Monday night, I went to a basketball game at the Thomas & Mack Center on UNLV's campus, as they played host to Louisiana Monroe. There are a few differences that were quite apparent that most who read the @midmajority would be familiar with.
1. ULM traveled light to Vegas. Their bench looked bare. Since they were being paid to play this game, maximizing profit was probably key. No extra redshirted players or unnecessary baggage. Just show up, get the job done and head home. Hopefully they got some free buffet tickets or caught a comedy act before they bailed out of town. I doubt it though.
2. No sweet warm-up jumpsuits or track jackets. T-shirts only. I dig basketball gear and enjoy checking out what other teams wear. ULM is not raking in the loot to buy a bunch of extra shirts or weird hooded sweatshirts. Whatever gets the job done, and that's it.
3. Size. ULM was dwarfed by the Pac-12ish athletes that UNLV starts on its front line. I say Pac-12 because they have three guys who've transferred from that conference.
Regardless, ULM hung around early, while UNLV turned the ball over five times during their first six trips down the floor. They also hit a few jumpers and seemed to play well as a team. But the Warhawks found foul trouble early playing zone, trying to stay in front of faster UNLV guards. UNLV was red hot from #superhoop land as well, which did not help the ULM cause in the least. All of this turned into a minor double-digit lead for UNLV at half time, something ULM probably felt pretty good about. They were scrapping and hitting open shots, and the Rebels were clearly not very motivated, ULM being sandwiched between two big(ish) time games (to them) -- Cal and Illinois.
College basketball has two halves though.
UNLV put the game out of reach with five minutes of real true 100% basketball effort to start the second half, and the rest was gravy for Vegas. Chase Stanback of UNLV was 8 of 9 from #superhoop-land by the end of the game. Just before the under-12 media time out. Mike Moser of UNLV had back to back alley-oop reverse dunks. The Thomas & Mack exploded, and the Warhawks returned to their bench, probably looking for those buffet tickets.
The solid effort award of the night truly belongs to ULM's Steven McClellan and his workmanlike 16 and 7, including 4 offensive rebounds in and amongst the tall trees. Also notable was the entire effort of the Warhawks squad, playing down to the whistle even after the Rebels were up 20+. Their bench still cheered for hustle plays. Nobody stopped diving on the floor for loose balls or hustling for rebounds. Some guys have 7-foot-2 wingspans, and some guys do not, and that's just the way it is.
The stat lines and totals of the game may bear something of interest, but just looking at the players on the floor said it all.
at UNLV 81, LOUISIANA-MONROE 63 12/19/2011
LOUISIANA-MONROE 1-11 (0-0) -- T. Releford 2-3 4-7 8; T. Mackey 5-9 0-0 13; S. McClellan 7-9 2-2 16; F. Brown 3-10 6-6 12; T. Lindsey 1-5 0-0 3; C. Winborne 1-6 2-2 4; H. Mingo 6-9 1-4 15; C. Ndongo 0-2 0-0 0; M. Hansberry 0-1 0-0 0; F. Ribeiro 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 11-14 63. UNLV 12-2 (0-0) -- C. Stanback 10-13 1-2 29; A. Marshall 1-3 2-2 4; M. Moser 2-5 2-3 6; O. Bellfield 4-5 0-0 10; C. Lopez 4-4 4-7 12; J. Hawkins 0-4 8-10 8; K. Wallace 3-4 0-0 9; B. Massamba 0-0 0-1 0; R. Smith 1-4 0-0 3; K. Mashour 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-43 17-25 81.
Three-point goals: ULM 6-16 (F. Brown 0-2; C. Winborne 0-2; H. Mingo 2-5; M. Hansberry 0-1; T. Lindsey 1-1; T. Mackey 3-5), UNLV 14-23 (K. Wallace 3-4; C. Stanback 8-9; O. Bellfield 2-2; J. Hawkins 0-3; A. Marshall 0-2; M. Moser 0-1; R. Smith 1-2); Rebounds: ULM 23 (S. McClellan 7), UNLV 22 (C. Lopez 9); Assists: ULM 10 (F. Brown 6), UNLV 20 (A. Marshall 6); Total Fouls -- ULM 18, UNLV 14; Fouled Out: ULM-H. Mingo; UNLV-None.