Photo by George Nikitin| AP Photo
It wasn't secure until the final horn sounded, and it may have come with a very steep price, but the Rebels (7-1) earned their best win of the season on Sunday, knocking off Cal (6-2) on its home court, 76-75.
Quintrell Thomas was the last-second hero for UNLV, stalking the baseline, grabbing Anthony Marshall's off-line jumper and laying in the rebound for the go-ahead points with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Thomas scored the game-winning bucket, but there were plenty of turning points during the previous 39 minutes and 58 seconds. Let's analyze the Rebels' big win with a Fast Breakdown.
Q to the rescue
It was only fitting that Thomas delivered the buzzer-beater for UNLV on a putback, because the Rebels dominated the rebounding battle all game. Anthony Bennett led the way with 13 boards, while Thomas pulled down six (including three offensive rebounds). For the game, UNLV beat Cal, 38-30 on the glass and 13-5 in the offensive rebounding column. Thomas said his instincts took over in the closing seconds after the play broke down and Anthony Marshall was forced to fire up a contested jumper. "We didn't run the play, that's for sure," said Thomas, laughing. "But it ended up working out fine."
Moser goes out
Mike Moser's status was a mystery right up until game time, but his hip injury ended up being the least of his concerns as Moser played just five minutes before dislocating his right elbow diving on the floor for a loose ball. He left the arena with his arm in a sling after the game and declined to comment on his situation. The Rebels were able to patch it together in his absence against Portland, and for the final 35 minutes against Cal, but with Moser looking at a potential recovery time of several weeks (there was no official word on his injury immediately following the game), there's going to be a hole in the lineup. Khem Birch becomes eligible two games from now, so that may help soften the blow.
Bryce breaks out
Bryce Dejean-Jones enjoyed his best performance of his UNLV career, putting up 22 points on 7-11 shooting in 25 minutes before fouling out, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With Moser out, Dejean-Jones became the go-to guy during stretches of the second half and he delivered — 12 of his 22 came after intermission. After being held to single digits in the previous four contests, Dejean-Jones seemed like a weight had been lifted after the game. "I've been in a slump the last couple of games, and I knew I had to come out here this game and bring it," said Dejean-Jones. "I just looked to take better shots than I was before and looked to be more aggressive."
Bennett shows out (again)
It's official: Anthony Bennett is in the conversation for national player of the year. It wasn't just the way he dominated Cal to the tune of 25 points and 13 rebounds (both career highs), it was how he did it. His versatile game was on full display. Not only did Bennett show his quickness and power by driving baseline for a monster dunk, he also showed his touch by facing up and knocking down a mid-range jumper — and that was just the final minute. "It was just the heat of the moment and shots were falling," said Bennett when asked about his late-game heroics. "That's all I can really say."
Guards close out
Cal's offense is centered around high-scoring guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, who came into the game averaging more than 40 points combined. But the combination of Marshall, Dejean-Jones and Justin Hawkins held them to 29 on Sunday. Marshall spent most of the time on Cobbs (11 points), while Dejean-Jones drew the assignment of slowing down Crabbe, the nation's sixth-leading scorer entering the game (22.4 per game). BDJ played Crabbe aggressively and helped hold him to just eight shot attempts and 18 points. The tight defense eventually caused Dejean-Jones to foul out, but it was worth it to keep Cal's big guns under wraps.
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