UNLV vs Fresno State Recap

by Jake Runyon

Remember how against Utah State, our perimeter defense was really good. Utah State is the best 3-point shooting team in the MWC, and we locked them down to just 2/17 from beyond the arc?


The Fresno State game was a lot different.

UNLV was able to stave off a feisty Fresno State team to walk away with a 75-73 OT win.

The bulldogs got off to hot start from deep and went into halftime with a 6 point lead.

UNLV played more assertively in the second half, and were able to takeover, but those dang Bulldogs just wouldn’t go away. Sometime after Alex Davis’ hundredth tenth offensive rebound, the game went into OT.

Now I love Bryce Dejean Jones, but he wasn’t on his game tonight. I blame it on the staples in his head.



(Photo Credit: Steve Guiremand)

He couldn’t get anything going all night. After a 3 point attempt that failed to even hit rim on a wide-open 3, I think just about everyone had given up on him.

Then, redemption occurred.

Down 72-70, Bryce knocked down a deep 3 to give UNLV the lead for good, and just like that, he became the hero.

With a 74-72 lead, Khem Kong lept up  from the Empire State Building and swatted a plane from the sky swatted a Cesar Guerrero layup attempt to seal the game.


(Photo Credit: The Rebellion)

UNLV picked up the sweep against Fresno State this year and moved to 13-7 (4-3).


-Deville Smith is half man, half animal. A manimal.
-Khem Birch showed no mercy. He finished the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
-UNLV only committed  6 turnovers in 45 minutes of basketball.
-Tyler Johnson tried to take the title of worst/best dunk title away from Adam Waddell, but nothing will ever beat this:

MWC Power Rankings

by Jake Runyon

1. San Diego State: They are the best team in the conference and a top ten team in the country. Every time they win, a part of my soul dies. Steve Fisher has to suck out the soul of UNLV fans to stay alive. Steve Fisher is a dementor.

Steve Fisher SDSU Day

2. New Mexico: Three road games, three wins. That is a recipe for success in conference play. UNLV exposed some weaknesses, but the Lobos have the most experience of all the teams in the conference. Also, I am putting out an APB for last year’s MWC POY, Kendall Williams. Where you at?

3. Boise State: One and two is easy. It starts getting dicey from here on out. I put the Broncos here because of Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic. By the way, anyone else think that Anthony Drmic looks like a member of boy band?

4. UNR: Who are these guys? They lose Cal State Bakersfield, but then smashed UNLV in vegas? And does anyone else feel like Deonte Burton has been at UNR for like 6 years now?

5. UNLV: The Runnin Rebels are at crossroads again. They can roll over and die, and let the calendar slip into February and March, or they can go down swinging.
Are we sure that Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins don’t have another year of eligibility?

6. Colorado State: People are not talking about how good a job Larry Eustachy has done. They lost nearly all their production from last season but they still are a very competitive team. I honestly thought CSU would be one of the worst teams in the conference this year. Easy on the diet pepsi though, Larry.


7. Utah State: The jury is still out with Utah State. Until I see them against UNM or SDSU, I am playing it safe and putting them in the middle of the pack. Also, I think everybody has a family member that looks like Stew Morrill (See below).

NCAA Basketball: Division I Championship-Utah State Practice

(Photo Credit: LA Times)

8. Air Force: Ugh. The Falcons. Nobody looks at their schedule and says “Oh sweet! We got Air Force tonight.” because everybody knows that Air Force are a bunch of nerds who play smart, play physical, and love ‘Merica.

9. Wyoming: There is not a team that I know less about than Wyoming. All I know is that no team has a worse name for their venue. Arena-Auditorium? Really, there aren’t any businesses that want to buy the naming rights?

10. Fresno State: Someday the Bulldogs will be relevant in hoops. This year is not that year.

11. San Jose State: I am throwing this idea out there: Rashad Muhammedcould have a longer NBA career than his older brother.


UNLV @ SDSU Grades

by Jake Runyon

NOTE: After big games, I like to give out grades for UNLV. These are my opinions, and I love all the players as if they were in my own family (THAT MEANS I’LL DEFEND ALL OF THEM WITH MY LIFE!) Also note that I am not an expert. My basketball experience is limited to the occasional game of church ball, where I am usually the Brian Scalabrine of the team.

Roscoe Smith, B: Roscoe was the only rebel capable of knocking down shots early on in the first half. He also recorded his 12th double-double of the season. I wish I could have seen the ball in his hands more.

Khem Birch, B-: Another SDSU game, another game with 5 blocks. Khem made a huge impact on the defensive end. Couldn’t get much going on offense. Everytime he got the ball down low, SDSU would double him. He got into a little foul trouble that kept him off the floor midway in the 2nd half.

Deville Smith, C-: He made some big shots in the second half, but he missed a few shots that were gimmes. He did a good job defending the much bigger guards of SDSU.

Kevin Olekaibe, Incomplete: Simply put, KO was invisible out there on the floor. Credit that to the SDSU defense that never let KO find space. He just didn’t do enough to warrant discussion.

Bryce Dejean-Jones: C: BDJ left it all out on the floor. I don’t think a player for either team worked harder than Bryce. In fact, sometimes Bryce was going too hard. There were moments when it felt like Bryce was about to snatch the game back from SDSU, but the Aztec’s would stop the bleeding, and extend the lead again.

Carlos Lopez-Sosa, D-: Carlos only got two minutes to work with, and unfortunately for him, they two ugly minutes. 3 fouls. But I still carry the flag in the Carlos fan club!

Christian Wood, C+: Every time Khem came off the floor I worried. But Christian did a pretty good job as a reserve. I don’t think his stat-line really indicates his impact. Can’t wait to see Christian Wood’s career. He has such a high ceiling.

Jelan Kendrick, C-: Jelan has always had a very understated game. To appreciate how good a player he is, you have to actually look for it, because it doesn’t jump out at you. He didn’t shoot well tonight, no way around that, but I felt comfortable with him on the floor.

Coaching Staff, B-:  I felt the team was well prepared. I liked the way we approached things offensively, we just missed too many shots. What was good? Defense, gameplan, composure. What was bad? Poor adjustments for Josh Davis.

UNLV @ San Diego State Recap

by Jake Runyon

I had predicted a UNLV victory. I was wrong. Very wrong. I ain’t mad though. Someone left the AC on in UNLV’s locker room, and the Rebels came out cold to start the game. UNLV could not overcome going 21/70 from the field (2/18 from beyond the arc) and dropped to 11-7 (2-3) with a 63-52.

The game was essentially won when SDSU broke open a 9-9 tie with 19-2 run midway through the first half. Even though UNLV improved throughout the game, the margin was just too much to overcome against the nations #1 defense.

Josh Davis led the Aztec’s with 14 points, and 14 rebounds (6 offensive). He clearly was causing headaches all day for UNLV down low. This caught me off guard. It was the first time all year that anybody had been able to push Roscoe and Khem around.


(Photo Credit: Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)

Deville Smith and Bryce Dejean Jones had their moments, but a combined 12/44 won’t get the job done. Ever.


(Photo Credit: Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)

Next up for UNLV is the return of former rival, Utah State, January 22nd at the Thomas and Mack Center.


UNLV @ SDSU preview

by Jake Runyon

I might be crazy, but I EXPECT UNLV to win this weekend at San Diego State. You can call me a homer if you want. You might be right. 

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(Photo cred: my smokin hot wife)

San Diego State comes into this game 15-1. Their lone loss of the season was against Arizona back in November. Just a few weeks ago they were able to beat Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, which is a very rare accomplishment. They are a long and athletic team that plays very good defense, and loves to play physical. 

UNLV has been bipolar this season, but it has had some bright spots. The brightest being on Wednesday, when the Runnin Rebs were able to pull off a HUGE road win against New Mexico. Truthfully, UNLV has been a much better team on the road than they have been at home this year. Our lone road loss was in Tucson against Arizona in a game that UNLV was in a good position to win. 

Here are some arguments to why we will win:

-Dave Rice has SDSU’s number.  The Aztecs have been outcoached by Dave Rice, dating back to his time as an assistant at BYU.
-Josh Davis can rebound well but he won’t be getting to as many rebounds between Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith.
-Xavier Thames struggles against UNLV. Career numbers vs UNLV: 7/29, 21 total points, 12 Turnovers in four total games.
-With the exception of Arizona and Kansas, they haven’t played against a team as athletic as UNLV.
-Khem Birch had 5 blocks in each game last year versus SDSU. He altered plenty more than that.


(Photo Cred: Jake Roth, USA Today)


Bottom line: I think this game will look a lot like the game vs New Mexico, but the scoring will be lower. SDSU plays better defense than UNM, and while they can get out and play in transition, they mostly slow it down offensively. I expect our bigs to have a great game. Josh Davis and JJ Obrien are good players, but Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk are better. The real question is how our guards matchup with Xavier Thames and Winston Shepard. My biggest fear is SDSU playing small,and forcing Birch to leave the paint, leaving the lane vulnerable to back-door cuts, and slashes. If KO and Deville get hot, it really opens the floor up for Jelan and Bryce’s midrange game. The game will come down to how well our guards play against Shepard and Thames. Those two are capable of spoiling the Rebels trip to San Diego.

Final Prediction: UNLV 68, SDSU 65

UNLV, and I still believe this, is the most talented team in the conference. We are HUGE UNDERACHIEVERS. At this point in the season, we have to win. I think our only shot of making the tournament is to finish the regular season with 25 wins (including the MWC tournament) and I think UNLV will find win #12 tomorrow in San Diego. 

FotoFlexer_Photo-Dave-Rice-11-2-121 What you smiling about Dave?

(Photo Cred: talkaboutvegas.com)

UNLV vs New Mexico recap

by Jake Runyon


 I finally figured it out. Or better said, UNLV finally figured it out.

Urgency! They’ve lacked it. They found some Wednesday at the Pit vs New Mexico and managed to pull off a very impressive road victory.

They lacked urgency for the entire first half of the season. You could see it in the way they played; poorly executed offensive possessions, and a lackadaisical attitude on defense.
That wasn’t the case at New Mexico. Fewer bad shot selections, and an intensity we haven’t seen on defense, especially in the second half.

The Rebels started out hot. After taking the lead 10-9 early in the first half, the rebels never trailed the rest of the game. In the first five minutes it felt like both teams were scoring at will. The rebels were really able to take over with a 20-3 run when UNM star, Cameron Bairstow went to the bench with early foul trouble. The biggest play of the first half was when Bryce Dejean Jones knocked a pass away and finished with a nasty dunk (AND 1!!).



At that point my brother sent me a text, and I’m paraphrasing, “Is this what it was like to watch UNLV in 1991.” I had to tell him to slow down a bit. It was 10 minutes of the first half. A talented, and well-coached team in UNM crawled back, and got to within four points before halftime.

The second half was a tug of war. When UNLV would pull ahead by 8 or 9 points, UNM would score on back to back possessions and keep it within 4 points. This pattern would continue late into the game. UNM eventually got within one point, but BDJ and Deville Smith came up clutch at the FT line. A desperate, baseline 3-point attempt from Cullen Neil came up short, and UNLV walked away victorious.


Photo Credit: Review Journal


 Photo Credit: Review Journal

Dave Rice was very complimentary of Carlos Lopez-Sosa who played his most minutes of the season and did a great job on the defensive end of the floor.  Other players who played great were Bryce Dejean Jones (11/13 from the FT), Deville Smith (10 points in the second half), Jelan Kendrick, Khem Birch (11 rebounds, 11 points) and Kevin Olekaibe (4/5 from 3 pointer).

What does this win mean for the rest of season? It could mean everything, or it could mean nothing. It all depends on how UNLV responds. They can ride the momentum and turn the season around, or they deflate, and get closer to that NIT bid.  They have a great opportunity to continue to resurrect the season if they can pull off another road win Saturday, vs SDSU. We’ll see if they still have that sense of urgency.