Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | 11:10 p.m.
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CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello joins Las Vegas Sun reporter Taylor Bern to discuss UNLV's seeding possibilities in Part One, and then at the 15:30 mark Taylor is joined by SI.com's Andy Glockner who offers his insight to the Mountain West's collective standing as we approach tournament time. All rights for the intro, outro and intermission music to alt-J, so go buy their album.
- Instant Analysis: Rebels continue late-season charge by rallying past Boise State for hard-fought win
- Box Score: UNLV 68, Boise State 64
- Boise State comes to UNLV looking for one more statement victory
- UNLV Extras: Rebels control their destiny for the 2 seed in league tournament
- Moser opens March with a return to form in UNLV’s romp at UNR
- Rebels in good tournament seeding position with chances left to improve
- How does Rebels’ Bennett stack up against nation’s elite freshmen?
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
Anthony Marshall’s regular season finale as a Rebel isn’t for a few more days when Fresno State comes to the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday afternoon. If he could choose, though, Marshall would likely handpick Tuesday night’s performance as the one he wants UNLV fans to remember once he’s gone.
It didn’t contain the singular highlight of the game-winning jumper against Colorado State or the big dunk last year against North Carolina. What his game did feature was an all-around performance that should be admired for the decisions he made (read: great passes) more than the shots he made.
With the Rebels (23-7, 10-5) trailing Boise State (20-9, 8-7) by 10 and about nine minutes left, Marshall entered full takeover mode. He had a direct hand in 15 of the Rebels’ final 31 points, scoring eight himself and dishing out three assists.
Katin Reinhardt’s surge after missing his first seven shots included the decisive blow, a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left that bounced off the front rim, hit the backboard and dropped in, but Reinhardt and the Rebels aren’t in that position without Marshall.
“I tried to do whatever we needed,” said Marshall, who finished with 16 points, five rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers in 37 minutes.
His only missed shot was in the first half and Marshall put the Rebels ahead for good with 3:20 left when he moved left to right across the lane and hit a layup while drawing a fifth foul on Derrick Marks, the Broncos’ second-leading scorer. Marshall would hit the free throw, part of a 16-for-17 second-half effort at the free-throw line for the Rebels, who were the benefactors of a decided home-court fouls advantage.
UNLV finished 22-for-28 while Boise State was 7-of-10. Part of that, though, was by design. The Broncos were 13-for-25 on 3-point attempts, a mark you rarely see in a loss. And the Rebels knew the smaller lineup would give them a chance to make plays in the lane.
“I felt like this was a team we could really attack the rim against,” Marshall said.
Although UNLV’s Khem Birch started the game at center, coach Dave Rice quickly went to a smaller lineup that would be commonplace the rest of the game. Anthony Bennett, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, played a lot of center, sometimes with Justin Hawkins at power forward.
That only did so much, though, as Boise State started the game on a 7-0 run, and after a swoon midway through the second half, it finished above 50 percent behind the three-point line thanks mostly to Jeff Elorriaga (19 points).
As the Rebels tried to make their charge for the win, Elorriaga countered with three straight 3-pointers that didn’t touch the rim, the last one a dead-on bank shot. That put the Broncos up by six before Marshall eventually carried the Rebels over the top.
“There are a lot of teams on a night like tonight … that probably would have chalked it up and said it’s not our night,” Rice said. “But we’re not that way.”
The Rebels missed a ton of open looks the whole game. Hawkins, who’s now 0-for-24 on 3-point attempts his last 11 games, missed multiple layups while Mike Moser on one possession with about 15 minutes left missed three straight shots right at the rim. The possession eventually ended with a Reinhardt turnover, the last any Rebel would commit for the game. That was another big key as UNLV finished with just 10 turnovers.
Other than individual performances — Bryce Dejean-Jones was great at both ends, finishing with 16 points and five assists with no turnovers while Reinhardt scored 11, all in the second half — the biggest takeaways for the Rebels were how resilient they played down the stretch and the control they maintained while the Broncos continued to drop in 3-pointers.
“Never a time in the huddle that our guys didn’t think we were going to win the game,” Rice said.
Reinhardt said his coaches and teammates kept telling him to shoot despite all his early misfires. On Reinhardt’s dagger 3-pointer, Hawkins caught the ball in the corner off a dribble-drive. Not long ago Hawkins probably takes that shot, but Tuesday he made one more pass to the wing where Reinhardt said it felt great off his hand.
“I knew it was going in,” said Reinhardt, fortuitous bounce be damned.
Eventually, Rice said, he wants the Rebels to be the ones dictating matchups to their opponents, not the other way around. That day isn’t here yet, though, and even with the smaller, quicker lineup the Broncos still tied Canisius for the most made 3-pointers against UNLV this season.
What is here is the requisite fight from the Rebels to win a game Marshall said he didn’t think the team would have won earlier this season. With just more than a minute left Marshall fouled out another Bronco, Anthony Drmic (22 points), on a drive to the basket.
Marshall’s relentless attacks and good decision-making were the biggest keys to a fifth straight victory that moves the Rebels into sole possession of second place in the Mountain West, at least for a day. On Saturday he’ll try to do it again for win No. 6.
“I’m just trying to cherish these last couple of home games I’ve got,” Marshall said.
This was a good way to start.