Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 | 8:20 p.m.
If someone stumbled into the Barclays Center tonight and witnessed the game of basketball for the first time in their life, they would be able to explain, without a doubt, that Stanford played this game better in every way, shape and form than UNLV. You didn’t need nuance or depth to call this 89-60 UNLV loss what it was: A thorough beating.
“We certainly got it handed to us tonight,” said UNLV coach Dave Rice.
The most lopsided loss of the Rice era was over as soon as it started. Stanford jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never cooled off behind the 3-point line, shooting 14-of-20. Stanford’s biggest lead was 32 and the margin wasn’t less than 23 in the final 15:54.
UNLV will play the loser of Temple vs. No. 4 Duke at 4 p.m. Las Vegas time Saturday.
Most of the damage came courtesy of senior guards Anthony Brown and Chasson Randle, who combined to hit 10-of-15. A lot of their shots couldn’t have been more open or in rhythm if they were taken in warmups, a massive failure of UNLV’s defense.
“A little surprised,” Randle said on how open he was, “but at the same time I think our guys did a good job spacing the ball.”
The Rebels came out in man defense and quickly switched into the 1-2-2 zone that had worked well in the victories against Morehead State and Sam Houston State. UNLV also spent some time in a 1-3-1 look, but none of the changes mattered because the Rebels so often left Stanford’s shooters open no matter what defense they were playing.
“We have to pay attention to detail, do a better job of paying attention to scouting reports,” Rice said.
After all the excitement leading into this game, the Rebels’ first three shots never even hit the rim. Stanford deserves most of the credit but it also appeared that UNLV’s inexperienced roster wasn’t ready for this stage no matter the opponent.
“I really have no idea,” freshman guard Rashad Vaughn said of the slow start. “… We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
Vaughn shot 2-of-9 and finished with seven points and two turnovers in 33 minutes. UNLV’s leading scorer was Christian Wood, who had 12 points on 10 shots plus 11 rebounds. UNLV shot 37.9 percent from the field and just 27.8 percent behind the 3-point line.
“There was a lesson that was taught and hopefully learned,” Rice said.
Less than 24 hours after this one mercifully ended, UNLV will return to the court at the Barclays Center with a horde of fans who have no idea how the Rebels will respond. UNLV’s sections in the stands dwarfed Stanford’s but those fans had little reason to make much noise after the opening tip.
Rice said he liked having a game to play so quickly because there’s no time for the Rebels to dwell. Vaughn agreed.
“We can’t let this game affect us, or the same thing will happen tomorrow,” Vaughn said.
That’s a legitimate concern based on this game. A loss was understandable if not expected. This was different.
This was dominance that could be indicative of further issues, or possibly a rather extreme blip in a team’s maturation process. That will all depend on how UNLV responds and adjusts, starting with the basics, like something that person who wandered into this arena would learn is called defense.
Smith held out with ankle injury
Rice said after the game that sophomore guard Kendall Smith didn’t play because of an ankle injury he suffered Tuesday. Smith was a partial practice participant, Rice said, but they didn’t want to rush him back. It’s possible he plays Saturday.
Partially because of that injury, redshirt freshman Dantley Walker made his collegiate debut in the final four minutes. Walker was 0-for-1 beyond the arc.