Rushed Reactions: UNLV 75, Colorado State 65Posted by AMurawa on March 16th, 2013
Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference. He filed this report after Friday night’s MW Tournament semifinal between UNLV and Colorado State.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Anthony Bennett Is Good When He Wants To Be. Bennett made a big splash in the first half with a three-minute run that included a pair of free throws, back-to-back-to-back threes, and a play where he grabbed a rebound and led a fast break that ended in a Katin Reinhardt three — a stretch that turned a 23-21 game into a 37-24 advantage. But, in the other 11 minutes he played in the first half, he attempted just two field goals and grabbed one board. And, just after those three threes, he got the ball on the baseline and backed up to the three-point line for a heat check, which can perhaps be forgiven. There was more of the same for much of the second half, as over the first 13 minutes he took no shots from the field and grabbed just one rebound in eight minutes of action. But he came alive down the stretch to help his team close the game out. Certainly part of the reason for Bennett’s slow stretches can go to Pierce Hornung’s tough defense, but for a guy who is going to be an NBA lottery pick, is getting limited by a 6’5″ (maybe) Hornung a viable excuse? More to the point, Bennett just has problems with consistent effort, something that isn’t unusual for a freshman. But for the Rebels to max out in March, they need Bennett to max out.
- Colton Iverson and the Rams. The senior big man was on the very short list of players seriously considered for Mountain West Player of the Year (I said Jamaal Franklin, the MW said Kendall Williams). Iverson restated his case tonight, carrying his team with 24 points and 16 boards on 9-of-16 shooting (most of which came in the first half), and almost single-handedly got the entire UNLV frontcourt in foul trouble. But he didn’t get a whole lot of help; the rest of the Rams contributed a 39.1% eFG.
- Larry Eustachy – Not an Oddsmaker. On Wednesday night following the Rams quarterfinal win over Fresno State, Larry Eustachy commented that it was 99.9% sure that senior point guard Dorian Green would not play in tonight’s semifinal. Well, that 0.01% chance came through as Green started and played 18 minutes before landing awkwardly midway through the second half and never returning. And really, it didn’t look like Green should have been out there at any point anyway. He was hobbling around from the moment he came out in pregame warm-ups until the moment he left. Hopefully the little tweak that removed him from the game was just that – a little tweak – and he’ll be ready to go when the Rams open NCAA Tournament play on either Thursday or Friday.
Star of the Game. Anthony Bennett. Yeah, I just got done railing about how he went for huge swaths of the game without making much of an impact on the game, but when he did turn on the juice, my goodness, was he ever something special. As his college career winds down with his last handful or so of games, we might as well appreciate just how spectacular he’s been in his time at UNLV.
Sights and Sounds. Yay!??!?. At halftime there was a little ceremony to announce the extension of the Mountain West’s contract to keep their tournament in Las Vegas through 2016, an announcement that was met with a muted reaction. One could interpret the response as the New Mexico fans, whose coach Steve Alford has been critical of playing on UNLV’s homecourt, offering up a sarcastic and half-hearted “Yay!”
Quotable: Larry Eustachy on Dorian Green’s status: “He has no choice but to be fine.”
Wildcard. Colton Iverson picks. At one point in the middle of the second half, Wes Eikmeier ran Justin Hawkins into a massive Iverson pick. I propose that going forward, any pick from a guy the size of Iverson cannot be called a “screen.” Something like “wall” seems far more appropriate.
What’s Next? The Rebels “host” New Mexico tomorrow in the conference championship game, but despite all the talk about how UNLV gains an unfair advantage by playing this tournament at the Thomas & Mack, you can bet that New Mexico will have more – and louder – fans in attendance on Saturday afternoon. As for the Rams, they’ll be dancing but their seeding is in question. My guess is a #6 or a #7, but Joe Lunardi has them as a #8 in his most recent bracket. If they get a #6, they could cause some trouble.