Dave Rice has no clue how many points he scored on Jan. 26, 1991, when UNLV hung 126 points on Utah State during his senior season.
On Wednesday night, in a 124-75 thrashing of Central Arkansas, Rice’s team posted the Rebels’ highest point total since that night almost 20 years ago.
“We always talk about counting on our defense, but we never feel like we have enough points,” Rice said. “Our guys are playing with freedom, they’re playing with confidence, and we want guys to shoot the ball when they’re open. And it becomes contagious. We tell guys that being unselfish is just as contagious as being selfish.”
And in as unselfish a display as possible, the 19th-ranked Rebels (14-2) scored in front of a frenzied crowd of 14,401 at the Thomas & Mack Center at a pace not seen since those glory years two decades back.
The final box score reads like something you might find at the end of a lopsided Playstation battle.
• UNLV was 47-of-70 from the floor, and 18-of-32 from 3-point range.
• The Rebels recorded 40 assists on those 47 made baskets.
• Seven UNLV players scored in double figures, including four who came off of the bench. In all, UNLV scored 82 bench points.
Leading the way was Chace Stanback, who matched a career high — set Dec. 19 against Louisiana-Monroe — with 29 points. Stanback came off of the bench for the first time this season, which was a minor punishment for returning late from Los Angeles for Monday evening’s practice.
His points piled up quickly in 23 minutes, as he hit nine of his 11 3-point tries, including his first seven of the game. It was simply the latest installment in what is the hottest shooting streak of Stanback’s career, as he’s now 20-for-27 from 3-point range in three games since scoring just two points in 25 minutes against Illinois on Dec. 17.
As shot after shot fell, the confidence could be seen swelling from the 6-foot-8 senior, who is enjoying the finest offensive season of his collegiate career. He is now shooting 51.8 percent from the floor and an eye-popping 50 percent on 3s this season.
“I feel like I’m shooting the ball pretty well,” he said. “My teammates are finding me a lot in transition and throughout the offense. I’m just able to knock them down.”
Added Rice: “The basket is probably about 4 feet wide to his eyes right now.”
Even before Stanback got on the floor, though, the tone for how this one was going to play out was established.
An over matched Central Arkansas club came into the Mack with the goal of trying to run with UNLV, and even jumped out to an 11-6 lead. But UNLV then ratcheted up the defensive pressure on the perimeter, and a series of key turnovers forced by Mike Moser and Justin Hawkins helped spur a 21-2 run that took just over five minutes to complete.
The problem for UCA was that UNLV never slowed down, and everyone got in on the act in one way or another.
“We had a lot of fun,” Stanback said. “Sometimes, we kind of pass up our own shot to give other people shots. That’s just how we play.”
Added Moser: “I think we had them rattled offensively and we were able to create a lot of turnovers, especially in the first half. It just made it really easy to play Runnin’ Rebel basketball. As soon as the ball came off the rim, guys were gone.”
The night ended up being filled with several memorable moments that all blended together into one beautiful, offensive barrage. The Bears focusing far more on their own offense than they were on how to slow the Rebels down, and combined with UNLV’s torrid shooting from start to finish it, led to an offensive night that Rice’s team might not experience again this season.
But it served as the perfect sendoff as UNLV goes on the road for a New Year’s Eve tussle with Hawaii (7-5) at 5 p.m.
Wednesday’s notes …
• Numbers of note … Moser had 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals in 25 minutes … Carlos Lopez, Reggie Smith and Quintrell Thomas each scored 13 points off of the bench, while Hawkins and Anthony Marshall each tallied 10. Marshall also had 10 assists … Deep off the bench, Karam Mashour scored a season-high eight points in seven minutes. Freshman walk-on Wade Norman hit a late 3-pointer for the first points of his UNLV career.
• Smith played 11 minutes, and along with his 13 points—which included a 3-of-5 showing from 3-point territory—had five assists. Rice said Smith could have played about five more minutes, but after getting whacked in the head in the second half, he ended up sitting the rest of the game as a safety precaution.
• Brice Massamba started at center, but only played five minutes. After the Rebels went on their run with Lopez the lineup, Rice said he decided to sit Massamba the remainder of the night to rest his sore knees.
• Oscar Bellfield was the only Rebel to not score, but he did contribute seven assists in 22 minutes. Bellfield only attempted two shots on the night.
• UNLV reached triple digits in scoring for the first time since Dec. 18, 2006, when the Rebels hung 103 points in a blowout of Norfolk State at the Mack.