Rebels upset North Carolina 90-80 in program-changing victory

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall drives to the basket against University of North Carolina during their Las Vegas Invitational championship game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at the Orleans Arena.
Photo: Sam Morris
Ray Brewer

The UNLV basketball team has its first signature victory in the Dave Rice Era.

After all, it doesn’t get much better than knocking off the nation’s No. 1 ranked team.

The Rebels opened the second half Saturday with 14 unanswered points against top-ranked North Carolina at the Orleans Arena to erase a four-point halftime deficit, and never trailed the rest of the game in a 90-80 program-building victory.

The game was televised nationally by ESPN2, showing the nation the new-look Rebels under the first-year Rice. The Rebels, like Rice’s back-to-back Final Four teams in the early 1990s, put on a show.

Rice, who was part of UNLV’s 1990 national championship team, has embraced the challenge of returning the Rebels to national glory. For one night, they are there.

UNLV fans, desperate for a return of the glory years, stormed the floor after the victory. With seconds remaining, chants of “Overrated, Overrated,” filled the arena.

Senior Chace Stanback had one of his best career games in scoring a game-high 28 points, including four big 3-pointers. The Rebels made nine of its 3-pointers in the second half with everyone seemingly getting involved.

Mike Moser, the nation’s leading rebounder, continued to put up monster numbers in finishing with 16 points and 18 rebounds. The transfer from UCLA also buried a pair of 3-pointers in the second half outburst.

Oscar Bellfield was solid from start to finish with 16 points and nine assists, while backcourt mate Anthony Marshall had 13 points.

UNLV's Oscar Bellfield is guarded by University of North Carolina's Kendall Marshall during their Las Vegas Invitational championship game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at the Orleans Arena.

UNLV's Oscar Bellfield is guarded by University of North Carolina's Kendall Marshall during their Las Vegas Invitational championship game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at the Orleans Arena.

UNLV controls its own destiny against North Carolina, leading by 12 with eight minutes remaining.

This game is the UNLV basketball team's to win.

The Rebels are leading top-ranked North Carolina 72-60 with 7:33 remaining Saturday at the Orleans Arena, outscoring the Tar Heels 34-18 in the opening 12 minutes of the second half.

UNLV has made seven 3-pointers in the second half, including two from 6-foot-8 power forward Mike Moser.

The Rebels are a confidence bunch and haven’t flinched the entire night, including when North Carolina went on a mini-run toward the end of the first half.

It’s been pretty much all UNLV in the second half. They’ve been a second half team all season, but that was against the likes of Morgan State and Cal Poly.

UNLV opens second half with 12 unanswered points, leads North Carolina 50-42

The UNLV basketball team has opened the second half with 12 unanswered points and leads top-ranked North Carolina 50-42 at the first media timeout of the second half.

Mike Moser and Oscar Bellfield hit 3-pointers in the outburst, while Carlos Lopez and Chace Stanback also scored. Lopez started the second half in place of Brice Massamba.

UNLV definitely has momentum on its side with fans at the Orleans Arena are chanting “Rebels, Rebels.” They can definitely sense an upset.

North Carolina led by four points at the break and appeared ready to blow the game open. UNLV coach Dave Rice made some great adjustments in the locker room.

Bellfield has a game-high 13 points, but UNLV trails North Carolina by four points at halftime

The UNLV basketball team is hanging around with top-ranked North Carolina Saturday at the Orleans Arena, receiving a game-high 13 points from Oscar Bellfield and trailing just 42-38 at halftime.

The Rebels haven’t backed down and are matching North Carolina basket-for-basket. North Carolina is shooting 57-percent, including nailing consecutive 3-pointers with about four minutes to play in the half to grow the Tar Heels’ lead to six points.

Anthony Marshall has nine points for the Rebels, but missed the final two minutes of the half with three fouls. Mike Moser had four points and a game-high six rebounds and Chace Stanback has seven points.

Give credit to UNLV for staying close and making things interesting. At times, it appeared North Carolina was about to blow the game open, but the Rebels haven’t flinched.

Big dunk from Anthony Marshall helps UNLV stay close with North Carolina

If the UNLV basketball team needed one play to show it belonged on the same court as top-ranked North Carolina, junior guard Anthony Marshall provided it.

Marshall’s powerful one-handed dunk over North Carolina’s John Henson was a big-league play, bringing the fans at the packed Orleans Arena for the Las Vegas Invitational championship game to their feet.

Marshall was fouled while converting the dunk and proceeded to make the ensuing foul shot to complete the 3-point play, helping UNLV stay close with North Carolina — they trail 20-18 with 7:48 to play in the half.

The Rebels made their initial two 3-pointers in opening a seven-point early, but have gone cold from long range in shooting just 4-of-11 on 3-pointers. For the game, they are 6-of-20 from the field in helping North Carolina take the lead.

The game has followed the script several expected with UNLV giving a spirited effort early. Only time will tell how much longer it continues.

Two 3-pointers from Oscar Bellfield help Rebels take early lead against North Carolina

To beat top-ranked North Carolina, the UNLV basketball team has it make its long-range shots.

And, while it is still early at the Orleans Arena in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational, the Rebels have done just that is opening with a hot-shooting touch from the outside.

The Rebels have buried a trio of 3-pointers in the initial four minutes and aren’t backing down against the talent-rich Tar Heels, leading 11-6 with 15:37 to play in the first half.

Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Rebels an early 6-2 lead. A few possessions later, Bellfied hit another 3-pointer to extend the advantage to seven points.

The action has been very fast-paced, which is exactly how UNLV hopes to play. Mike Moser, one of the nation’s leading rebounders, already has four rebounds for UNLV. In comparison, the North Carolina team has three boards.

Rebels wearing all black uniforms, ready for test of top-ranked North Carolina

It’s not everyday the UNLV basketball team plays against the No. 1 team in the nation.

The Rebels will break that streak tonight at the Orleans Arena when they take on top-ranked North Carolina in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational on ESPN2, playing a No. 1 ranked team for the first time since beating then top-ranked Arizona 68-67 in the 1989 NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

For undefeated UNLV (6-0), the opportunity to play a powerhouse program on national television presents a golden opportunity: to prove they are moving in the right direction under first-year coach Dave Rice.

One look at the Rebels’ uniforms and it’s easy to see the Rebels are bringing their best — they are wearing the all black uniforms, typically worn specifically for big games.

UNLV has won five of its six games by double digits and has gone relatively unchallenged for most of the three-week season. It won’t be that way tonight with North Carolina’s deep roster of future NBA players to provide the ultimate challenge.

A win for UNLV will push them into the top 25 rankings, help them on the recruiting trail — top recruit Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman will be in attendance — a further fuel the fans’ optimism that Rice can return the program to the glory years.

Several questions will be answered tonight — can the Rebels’ uptempo style of play work against a more talented team? Will rebounding-machine Mike Moser continue to dominant on the boards? Can the Rebels continue to play stellar defense with the upgrade in competition?

If anything, the stage of playing on ESPN will be a free advertisement for the program. Rice was on the national title team and flashing black to the glory days will surely be part of the telecast.


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