UNLV basketball:

Blog: Rebels drop to 4-4 in the league with second straight loss, 64-55 at Fresno State

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Justin Hawkins reacts to a missed shot in the final minute of their game against New Mexico on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at The Pit in Albuquerque. New Mexico won 65-60.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 | 8:03 p.m.

Fresno State 64, UNLV 55

Game over

FRESNO, Calif. — Cimarron grad Kevin Olekaibe scored a game-high 21 points as Fresno State won just its second Mountain West game of the season, picking off UNLV 64-55 at the Save Mart Center on Wednesday night.

The Rebels were tied at halftime, then trailed by 16 with just more than 11 minutes expired in the second half. While UNLV's shots rimmed out, Fresno made shots at the end of shot clocks, attacked the rim and outscored UNLV in second-chance points despite finishing with fewer offensive rebounds.

Anthony Marshall and Anthony Bennett paced the Rebels, finishing with 19 and 15 points, respectively. Tyler Johnson added 15 points for the Bulldogs.

UNLV shot 35 percent from the floor, including just 4-for-21 on three-point attempts. A lot of those were chucked up in desperation time as the Rebels attempted to stave off their second straight loss.

Excluding its victory against Wyoming, Fresno hadn't led by more than eight against any league opponent coming into this game. Yet it controlled the second half completely. UNLV's half-court offense offered few great possessions, and even when they got looks the shots rimmed out.

This is the new low point in UNLV's season. There's no other way to describe it. I'm honestly curious to see how postgame thoughts differ, if at all, from the Boise State game.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight's UNLV defeat.

Fresno State 49, UNLV 36

7:59 remaining int he second half

FRESNO, Calif. — This is desperation time if there ever was one for UNLV. Full-court pressure, double teams, aggressive offense; the Rebels need to pull out all the stops down big on the road to the league's worst team.

UNLV has had more than a few good, open shots rim out, but nobody wants to hear about the excuses. On paper this isn't even a close matchup, yet the Bulldogs have all the momentum, plus they're already in the bonus. If the Rebels come back it's going to take execution at a higher level than they've played with since at least San Diego State. Do they have that in them tonight?

Fresno State 32, UNLV 28

15:55 remaining int he second half

FRESNO, Calif. — There's not much to say at this point, other than the fact that Fresno State, a team with basically nothing to play for until the conference tournament, is playing better than UNLV, a team trying to chase a league title.

The contrast of these motivations with the results on the court is staggering. The Rebels are having a hard time holding onto anything on offense, with the Bulldogs scrapping and reaching in to swipe it away every time.

And half-court offense, a much-criticized portion of UNLV's arsenal, has been getting good looks with very few conversions. Simply put, this isn't good enough from a team with a lot to play for.

UNLV 24, Fresno State 24

Halftime

FRESNO, Calif. — Las Vegas product Kevin Olekaibe, a Cimarron-Memorial grad, has 12 points, leading Fresnot State into a halftime tie with UNLV at the Save Mart Center.

The Rebels are shooting 31 percent from the field with six turnovers. UNLV is leading 22-17 on the boards, though the Rebels haven't been able to do nearly as much as they would like to with those extra chances.

Anthony Marshall leads UNLV with eight points while four other Rebels each have four points. The Rebels are 2-for-8 on 3-point attempts.

There's not much going UNLV's way lately, and more than that there's just not much going on. This place doesn't really get loud even when the Bulldogs do something good. For any kind of realistic shot at a regular season league title, UNLV has to come out with more energy, finish when it's at the rim and pull out a victory. The Rebels can't afford this loss.

UNLV 19, Fresno State 17

7:39 remaining in the first half

FRESNO, Calif. — While they're not doing a particularly good job finishing at the rim, the Rebels are getting out and running into close shots much more than they had in recent games.

Like I said, UNLV is maybe 50/50 on converting those chances once they get there, but they've all been shots UNLV would take again and again. When you're missing those shots it's OK long term. The problem arises when you're taking, and missing, bad and contested shots.

Khem Birch is the best example of this so far. He's getting position and making moves, both in transition and half-court sets. His results have been a mixed bag, but almost all of them are shots the Rebels would love to get again.

Fresno State 12, UNLV 11

13:20 remaining in the first half

FRESNO, Calif. — There is a considerable lack of enthusiasm from the sparse crowd at the Save Mart Center, and it's translating to the players on the court. This place holds nearly 16,000, but the top sections are behind a curtain and there are no more than 4,000 people here so far, I would guess.

While that could be considered a plus for UNLV — hostile environments are generally difficult to play in, after all — it could have the opposite effect as it's harder to maintain high energy when few people seem to care about the game. That's a reality UNLV is just going to have to deal with, because it has no excuse to drop this game. The pace picked up in the last few possessions, something the Rebels would like to see continue, and if the Bulldogs continue to show full-court pressure UNLV may get some more transition opportunities.

FRESNO, Calif. — If you follow UNLV, you probably have an opinion on Mike Moser. It most likely involves an amateur diagnosis of physical and mental state, as well as a prediction for his future.

No one can answer the latter right now, but UNLV coach Dave Rice did offer a little insight into the effects of that gruesome elbow injury on the team’s 2012 leading scorer and rebounder.

“It took its toll on him mentally,” said Rice, who said he didn’t think Moser would be at full health until about June 9 — six months after the injury. “But I think he’s back today to being the positive, energetic guy that we need.”

Rice said that Monday following a particularly lively practice. Right after practice ended Rice sat down with Moser and team trainer Dave Tomchek, Rice said, to thank Moser for acting more like his old self during practice. The Rebels have missed him on the floor, because even when he’s out there it hasn’t been the same. Rice believes that could change now.

“He’s the best psychologically since he’s been back playing games,” Rice said. “There’s no doubt he went through an adjustment period. Certain plays he can’t make that he’s been accustomed to making.”

Moser may even be back in the starting lineup tonight at 6 when UNLV (17-5, 4-3) at Fresno State (7-13, 1-6) on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. His total minutes would still depend on what he does with the opportunity plus his ability to keep himself in the game. After all, Moser was ejected in the first half at Boise State following a flagrant two foul on Anthony Drmic.

That was a surreal moment, said Moser, whose aunt actually left the game because she was so upset with the call. His mother and other family who made the trip from Portland stayed and watched the Rebels fall 77-72.

UNLV lacked plenty of things at various points in that game (see: defense, hitting an open shot in a key situation, defense) but leadership was key among them. That starts with coaching and includes the guys on the floor. Moser was someone Rice could turn to in late-game situations to pump up the team if not take over the game. That’s what Rice hopes he has back more than anything else.

“I just need him to get back to being the leader that he was before he got hurt,” Rice said. “He was such an important part of our team and we need his leadership down the stretch.”

THE OTHER SIDE

Fresno State projected lineup

G — Aaron Anderson, 6-3, Fr, 2.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.3 apg

G — Tyler Johnson, 6-2, Jr, 11.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg

G — Marvelle Harris, 6-4, Fr, 8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg

F — Jerry Brown III, 6-7, Jr, 6.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 spg

F — Kevin Foster, 6-8, Sr, 7.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.8 rpg

Sixth man — G, Allen Huddleston, 6-2, Jr, 9.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.9 apg

Best name: Broderick Newbill, G, 6-5, Fr

Extra storyline: Both schools share an icon in former coach Jerry Tarkanian, to the point that there’s a Tark suite at my hotel. Tark was at UNLV from 1973-92 and then at Fresno from 95-02, taking the Bulldogs to two NCAA Tournaments during that time.

Useless Wikipedia factoid: The school has a main campus and then an additional University Farm, which is nearly three times as large as the main campus and contains student-run chicken, dairy and sheep units, among other things.

Kenpom line: UNLV -8

Vegas line: UNLV -8.5

Bern’s take: I wouldn’t bet on UNLV on the road, but I see the Rebels easily winning this one. They’re motivated and Fresno isn’t very good. The more important question to me is what UNLV does when it comes back home Saturday against New Mexico. UNLV 68, Fresno State 58

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

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  1. Are you kidding me, playing even with the worst tean in the conference.

  2. "UNLV goes into halftime tied with Fresno State (1-6 league record)"

    Nice headline. Kick when they're down, kick 'em when they're up...

  3. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  4. Reza you are soft!!!!!!!!You're an excuse machine for this team just like the players and coaches. It's time for accountability on this team and a reality check. They are lazy, soft, and poorly coached. They are an absolute disappointment.

  5. Well I thought UNLV was going to be playing the worst team in the Mt. West conference, I was wrong, they are the worst team in the conference. New coach time or years more middle of the road seasons.

  6. Wait a minute everyone. They had a spirited practice and they are committed to playing hard and getting tougher and being accountable! Can't you tell it is working? I mean all you have to do is say the right things and everything changes...Right??!!

  7. Fresno has been getting away with murder! They have been mauling the Rebels the whole game!

  8. Being called "soft" by someone who cannot post under their real name? Hilarious!

  9. FIRE DAVE RICE!!!!!!!!!!

  10. this team just can't win away from the Mack.

  11. And Colorado State is down 10 at UNR, and UNM only leads AF by 9. It's that knd of conference. Just because the MWC doesn't get respect from the media doesn't mean it isn't the second toughest conference in the nation. See you Saturday, Rebels.

  12. Anyone want to start the coaching search? First name to roll out IMO should be Max Good.

  13. Reminds me of Bill Bayno. Great recruiter, not so great game-coach.

  14. Hello, NIT!

  15. We can't win on the road and may be in danger of being a bubble team. We can't expect to be a good team if we can't win the games we should on the road.

  16. UNLV athletics has hit rock bottom. Even the once prominent and feared basketball program is nothing but mediocrity these days. Very sad UNLV fan!

  17. We are not in danger of being on the bubble. We are on the bubble.

  18. two years on and Rice still can't figure out how to motivate this team on the road. inexcusable. unlv is the lakers of college basketball this season. lets face it, rice is a great recruiter but coach that is still trying to figure things out. no excuse for this loss tonight. the rebels just aren't a good team. they may be loaded with talent but they don't play well together. waste of a recruiting class this season.

  19. can't wait to hear rice's ho-hum response to this loss tonight. he will come out talking about how this team needs to get tougher and then proceed to do nothing about it.

  20. Comment removed by moderator. Profanity.

  21. Although I was a supporter of hiring Dave Rice two years ago, I have realized that his hiring now is a mistake. He is not a good game time coach. We seen his success as an assistant at UNLV and then BYU, we figured how could UNLV go wrong with this young, cerebral looking coach? We have found out that he is not too basketball cerebral in making game time adjustments.

  22. With Mosers injury he is not helping the team. Goodman the four star recruit, should be getting all his minutes. I predict Goodman will transfer and Lopez will graduate early and transfer also.

  23. rice's moto for this team should go from "lets run" to "lets walk", "lets miss shots", "lets not rebound or play pressing defense so that teams can slow us down in the half court and beat us".

  24. I hate to agree with the haters but this is a very poorly coached team.

  25. Is Moser and Marshall still tuning up for the NBA? Thats the funniest thing Ive ever heard only NBA those 2 will see is on play station 3. Lucky Bennett is on this team or you may have 1 conference win.

  26. Have to agree with most Rice is a glorified cheerleader on this team and is more concerned with the popular vote than getting in someones face

  27. UNLV should have listened to Tark and hired Reggie Theus

  28. Comment removed by moderator. Name Calling

  29. Anybody want to defend Rice now...?! Where are the homers?! This season is officially a disaster. Rice isn't improving. He matched Kruger's record over the last 2 seasons. This season is worse....he hasn't improved, he's regressed. What good is a good recruiting class if you can't win games?

  30. We are suck with Rice for 3 more years. seems that livinggood wanted his BYU buddy to live good too so he gave him a 5 yr contract. Rrrrring rrrrring hello, hey Rice it's provo calling they want ya back , go ahead go we wont miss ya, oh and take yopur buddy livingtoogood with ya.

  31. oops meant to say stuck

  32. I say we all go to the game on Saturday and boo Dave Rice to tears.

  33. Oh my, my, my. Absolutely pitiful. I've said it so many times before, UNLV needs a coach. Mr. Rice has no clue what to do. Good Grief.

  34. "I say we all go to the game on Saturday and boo Dave Rice to tears." totally agreed. I propose that if UNLV is behind for most of the 1st half on Saturday, the Rebillion starts chanting, Fire Dave Rice.

  35. Obviously, effort is a big problem. Aside from a lack of effort, I think I might have an idea of what the problem is. On the Rebels' roster, there's Kruger's guys and Rice's guys. Kruger's guys prefer to play a halfcourt game, whereas Rice's guys want to play an uptempo game. It shows when you watch the game. Marshall never looks to ignite a fastbreak and make an outlet pass. Three or four guys waste their energy sprinting down the court only to run a set play in the halfcourt. Reinhardt is the biggest backcourt opposite of Marshall in my opinion. He was making nice passes and looked comfortable when things sped up a little bit.

    The bottom line is that the Rebels are playing two different styles of basketball on the floor with their five players. Some are playing Kruger ball and some are playing Rice ball. Until Dave Rice can get the five guys to play as one, the team will not reach its peak. I think that the biggest downfall of Dave Rice has been his inability to fit the offense to Kruger's players while simultaneously meshing them in with his players. I know a lot of people are calling for him to be fired, but I think the results will be different when the roster is entirely his. Once again, to make this crystal clear, he lacks the ability to adjust his system to Lon Krugers' players who in no way fit this system. So, we'll see how he can coach when all of his players are fits for this offense.

  36. Can we stop pumping up this team now? This team has a legit shot to go 4-5 in this conference with the under talented Lobos coming to town. The team with so little talent all they do is win games. How about we just pump the Lobos all week when discussing the game on Saturday? Maybe that will help wake them up. I swear the gum drop lollipop articles I read here are annoying. Either this team is nowhere near as talented as people want to believe or their coach is awful. Can someone cover that topic?

  37. Booooooo

  38. @Phillips LOL come on, you can't be serious, that is the most ridiculous excuse. Kruger guys and Rice guys. I had to laugh at that one. The bottom line is UNLV needs a coach.

  39. Basketball IQ?. Two games in a row that on the last possession the first half the rebels got Justin Hawkins a three point look. He missed both.....I say this because in both games it was the first shot he had taken in the game at that point. And these were critical possessions. A hi IQ team would have got a shot for the hot player...or better shooter..lie Reinhardt, Marshall, jones.......the best teams always looks or the highest percentage shot on each possession.

  40. Ps! J hawk...we love you...but there's a reason you were open...you haven't be shooting good!! Where's the steals....where's the deflections?..that what we need from you.......Hawkins has been ice cold for bout 5'games......

  41. Forty comments? Hilarious. Might get five or ten when they win.

    It's funny how everyone is such a great couch coach, and "fans" are now called "homers." Haters love to hate -- especially anonymously.

  42. Be a true fan, show some support for these kids and quit being such haters! We have a good core of talent, more to follow next year, a great coach and we're playing in one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA.

    Does the team need to improve in some areas, yes! So how about showing up to a game and give the team and the program some support. Be a part of building the program back up, not hating and trying to tear it down.

  43. This team is just plain boring, no life to their game. Too many turnovers, dumb turnovers. We aren't in the top 25 even if it was just the west teams. They keep playing like that Difintely not making the tournament!

  44. To James Reza, stop championing the myth that the conference is the 2nd best in the nation, it's not. It's a paper tiger.

  45. True fans challenge the coach to win and get rid of him if he underperforms.....just look at the big time schools. Homers don't do that, they cheer a coach even if they suck and underperform and make excuses for them under the guise that their "cheering for the team".....if you really cared about the team you'd hold the coach accountable for their performance and make them uncomfortable so that the coach feels the heat/pressure and makes adjustments to W-I-N...! Homers only exacerbate the problem by making the coach feel comfortable and have a false sense of security that their sub-par performances are somehow OK....it's NOT OK in my book.

  46. I have an idea as to what Phillps is trying to say, and he does have his good points, which I believed once or twice, but now I don't. There is no way out of this loss, CDR I like the guy, but is not aggressive enough with his players or the refs. He does not make adjustment and just can't get these guys to win on the around. Therefore, he should IMO be fired today.

  47. Rice has been here too long. Time to move on and find a real coach to replace the one time bench warmer for the national champion team of the 90s.

  48. If Reggie Theus is such a good coach as most of you seem to think, how come he can't land a real job right now? He's coaching in the NBA D-League.