FINAL, COLORADO STATE WINS, 66-59
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The offense was bad. Colorado State’s defense was good. The Rams scored in the tough ways that they couldn’t in the first half.
And the crowd of 8,371 was electric.
All of that combined to lead UNLV to blowing a 16-point second half lead in a stunning 66-59 loss to Colorado State at Moby Arena on Wednesday night.
After leading 41-26 at the break, UNLV was just 6-of-22 from the floor after the break, while Colorado State went 12-of-25 and hit 14 of 16 free throw tries. Junior guard Dorian Green scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, while two key second-chance buckets from Pierce Hornung in the final two minutes killed the Rebels down the stretch.
UNLV was out-rebounded by a smaller opponent, 35-30, and after posting five assists and no turnovers in the first half, senior point guard Oscar Bellfield couldn’t facilitate in the second half, with no assists and one turnover in the game’s final 20 minutes.
The loss drops UNLV to 24-7 overall and 8-5 in Mountain West play, with Saturday’s home finale at Wyoming all that is remaining before the league tournament. They’ve lost almost any shot they had at the top seed there, and now all San Diego State has to do is win at TCU on Saturday to clinch the top seed and at least a share of the league title with New Mexico.
The Rebels finish 2-5 on the road in Mountain West play in their first year under Dave Rice.
For more on this game, including postgame reaction from Rice and his players and plenty of analysis, stay tuned to RunRebs.com.
3:56, SECOND HALF, COLORADO STATE LEADS 57-56
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A 16-point lead evaporated in a hurry, and all of a sudden UNLV finds itself trailing late in a cauldron of an arena, 57-56. There is 3:56 to play, and all of the momentum is on Colorado State’s side.
The Rams have done most of their offensive damage at the free throw line, hitting 11 of 12 tries in the second half, while junior guard Dorian Green has hit several key buckets inside.
UNLV is just 5-of-18 from the floor after the break and finding good looks all but impossible to come by.
A loss here would not only crush the Rebels after dominating almost the entire first half, but it would have major implications on the Mountain West title race. San Diego State brushed aside Boise State, 66-53, and if UNLV loses, the Aztecs will only have to beat TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth to secure the top seed in the upcoming league tournament.
11:28, SECOND HALF, UNLV LEADS 50-44
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Well, it looks like UNLV will have to survive another major push from Colorado State.
UNLV’s lead ballooned to as many as 16 points here in the second half, but Colorado State has locked down on the defensive end and started getting more and more comfortable while driving to the bucket. A pair of clutch Dorian Green makes have Colorado State back within six at 50-44 with 11:28 left to play.
The crowd is becoming a factor, as Moby Arena is back into the game, and UNLV is going to have to start getting creative on offense.
The Rebels have only eight shot attempts so far this half and are having trouble working inside-out after Brice Massamba went to the bench two minutes into the stanza with his third foul.
HALFTIME, UNLV LEADS 41-26
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Forget about the torrid start to the game that got UNLV out to a quick 14-point lead on Colorado State.
Focus instead on how UNLV re-gained a 14-point halftime edge after Colorado State used a 10-0 run to close the lead to four points.
The Rebels are no strangers this year to salting away big leads on the road and either finding themselves losing or squeaking wins out in overtime. This time, though, they showed some strong resolve. A string of back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half by Oscar Bellfield, Chace Stanback and Kendall Wallace helped them take a 41-26 edge into the halftime locker room.
UNLV was 16-of-34 from the floor in the first half and a blistering 7-of-12 from 3-point range. Bellfield led the way from deep, as he was 4-of-5 and tallied 14 points while playing a team-high 19 minutes.
The Rebels held Colorado State to 39.3 percent shooting and only four assists across from seven turnovers.
Another half like that, and UNLV remains part of what looks like will be a three-way tie still atop the Mountain West standings heading into the finale. New Mexico blew out Air Force, 86-56, while San Diego State holds a 38-22 edge on Boise State at halftime in Idaho.
11:08, FIRST HALF, UNLV LEADS 26-12
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — You may be asking yourself: Who is that team in the black uniforms?
UNLV has come out of the gates blazing on both ends of the floor and leads Colorado State 26-12 just nine minutes in here at Moby Arena.
Hot shooting and sweltering defense has kept a raucous crowd quieted for the better part of this one so far.
It’s been seniors doing most of the damage, too. Oscar Bellfield hit three early 3-pointers, including an ugly banked-in try from deep on the left wing and has 11 points so far. Fellow senior Chace Stanback has four early points, too, as he got UNLV’s scoring started with a difficult 18-foot baseline jumper.
Dave Rice is shuffling guys in and out to combat early fatigue playing in elevation. Eight Rebels have seen time on the floor so far, and substitutions are being made every couple of minutes.
One substitution of note early involved sophomore Mike Moser, who did not start after missing a study hall session earlier in the week. It was his first non-start of the season. He responded by hitting an early 3-pointer and recording a highlight-reel assist with a behind-the-back pass to Justin Hawkins for an easy layup.
Now the true test involves how UNLV keeps it up. They’ve had big leads on the road at Air Force, Boise State, New Mexico and TCU this season and seen them slip away quickly.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Boy, how things can change in just a couple of years.
In Tim Miles’ first season at Colorado State five years back, the Rams went 0-16 in Mountain West Conference play and it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Fast-forward to tonight, and a game that everyone knows is important for 17th-ranked UNLV (24-6 overall, 8-4 MWC) is equally as important for the home-standing Rams (17-10, 6-6).
Two years after UNLV played in front of a barren crowd here at Moby Arena, the buzz for tonight’s game is as high as it’s ever been on the Colorado State campus. A capacity crowd of 8,745 could be on hand, making overcoming their road ills in conference play as tough as possible tonight for the Rebels.
Colorado State is 6-0 at home in league play and has only lost once at home all season. And above all, Miles’ club is desperate tonight.
The Rams’ RPI (31) is strong, and their résumé suggests that they have a great shot at the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2003. A win tonight, in the opinion of many, might all but lock them in towards the bottom of the at-large pool.
On the UNLV side, it’s well-known what this game means in terms of getting a piece of the Mountain West regular season title and seeding in the upcoming league tournament.
But more than anything, UNLV needs this to remind itself how good it’s capable of playing on the road. The Rebels were a decent away team to start the season, but have had trouble being themselves away from the Thomas & Mack Center in league play, going 2-4 to this point. This is the last chance to gain some road steam before heading off to play NCAA tournament games next month.
We’re about 30 minutes from tip-time here at Moby, the crowd is filling in and UNLV is as loose as can be during warm-ups, which is probably a good thing. There’s a good amount of chatter going back and forth between the guys. They’ve even put on a bit of an impromptu dunk show. They’ll need to be loose if Colorado State defends tonight how it has most of the year in this building.
Back with more around tip-off. And, as always, follow me on Twitter for constant updates during the action at @ryanmgreene.