by Jake Runyon
I walked out the Thomas and Mack last night. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t surprised. I was confused. I was perplexed. I just walked, silently staring into space in front of me. It was when I was almost struck by an oncoming car that I stopped my zombie-esque walk. If it wasn’t for that, I’m pretty sure I would have walked right onto the tarmac at McCarron.
The whole game felt weird. The refs called fouls on plays that shouldn’t have been fouls, and then swallowed their whistles on obvious calls. My favorite was when Cullen Neal committed a charge (uncalled), got his own rebound, traveled (uncalled), dribbled, traveled again (uncalled), and then UNM knocked down a 3 pointer.
UNM got off to a quick start and offensively, they were getting whatever they wanted. Especially Kendall Williams, who backed up his trash talking with 8 points in the first ten minutes of the game (17 at the break).
Things were the exact opposite for the UNLV to start off. UNLV could not score from anywhere, and when I say anywhere, I mean anywhere. Missed layups, shots from the elbow, wing, beyond the arc. Even free throws. If I’m not mistaken, at one point UNLV missed 6 FTs in a row. (8-18 at Halftime). In this weird 1st half, where their didn’t seem to be any ebb and flow, UNLV somehow found itself down by 9. They were fortunate not to be down by more.
(Photo Credit: Las Vegas Sun)
After a couple missed calls in a row, UNLV turned a uncalled mugging of Alex Kirk into a fast break dunk on the other end. A frustrated Craig Neal was called for a technical foul. UNLV was able to pull within 7 points, but Kendall Williams was able to essentially put the game on ice with back to back baskets.
-What is Cameron Bairstow’s secret? He went from being a mediocre big man, to being the most dominant big man in the conference.
(Photo Credit: Las Vegas Sun)
-New Mexico outplayed UNLV, but I feel like if the game got off to a more standard start officiating wise, and UNLV knocked just a few more FTs, that it would have been a much more competitive game.
-Demetris Morant showed why he hasn’t been getting much run in games. In the two minutes he played, he a had +- of negative 8.
-I was right about one thing; Cullen Neal is a terrible basketball player.
-UNLV is inconsistent, but I think the blame falls more on the players than the coaching staff.
-Brent Musberger stared at the Rebels Girls during their dance.
-All of the Lobo fans in the crowd (not as many as I expected), fit the cliche of UNM fans. Old, and if they weren’t old, they looked like Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad
-Kendall Williams is certified douche-bag whose face resembles a cartoon devil.
by Jake Runyon
“Everyone’s a ‘Buzz’s girlfriend’… Woof woof woof”.
I like that version better than New Mexico’s stupid chant.
Now I won’t lie. I respect New Mexico’s fans. They are loyal to their team, and loyal to the conference, and they aren’t all meth heads. In fact, most of them are just old grandma and grandpas.
Tomorrow night the Lobos come into town, which means two things for the Las Vegas economy:
1). Casinos will make a lot of money off New Mexicans.
2). KOA Campgrounds and Circus Circus will see a boom in occupancy.
It also means that there will be a very entertaining basketball game at the Thomas and Mack.
These are what to look out for:
-The most important matchup with be Birch/Smith vs Bairstow/Kirk. It isn’t necessarily about which duo will outplay the other, but which duo will do a better job staying out of foul trouble. Smith and Bairstow are both very efficient players. Birch and Kirk are the two best shot blockers in the conference.
-All I want, more than anything, is for Cullen Neal to be on the floor as much as possible for UNM. He cant guard BDJ or Deville. What does Cullen Neal, and my favorite breakfast food have in common? They are both toast.
-Craig Neal inherited the head coaching job at New Mexico and, apparently, everything that comes with it. I’m talking about his hair cut. Is it in his contract that he needs to have a dopey middle part like Alford? And what is up with the grey hair. He is only 50 years old.
-Kendall Williams has somehow put together a better season than he did last year, and no one is talking about it. He didn’t deserve the POY last year but somehow got it based off one game against Colorado State. It’s like the Johnny Manziel of Mountain West basketball.
-BRING YOUR BROOMSTICKS AND SWIFFER WETJETS! IT’S GONNA BE A SWEEP!
Have you ever seen the Bachelor? It is okay if you haven’t. It is this show that white girl’s love where a some dude picks between a group of women who he wants to marry. I know, us white people be crazy.
Well, you’re kind of like the Bachelor. You have your choice between a pretty large group of schools. You’ve narrowed down your choice, and the final rose ceremony is coming up and its time for you make a decision. So let me make a case for why you should choose UNLV.
Let me start off by saying that I have nothing bad to say about Iowa State, Kentucky, or North Carolina. The only negative things about those schools are that they aren’t UNLV.
So why should you choose UNLV:
-Because Dwayne Morgan, Goodluck Okonoboh, and yourself would be like the Three Musketeers of freshman basketball players. (The three swordsman, not the delicious chocolate bar)
-Khem Birch, Roscoe Smith, Deville Smith, Bryce Dejean Jones, Kendall Smith, Daquan Cook, Jelan Kendrick, Christian Wood, Etc.
-Because Vegas is a nice place to live. But you already know that. While back east they are digging themselves out of snow all winter, here in Vegas you can go golfing.
-Because we need a scorer. Not just a shooter, not a slasher. But a person who is capable of scoring wherever, whenever, and however. You’d have an immediate impact and role on the team.
-Because UNLV is bound to make a big run. Lets face it, UNLV has disappointed in March Madness. We’re bound to breakthrough eventually, and you can be the catalyst to make it happen.
-Because it worked for Anthony Bennett, who was in a very similar circumstance as yourself.
-Because the Thomas and Mack Center is a great place to play basketball. Rupp Arena, The Dean Dome, and Hilton Magic may have its luster, but we have fireworks. Indoors.
-Because that game you came to, the Dixie State game. That was an exhibition game, and it was a fluke. I promise.
-Because the Rebellion. Have you seen Khem Kong? If you play your cards right, you could get your own monster replica. Maybe something like Count Vaughncula, Rashadnado or Wreck It Rashad. (It only took me two minutes to come up three potential nicknames.)
-Because if you stay in Vegas, you don’t have to move cross-country. Which is probably really annoying.
The bottom line is that UNLV is good fit for you. It is a win-win for both UNLV and for you. UNLV wins game, adds another legend, and you become part of the rebel family.
And if in the end, you don’t think UNLV is the right place for you. Thats okay. We’ll wish you success in your collegiate and professional career, and hope that you can always think of Vegas as your home.
We’ll be waiting patiently until Tuesday when you announce.
Roscoe Smith, C: It was clear from the beginning of this game that Boise State’s gameplan was to limit Roscoe Smith’s impact on the glass. They were able to get him into foul trouble, and off the floor.
Khem Birch, A: Birch did it all tonight for UNLV. 15 points, 15 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 2 steals.
Deville Smith, B: Deville is the anchor for the rebels. We do as good as he does. In the first half when he struggled, we struggled. In the second half when he found a way to make plays, everyone else made plays.
Kevin Olekaibe, A: KO was a portrait of efficiency tonight. He struggled at times defensively, but he made plays on offense; none bigger than the two late 3-pointers he hit late in the second half.
Bryce Dejean-Jones, B: Another night that Bryce struggled shooting from the field, but his impact was big defensively. He spent a large portion of the night matched up with Anthony Drmic. BDJ limited him to just 4 points, and was able to frustrate Drmic into foul trouble and eventually fouling out.
Carlos Lopez Sosa, B+: The only bad thing to say about Carlos’ night was that he didn’t play enough. Here was every play he made:
-Shot fake, drive, layup/ foul, converts the FT
-Steal leading to points off turnover
-Travel, classic Carlos.
-On fast break, KO finds Carlos trailing, and he finishes with dunk.
Everything he did last night got the TMC to go nuts
Christian Wood, C+: My mouth waters at the future of Christian. He struggled offensively, but his impact on defense was great. With Roscoe on the bench, CW was able be effective on the glass, and he had a huge block.
Jelan Kendrick, C: He has been struggling with sickness all week, which explains his limited role.
Kendall Smith, C: Kendall has lacked some confidence offensively ever since Deville switched it into high-gear. That said, Kendall Smith did a good job defensively last night.
Daquan Cook, B-: The alleged story is that Cook got more minutes to send a message to BDJ who didn’t play well in the first half. Cook was effective in his time out there. The most important thing is that he was not a liability out there and he did a good job running the offense.
Coaching staff, B: I have never seen Dave Rice as emotional as he was last night. He was yelling more, and was letting his emotions show more than he usually does. There is no excuse for the poor effort in the first half, but the game plan was good, and the play calling in the second half was great.
by Jake Runyon
After the last media timeout of the game, I couldn’t help but notice the scores of fans that got up from their seats with the Rebels down by 11 and headed for exit signs.
I wasn’t the only one that noticed. Khem Birch looked around the stadium, so did Christian Wood, and KO.
For the rest of us that stayed in our seats, we got to enjoy one of the more memorable finishes at the Mack in recent memories.
The first half was a mess. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the singular problem was, but it was on both sides of the ball which leads me to believe it was more of an effort problem.
Early in the first half, UNLV caught a break when Jeff Elloriaga got injured on a drive. I’m glad the injury isn’t serious, but he had it coming to him. He was out of control on the drive which should have been called a charge, and then he came down hard on his hip.
The Broncos shot a blistering 53% from the field in the first half. Defensively UNLV couldn’t find any answers for Derrick Marks.
As is common with UNLV, our offense begins with our defense, and we are at our best when we are forcing turnovers, and forcing bad shots. We couldn’t do either and limped int0 halftime down 36-26.
The first 10 minutes of the second half was more of the same except we were finding some answers offensively and getting to the charity stripe which kept us in it.
At the 12 minute mark in the second half, UNLV was able to tie the game up at 46 after a 14-2 run. It didn’t take long for Boise State to go on a 11-0 run and “seem” to put the game out of reach.
After the last media timeout, when it seemed like All Was Lost (Robert Redford) UNLV went beast mode (Marshawn Lynch).
Khem Birch went 4/4 from FT line and got UNLV within 7. Two defensives stops, and KO 3 pointer, and a FT later, it was 3 point game.
Then Deville Smith happened.
In a ten second sequence, BSU saw there 3 point lead evaporate after a layup, steal, layup by Deville Smith.
(Photo Credit: Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun)
Mikey Thompson had an answer to put Boise State back up by 1 with 38 seconds left.
During a 30 second timeout, Dave Rice drew up a play for Deville Smith to drive to the basket, and kickout to KO.
Splash. That shot put UNLV up for good. Derrick Marks missed a game tying attempt, and BDJ converted two FTs to put the game out of reach (and cover the spread).
-Carlos Lopez- Sosa had some terrific minutes last night. His effort kept the team from folding and letting the game get out of reach.
(Photo Credit: Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun)
-Deville Smith has taken the reins of this team. We go as he go.
-Khem Birch continues to wreak havoc to opposing offenses. 6 more blocks. If he doesn’t win MWC defensive player of the year, I’ll be launching a formal investigation.
-Boise State forward, Nick Duncan looked like he had spent a good amount of time at Dunkin Donuts. Ya dig?
-Mikey Thompson is looking for his wallet, if you see Deville Smith, could have him give it back. Picked his pocket.
-Hey Anthony Drmic, a 2006 emo band, they want their haircut back.
(Photo Credit: BroncoSports.com)