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Blog: UNLV’s Wallace and Massamba shine in Senior Night 74-63 victory against Wyoming

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Kendall Wallace tries to get the crowd into the game against Wyoming Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 74-63 to wind up an unbeaten season at home.

Published Sat, Mar 3, 2012 (6 p.m.)

Updated Sat, Mar 3, 2012 (9:13 p.m.)

This is what Senior Night is supposed to be.

Career-high 15 points from Brice Massamba. Season-high 14 points from Kendall Wallace. Oscar Bellfield dished out a game-high nine assists. And the Rebels defeated Wyoming 74-63.

Chace Stanback was the only senior who struggled, but considering it gave him a chance to sit back and rest his knee for the conference tournament and NCAAs after that, it's not an altogether bad game despite his scoreless night.

It was a physical game and sets the stage for another bruising battle on Thursday night. The Rebels (25-7, 9-5) and Cowboys (20-10, 6-8) will meet in the 3 vs. 6 game, the final quarterfinal game of the day.

Considering it's at the Mack, UNLV will be a big favorite, but if Wyoming can keep Leonard Washington on the court then it has a chance.

Mike Moser finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Anthony Marshall came off the bench for 12 points.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report on UNLV's Senior Night victory.

Senior Kendall Wallace has a season-high 12 points, UNLV leads 57-48

Kendall Wallace picked a good night for the best game of his season.

On Senior Night, Wallace has got a season-high 12 points, including a four-point play that blew the lid off the Mack and gave UNLV a bit of momentum as the Rebels lead 57-48 with 7:46 remaining. More impressive, he's done it in just 12 minutes on the court.

Brice Massamba is another senior making the most of his final regular-season game with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals.

Wyoming's Leonard Washington, who's playing with four fouls, checked back into the game with about nine minutes remaining. The Cowboys probably can't pull off a comeback without big minutes from him, so it'll be interesting to see how long he can last. UNLV's best offense right now is to attack him on every play.

Anthony Marshall has 11 points as UNLV leads Wyoming 43-37 early in the 2nd

UNLV has kept the pace moving in its favor, with the only stops for their own free throws, but the Rebels are still having trouble putting distance between themselves and Wyoming. UNLV leads 43-37 behind junior guard Anthony Marshall's 11 points, five of which he has scored in the first four minutes of the second half.

The biggest development in the opening minutes of the second half is Wyoming's Leonard Washington picking up his third and fourth fouls. Washington is Wyoming's leading scorer, and although he had been struggling thus far tonight, his presence inside is always important to the Cowboys.

Without him, UNLV should be able to create some mismatches in the post that it can take advantage of.

UNLV leads 36-32 at halftime against Wyoming despite 11 turnovers

UNLV has 11 turnovers and nearly as many highlights as it goes into halftime with a 36-32 lead against Wyoming. Several of those turnovers were offensive fouls, a stat sure to upset fans as the Cowboys' multiple trips to the free-throw line were what kept the game close for much of the first half.

Mike Moser has eight points while Oscar Bellfield has seven points and four assists.

The Cowboys' 10 made free throws were one of the things that kept them in the game, but they also played some great defense, including five steals. When UNLV shoots free throws, Wyoming doesn't send anybody to the line, which allows them to better set up and prepare for the Rebels' transition game.

The teams are both shooting about 48 percent from the floor, with the difference being UNLV's five 3-pointers compared to Wyoming's two. If UNLV continues to make those treys then it won't be an issue, but oftentimes this year the Rebels have become too content in the second half to settle for jump shots, and starting out well may only encourage them to fall into that trap once more.

As long as UNLV doesn't get into foul trouble early in the second half, then it shouldn't have to worry about the jump shots. Those free throws allow Wyoming to slow down the game and keep UNLV from running. If the Rebels don't let the Cowboys get to the line, then it's going to be hard for Wyoming to keep pace.

Rebels starting to inflict their style on Wyoming, but fouls a concern amid 26-20 lead

UNLV and Wyoming are just exchanging runs right now, picking up and slowing down the pace as each team gains the upper hand on the other. So far the Rebels have been able to control it for longer, taking a 26-20 lead with 7:05 left in the first half.

Mike Moser has eight points on 3-of-3 shooting and Oscar Bellfield has seven points. The Rebels have nine assists on nine made baskets, one of coach Dave Rice's favorite stats and a sign that UNLV is playing its game.

What's slowing it down are fouls. The Rebels have already been called for eight fouls, and that plays into the Cowboys' plans of slowing the game down. Wyoming has a lot of time left to take a lot of free throws, which could keep this game close going into halftime no matter how quickly UNLV is able to play.

UNLV off to a sloppy start on Senior Night against Wyoming, leads 7-5

Senior Kendall Wallace, making his second start of the year on Senior Night, hit the first shot of the game, which also happened to be just his second two-point attempt of the year. That's the margin so far as UNLV has a 7-5 lead after an ugly four minutes of basketball.

For example, Chace Stanback already has two airballs and a charging foul.

The teams will settle in eventually, but until they do the sold-out Thomas & Mack Center will be subjected to some extra sloppy basketball.

UNLV's Senior Night won't be complete without a victory against Wyoming

Before and after today’s game, the focus in the Thomas & Mack Center will be on four young men who have combined to help UNLV win 119 games in the last four-plus seasons.

Seniors Oscar Bellfield, Brice Massamba, Chace Stanback and Kendall Wallace will walk on to the court with their families to a standing ovation. There will probably be some tears — surely from parents if not the players themselves — and everyone will smile and take in a feel-good moment.

And as soon that’s over, it will be time to go to work. The only way to make the postgame celebration as enjoyable as the pregame one is to take care of business against Wyoming, the final regular-season game of the 2011-12 season. It tips off at 7 with coverage on The Mtn.

As much as reporters tried to get the guys to look back on their careers after Friday’s practice, it never took long for any of them to bring the focus back to Wyoming.

It’s like asking an artist what he thinks about a painting he hasn’t finished. He can tell you about the pieces of canvas he’s already covered, but he won’t know about the whole picture until it’s done. The focus is on the next brush stroke.

And so it is with the Rebels. New Mexico’s victory earlier in the day ensures that they can’t win a share of the Mountain West title, but those hopes essentially died in the final minutes at Colorado State. Today’s game is about ending on a good note with a victory against a team that UNLV will likely see again in Thursday’s quarterfinal game of the conference tournament.

Win or lose, the Rebels will be the three-seed. If TCU loses and Wyoming pulls off the upset, the Cowboys would take the fifth slot, leaving the Horned Frogs to play UNLV in the 3 vs. 6 matchup.

Those are distant thoughts for another day as far as the Rebels are concerned. Right now, it’s about getting back on the right track after a team that helped derail them earlier this season.

Since dropping a 68-66 loss in Laramie, the Rebels haven’t won a game on the road. They know that getting revenge at home doesn’t really answer any of those questions, but they can still enjoy it.

They can still enjoy seeing all four seniors in the starting lineup, and then running one more opponent out of the building. Still have fun playing together for the last time in the regular season.

Because after today the postseason is no longer an idea, and a loss is more than disappointing. It’s the end.

Bern’s prediction: Wyoming hasn’t won a road game since Jan. 28, the same night UNLV picked up its last victory away from the Mack. Throw in the Senior Night festivities and a nearly sold-out arena — only 50 tickets remained as of 4 p.m. — and the Cowboys don’t have much of a chance tonight. Their once burgeoning NCAA Tournament hopes died in mid-February, and now the Cowboys’ dreams completely rest on next week’s conference tournament. This will be over by halftime. UNLV 67, Wyoming 53.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or taylor.bern@lasvegassun.com. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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