UNLV basketball:

Blog: Rebels’ depth key in 10-point victory against Colorado State

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall, left, and forward Khem Birch defend Colorado State forward Colton Iverson during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Friday, March 15, 2013 | 10:48 p.m.

MWC Tournament: UNLV vs. Colorado State

UNLV forward Anthony Bennett is defended by Colorado State forward Greg Smith during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

UNLV 75, Colorado State 65

Game over

Anthony Bennett scored 19 points on eight shots while Katin Reinhardt led UNLV with 21 points in a 10-point victory against Colorado State that sends the Rebels to tomorrow afternoon's Mountain West tournament final against New Mexico. The game is at 3 p.m. on CBS.

Colton Iverson led Colorado State all game but once Dorian Green limped out of the game the Rams weren't the same, going nearly the entire final six minutes without making a basket.

Bennett and Reinhardt both made big shots in the final minutes, as did Anthony Marshall and Bryce Dejean-Jones. However, the underrated Rebel was Quintrell Thomas, who played big minutes in place of Khem Birch, who missed most of the game with foul trouble.

Fouls dominated the game nearly the entire way, from Larry Eustachy's technical to both Birch and Bennett playing with at least three fouls nearly the entire second half. In the end it was the Rebels' depth that won the game because they were able to overcome those obstacles much better than the Rams.

Tomorrow's game is going to be an amazing atmosphere as New Mexico has been by far the loudest cheering section so far at the tournament. Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight's Rebels victory.

UNLV 71, Colorado State 61

2:11 remaining in the second half

The Rebels are starting to pull away from the Rams thanks to the guys who got them here: Katin Reinhardt and Anthony Bennett.

Both guys scored important baskets in the paint on transition possessions, and despite giving up a ton of offensive rebounds the Rebels aren't giving away much in terms of second chance points. The Rams are going to have to make a big-time run to make this a game at the end.

UNLV 60, Colorado State 54

7:07 remaining in the second half

In the second half UNLV is 0-for-6 on three-point attempts and Anthony Bennett hasn't attempted a shot but the Rebels still hold a six-point lead over Colorado State.

Katin Reinhardt now has 19 points while Colton Iverson continues to cause all kinds of problems with 22 points and 15 rebounds. One of his drives drew a fourth foul on Khem Birch, meaning we likely won't see him until the final stretch.

In his place Quintrell Thomas has played well but it's not the same. UNLV may very well depend on Birch altering a shot or two in the final minutes in order to win.

UNLV 47, Colorado State 44

15:19 remaining in the second half

Khem Birch picked up his third foul less than three minutes into the second half, hindering both him and teammate Anthony Bennett, who also has three fouls.

UNLV has tried to get through that with more minutes from Quintrell Thomas and Savon Goodman who both sat out the entire quarterfinal victory against Air Force.

Other than fouls the story has been defense and missed opportunities. Mike Moser is making great moves but struggling to finish and Bryce Dejean-Jones has lost the handle on a couple of open looks, including what would have been a dunk to finish an alley-oop. The Rams countered that play with a Daniel Bejarano 3-pointer that cut the deficit to three. Bejarano got that look because UNLV has softened on the outside as they try to control Colton Iverson down low.

UNLV 42, Colorado State 36

Halftime

Katin Reinhardt has 16 points, Anthony Bennett has scored 13 and UNLV takes a six-point lead into halftime against Colorado State.

The Rams' Colton Iverson had a shot just before halftime waved off but he still finished the first half with 17 points and eight rebounds. I'm pretty sure he scored all but two of those points with Khem Birch on the bench, where he spent all but four minutes because of foul trouble. Birch has two fouls while Bennett picked up his third with a couple of minutes to play. Bryce Dejean-Jones also has two fouls, though his absence wouldn't matter nearly as much as Birch and Bennett.

UNLV is 7-for-12 on three-point attempts, most of them coming from the team's leading scorers. While that's obviously good there's a danger that UNLV could fall in love with the outside shot instead of looking for interior passes. Unless they shoot 58.3 percent again in the second half, that could be a problem.

Colorado State is leading UNLV 22-6 on points scored in the paint and 10-2 on second-chance points, the fruits of their effort on the glass. The Rams lead overall rebounding 21-16 and offensive boards 9-4.

Controlling Iverson has to be at the top of the Rebels' priorities. Whether that's getting lucky with Birch being able to play for longer stretches or crashing double teams I don't know, but UNLV has to come up with an answer inside.

UNLV 23, Colorado State 21

7:39 remaining in the first half

Fouls are dictating the action now in the Mack following Larry Eustachy's entertaining blowup and subsequent technical foul.

Eustachy didn't like a call that allowed Anthony Marshall to get an and-one, and he voiced his displeasure with such volume the refs quickly T'd him up. It worked, though, as the next six fouls calls all went on UNLV, evening the total up between the teams.

That's a tactic opponents won't like but it's a smart one. In actual game action the Rams took advantage of Khem Birch sitting with two fouls and went back to attacking the basket. The Rebels really need Birch in the game as much as possible.

Colorado State 10, UNLV 9

15:23 remaining in the first half

Dorian Green did end up starting for Colorado State, but the guy making the bigger impact is the big man in the middle as Colton Iverson has six points.

Khem Birch came off the bench and will be counted on to cool down Iverson's hot start. He's going to need some help from the Rebels' perimeter defenders, who have already taken an earful from coach Dave Rice imploring them to play with more effort.

15 minutes until tip-off: CSU's Green expected to start

As we get closer to game time the Coloradoan has changed its story to report Colorado State senior point guard Dorian Green will not only play but start tonight's game.

Green is out on the court for warmups and appears to have only a little extra support on his injured ankle. His health should be put to the test early by UNLV guards going off the dribble.

One hour til tip-off: Green expected to play

Colorado State senior point guard Dorian Green will suit up and try to play, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Green, who injured his ankle in the regular season finale against UNR, missed the first game of his career in the quarterfinals. After CSU coach Larry Eustachy had said he was 99.9 percent sure Green wouldn’t play in the semifinals, Green practice Thursday and said he would try to play.

That appears like it will be the case, although regular backup Jon Octeus is still expected to start, according to the Coloradoan.

Rams' health big factor entering UNLV-CSU semifinals showdown

A player who doesn’t play a minute may very well decide tonight’s 3-seed UNLV vs. 2-seed Colorado State outcome in the Mountain West tournament.

The Rams’ Dorian Green is a game-time decision for the semifinal showdown scheduled to start at about 8:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network in the Thomas & Mack Center. Top-seeded New Mexico plays 4-seed San Diego State in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.

If Green plays, all bets are off. The Rams’ point guard had started 127 consecutive games before missing the quarterfinal victory against Fresno State and he’s as big a key to what Colorado State does as anyone short of center Colton Iverson.

If he doesn’t play, this is UNLV’s game to lose. While backup Jon Octeus was good in Green’s place against the Bulldogs, there’s a big difference between playing well against those guys and doing it against Anthony Marshall.

Without Green, who’s known more for offense but isn’t a slouch on defense, the Rebels should be able to get into the lane more easily, setting up a lot of offensive opportunities. When fully healthy the Rams go basically only seven deep, including Octeus bringing up the rear with 17.4 minutes per game in conference play. That means suddenly relying on guys who haven’t been more than limited role players the whole season.

Whether Green plays or not, the matchup to keep an eye on is Iverson against UNLV’s big men. The Rebels will likely throw Anthony Bennett, Khem Birch and Quintrell Thomas at Iverson in waves, and the defensive scheme will probably include several double teams, too. Doing anything less is inviting Iverson to dominate the game.

The Rebels already got lucky with injuries once when two Air Force starters went down. Even UNLV and most of its fans would like to see Green play just to make the game a challenge to overcome instead of a game to get through. Beating a Green-less Rams team probably doesn’t do UNLV any good in terms of seeding or preparation for the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s hoping we see him play.

THE OTHER SIDE

Colorado State projected lineup

G — Dorian Green, 6-2, Sr, 13.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.1 apg

G — Wes Eikmeier, 6-3, Sr, 14.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 94.5 ft%

F — Greg Smith, 6-6, Sr, 10.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 46.9 fg%

F — Pierce Hornung, 6-5, Sr, 8.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.8 apg

F — Colton Iverson, 6-10, Sr, 14.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 60.6 fg%

Sixth man — G, Daniel Bejarano, 6-4, So, 5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 26.7 3fg%

*Stats from conference games only

Regular season

1/19 at Colorado StateUNLV couldn’t keep Colorado State from playing its game in road loss

2/20 at UNLVMarshall lifts UNLV to victory in home battle against Colorado State

Kenpom line: UNLV -2

Vegas line: UNLV -5

Bern’s pick: UNLV 68, Colorado State 62

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

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  1. The Rebels need to test Green's ankle early and often.

  2. Career night from Katin Reinhardt.

  3. Re-bels!

    (Where the haters at?)

  4. You are a fraud Reza. The"haters" care more than you do, Mr. Oblivious. The "haters" are very happy about the Rebels outstanding effort last night. It wasn't pretty, it lmost never is. But the heart was showing! Go get those Lobos, Rebs!! Play together, play the tough D, own the boards, and you will do it.

    Great job of getting up in some faces, Coach! It works!