UNLV basketball:

Blog: Rebels will play for tournament title after tonight’s 92-71 victory

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Chris Wood stretches while preparing for the Rebels game against Santa Clara in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 at the Orleans Arena.

Updated Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 | 9:37 p.m.

Las Vegas Classic: UNLV vs. Santa Clara

UNLV forward Roscoe Smith pulls down a rebound over Santa Clara guard Brandon Clark during their Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic game Sunday, Dec. 2013, at the Orleans Arena. Launch slideshow »

UNLV 92, Santa Clara 71

Game over

Deville Smith led UNLV with 21 points, five assists and four rebounds in a 92-71 victory against Santa Clara tonight at Orleans Arena. His effort helped set up a matchup Monday night at 7:30 p.m. against Mississippi State, where Deville Smith started his career.

The Rebels led by nine at halftime and after a quick Santa Clara run they were able to create some distance and eventually coast into the end. Four other Rebels finished in double figures as UNLV scored a season-high in points.

The Broncos shot only 39 percent from the field while UNLV finished at 60.7 for the game. The Rebels also shot 50 percent from 3 and 68 percent at free-throw line. UNLV led points in the paint 48-26.

The Rebels' bench actually outscored the starters, although that's due to a strange lineup that had Bryce Dejean-Jones and Khem Birch on the bench. We'll find out why Dave Rice went that way in postgame.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' victory.

 

Through 10 games of the 2013 season, there are a lot of interesting figures behind the Rebels’ 6-4 start. Maybe none more so than a couple of defensive stats: effective field goal percentage and free throw rate.

Those are two of the four factors that stat heads point to as the most important skills a team can possess. The Rebels’ offensive numbers in those categories are mostly below average, but on defense in those two categories they rank first (free throw rate) and third in the nation.

Effective field goal percentage puts more importance on 3-point attempts, so it more accurately judges a team for its prowess at both shooting from and defending the 3-point line. And free throw rate is simply how often a team gets to the free-throw line. UNLV’s opponents make that trip fewer times than against any other team in the country.

Those are a couple of things to watch as the Rebels play the first of a back-to-back tonight against Santa Clara (6-5). UNLV tips off at 7:30 p.m. at Orleans Arena, and the game is not on TV.

If they lose today, the Rebels will play tomorrow at 5 p.m.; if they win, they'll play at 7:30 in the nightcap of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. The Monday opponent will be either Mississippi State (8-2) or South Florida (8-2).

In order to get to the winners game late tomorrow night, UNLV is going to rely on those defensive stats that have carried them thus far, especially since Santa Clara is above average at controlling the ball.

Bern’s prediction: The Rebels have covered in five consecutive games. May as well ride the streak. UNLV 71, Santa Clara 60

Season: ATS 7-3, O/U 7-3

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

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