Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Rebels Shoot Down Air Force 60-50
The UNLV Runnin' Rebels overcame a sluggish 1st half with Kendall Wallace nailing four early second half threes to spark the Rebels to a 60-50 win over the Air Force Academy Falcons at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
14,175 fans were very quiet during the first half as the Falcons did their best Princeton imitation holding the Rebels to 21 first half points while they were connecting on three point plays and points off the bench. At the end of the first half,the Falcons led by three.
The Rebels two leading scorers Tre'Von Willis and Chase Stanback were relatively quiet in the first half. Willis did manage 13 points for the game far from his 24.5 average in conference play. He was 6-6 at the foul line when it counted down the stretch. Stanback finished with 12 points along with four rebounds, two off the offensive board as well as a blocked shot.
As it has been in recent games another Rebel had a standout game. Last night it was Brice Massamba who scored the Rebels first six points and wound up with eight. He also grabbed four boards as the Rebels out rebounded the Falcons 27-19. What's more significant was the Rebels grabbing seven offensive boards while Air Force only managed one.
The key player of the game was sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield. In his 34 minutes of play he scored four points with four rebounds, two off the offensive board and a game high 10 assists. Bellfield definitely took control of the offense in the second half as the Rebels outscored the Falcons by 13 points.
Air Force which is still win less in conference play put up a good battle taking the Rebels out of the their normal offensive sets and kept the game close right to the end.
Derrick Jasper who missed all of last year with micro fracture surgery on his left knee had the leave the game with seven minutes in the first half, perhaps re-injuring the same knee. Coach Kruger awaits today's tests to see how much time Jasper will miss. The fact that Kruger has used 11 players in most of their games is assured to replace Jasper with a competent replacement.
The Rebels have the next eight days off before a classic "trap" game in Wyoming on Wednesday. The trap is there because three days later the Rebels will meet Conference leader BYU at the Thomas and Mack where there are very few seats still available.
The biggest game in the Mountain West Conference season just might be tonight when the 10th nationally ranked BYU Cougars head to "The Pit" to meet 23rd ranked New Mexico. The Rebels have played both these teams on their home court losing to the Cougars by four and beating the Lobo's by 12.
Right now these three teams are the class of the MWC and if they all hold serve at home and get at least one win in the Mountain West Conference Tournament they should all be dancing in the NCAA's. The sleeper teams are Utah and San Diego State who will both be dangerous down the stretch.
People who know and watch sports regularly have always said that when a team plays poorly and can still win the game is a team that can do serious damage in the NCAA's. UNLV was that team last night. Let's hope it continues.