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Colorado State 83 – UNLV 82

February 8, 2015

The stage was set.

UNLV, coming off a bye and currently riding a 3-game MWC winning streak after a slow start. And living with the promise of star CHritian Wood that they would not lose another game this year.

CSU coming off a tough, emotional loss to rival Wyoming and looking to keep their conference title hopes alive.

Something had to give.

And give it did early as UNLV raced to an early 29-11 lead inside the game’s first 10 minutes. The Rebels could do no wrong as they made shots from the perimeter and scored easily at the rim in transition. And with each substitution made by Larry Eustachy, the Rams looked to be losing even more traction.

And then the game turned in CSU’s favor

It wasn’t any one play or player. It was a team that started to pass the ball on offense to create easier looks at the rm. And a team that started to apply a little more pressure on the ball defensively, taking the Rebels out of their rhythm.

A tweet from a Coloradoan reporter saying the Rams needed to get it back inside 10 by half. A tweet by former player describing how CSU had come back from a 20+ point lead against UNLV at Moby just a few short years ago so there was nothing to worry about.

The Rams got the deficit inside 10, then closed the half on a big run that got the deficit to 2 at 41-39 when Stanton Kidd droped a three-ball at the buzzer. The Orange Out crowd erupted, sending the Rams sprinting into the locker room for the break.

The Rams looked energized and UNLV looked like their energy was sapped.

The Rams scored the first 7 of the second half to take a 46-41 lead and it looked like they might blow the game open. It wasn’t to be as UNLV clawed their way back into the game led by freshman Rashad Vaughn who refused to miss from the perimeter. The Rebels forged into the lead again and the Rams stayed with them.

The teams played The last several minutes within 4 points of each other and there were ebbs and flows that were not for the weak hearted.

It was NERVY in Moby!

And it was great when CSU pushed the lead to 4, only to see UNLV frosh Pat McCaw bank in a three-ball. And when Daniel Bejarano missed a difficult jumper and UNLV was awarded the ball with 9 seconds on the clock, a Rebel upset was very much in the cards.

The Rams did a great job denying the ball to Vaughn and when the officials overlooked a travel by UNLV guard Cody Doolin, the ball went to the wing to guard Jordan Cornish, he with a 49% shooting percentage from the perimeter, for an open look.

The crowd was standing with their collective hearts in their throats as Cornish let the shot go. It hit the rim, bounded in the air, JJ Avila grabbed the rebound and when the final buzzer sounded, he sent the ball flying into the stands.

It was happiness for all but the black-clad Rebels, who had come to play but fell one point short to Team Together. The Rams had come from 18 down and recorded a famous victory, moving their season record to 20-4, 7-4.

More thoughts… The Rams had their firepower and balance on display today. Stanton Kidd with 19 and 6. Daniel Bejarano with 18 and 9. JJ Avila with a near triple-double with 15, 11, and 7. Gian Clavell and John Gillon with 10 and 9 respectively off the bench. But it was team effort on the glass where the Rams gained a 44-34 edge and a team effort in sharing the ball with the Rams recording 24 assists on 32 made baskets, a remarkable 75%!

UNLV is loaded with young players and the two best are freshman shooting guard Rashad Vaughn and sophomore forward Christian Wood. Vaughn scored 30 points on the day making 6-10 from the perimeter and scoring in the paint on a variety of slick moves. Wood showed a nice touch from the perimeter and used his length well around the basket on his way to scoring 16 and grabbing 11 rebounds. Both have a good shot at playing in the NBA. Vaughn is a lottery pick waiting to happen. His game in Moby was way more impressive than the Rebels’ Anthony Bennett who was the first overall pick in the NBA two short years ago.

One final thought… It was a great win for the Rams but it would have been a huge disappointment if Cornish had made that shot. It should never have come to that. The Rams got back in the game by defending with great energy. Once they got into the lead, their defense slacked off and they let UNLV back in the game. Great shooting by the Rebels for sure but not enough effort by the Rams to make their looks more difficult. If the Rams want to keep winning, they can’t get comfortable on the defensive end. They need to get into the faces of their opponents when they have the lead just as hard as they do when they’re down 18.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim Miles permalink
    February 8, 2015 5:31 am

    I think I saw you in the stands on t.v. Where you the one wearing an orange shirt?

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