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Thursday, January 21, 2010

UNLV Bounces Back With a 80-72 Victory Over Colorado State

The UNLV Runnin' Rebels got back to their winning ways with a hard fought victory over the Rams from Colorado State by the score of 80-72. This win comes on the heels of a rare home loss Saturday against Utah.

This was the first home loss for the Rams this year as they proved to me last night that they are certainly are the most improved team this year in the Mountain West Conference.

They played very well on the defensive end by creating 16 Rebel turnovers while committing only 11 of their own. This is usually the formula that can beat the Rebels this year, but Colorado State did themselves in by shooting only 38 percent from the floor while UNLV shot 54 percent.

UNLV got a great, if not unexpected performance by freshman guard Justin Hawkins who had 10 points in 14 minutes of play. All his points were in the first half which was a see saw battle ending with a five point Rebel lead.

The second half saw the Rebels key players, Tre'Von Willis and Chase Stanback take over the scoring with UNLV pulling away in the last few minutes of the game. Willis led the scoring with a game high 21 points while Stanback added 19.

UNLV also had a great night at the foul line as they shot 82 percent. Once again coach Lon Kruger used 11 players in the game moving his rotation in and out of the line up seemingly every few minutes. Only Darris Santee failed to score in his seven minutes of play.

Kruger uses Santee along with Matt Shaw and Brice Massamba in the post while they defend players usually taller at the center position. Last night the tangent contributed with eight points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots. This has been a big concern all season long as Kruger is hoping one of three will stand out and step up.

The Rebels win moved them to 15-4 on the season and 3-2 in conference play. They move on to play TCU on the road this Saturday. The Rebels have Feb 6th circled on the calendar with their re-match against 13th ranked BYU, the leader with a 5-0 record in conference play.

However UNLV can not afford to look ahead. Along with TCU they have Air Force at home and Wyoming on the road before they get a shot against BYU. That promises to be the game of the year in the Mountain Conference.

After their close four point loss to BYU at the Marriott Center, Coach Kruger said that his young team needed to learn how to "close" the game. Last night they did just that against the Colorado State Rams. Hopefully that will continue.

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