|UNLV's Carlos Lopez drives the baseline against Louisiana Monroe's Steven McClellan in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)|
No. 21 UNLV beats Louisiana-Monroe 81-63
LAS VEGAS—Louisiana-Monroe dropped to 0-3 this season against Top 25 teams after Monday night's 81-63 loss to No. 21 UNLV.
Warhawks coach Keith Richard has the Rebels on top of his team's ranked opponents.
"This was the best of the Top 25 teams we played this season," Richard said. "Their push on offense was tremendous. We felt that all night. Tremendous constant pressure going for the ball created a lot of turnovers for us. We tried to slow it down and it somewhat worked for a few moments in the first half."
The Warhawks lost 78-63 at then-No. 25 Mississippi State on Nov. 21 and 67-54 at then-No. 22 Texas A&M on Dec. 10.
Steve McClellan led Louisiana-Monroe (1-11) with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Hugh Mingo added 15 points.
Louisiana-Monroe tried to slow things down but UNLV's defensive pressure ended that plan.
The Rebels used that pressure in Saturday's upset win over then-No. 19 Illinois.
Senior forward Chace Stanback was 8 of 9 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 29 points.
"My teammates were really looking for me tonight and they were able to find me when I was open," said Stanback, whose previous career-high was 28 points in UNLV's win over then-No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 26. "I was able to knock them down."
UNLV (12-2) had 11 steals and seven blocks but were outrebounded 32-22.
"We do a good job forcing turnovers," UNLV coach Dave Rice said. "We scored 24 points off turnovers tonight and we get a lot of energy from our guys when we make plays like that. It wasn't just the steals, it was a collaborative effort on the defensive end, but it was sharing on the offensive end and our guys were looking for each other."
Carlos Lopez had 12 and nine rebounds for the Runnin' Rebels (12-2), while Oscar Bellfield had 10 points and four steals. UNLV was 14 of 23 from 3-point range (60 percent) and shot 58 percent overall.
"We talked with our team yesterday and in the shootaround today that these games can be difficult and after a big win on Saturday," said Rice, whose team outscored the Warhawks 26-2 in fast break points. "Sometimes, a turnaround can be difficult. We knew we needed to be ready."
UNLV, which returned to the Top 25 earlier in the day after being out for two weeks, led by as many as 29 points in the second half.
The Rebels, who never trailed, took a 12-4 lead. The Warhawks did have their first-half moments as a 3-pointer by Mingo with 5:37 left cut the Rebels' lead to 25-23. UNLV ended the half on a 12-4 run.
"We tried to go out there with a lot of energy," Bellfield said. "We tried to take it to them and that's something we did. Coach just tells us to pick up our defense to get our offense going. If we know we play (defense), we can get our fast break going."
The Rebels started the second half scoring the first nine points, highlighted by consecutive reverse dunks on alley-oop passes by Mike Moser. The Rebels built a 29-point lead with 7:15 to go, allowing for the reserves, including sophomore transfer Reggie Smith, who was making his UNLV debut.
Smith became eligible for Monday's game after transferring from Marquette last season. A sophomore guard, Smith had three points in 9 minutes.
Trent Mackey had 13 points and Fred Brown added 12 for the Warhawks.