

  25. The Mountain West Conference might be a prison yard knife fight, but the team that has more talent wielding the knife should win. Bennett has proven that on the road he flat disappears. Bryce Jones is a turnover machine, and Mike still looks like he is struggling with the elbow. He was on full beast mode prior to the Cal game. What is the difference between the UNLV trip to Viejas and every other road game they played this year? Guys playing within themselves and team play. Every loss this year has been based on poor individual play. This team is to good to have the record they have. They will likely make the tourney but I don't expect them to be any different than a one and done.

  26. Phillips: If I were the AD , I sure wouldn't hire a coach based on his religion. Reggie would have been given the job and UNLV would be in the top 10. I don't know how long you have lived here but Rice wasn't a stand out player when he did play and his coaching skills match his playing skills. As much as I watch this guy maybe the guy in the suit is giving him bad advice because he sure does a lot of talking while Rice just stands there with arms crossed. And for the record who ever hired the AD needs to be replaced too.

  27. @Kenny Rogers Rice is not LDS.

  28. Want a great team, who does not drop games to second rate teams? Hire a great coach, its that simple. Oh and I always thought rice was LDS also, . But again, Reggie is not the answer.

  29. Rice is LDS or he wouldn't have coached at BYU, Helloooo BYU. Dont ya see the garments under his shirt? Hellooooo. And yes Reggie was the answer and the AD messed it up and hired his buddy from the zoo. Has anyone asked Rice if he is LDS?

  30. Use the google machine. Type in Dave Rice Mormon. Read.

  31. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/apr...

    "Everybody loved him at the Y and he's not even Mormon."

    So, no, CDR is not Mormon.

  32. Well yippee kay yea, If he's not a mo he's been around em too long cuz he sure looks like em. If the fans at BYU loved him maybe they'll take him back.

  33. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - Prove that Reggie Theus would have UNLV in the top 10 if he was head coach.