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February 2, 2013

Bucked by the Broncos

ROLLERCOASTING - Up and down the Runnin' Rebels go for 40 minutes. That's what it felt like watching UNLV at Boise State on Saturday evening.

There were times you wondered if the Rebels knew they were trying to guard their basket. There were other times you couldn't believe how sharp they looked.

Unfortunately, there were plenty more befuddled moments than positive ones.

The Rebels scratched and clawed themselves all the way back to down with 17 seconds remaining with the ball in their possession. Rather than pounding the ball in the paint or driving towards the rim and putting the onus on the officials, Anthony Bennett fired away from well beyond the arc.

The result of the shot pretty much summed up the entire game. A good play followed by a poor one. A nice shot followed by a missed defensive assignment.

This isn't how you prepare yourself for the rigors of February and March. You can't play with half effort before turning it on and finishing strong. There are way too many variables to let quality teams become confident, especially at home.

VALUED POSSESSION - Going back to take a closer look at UNLV's real last shot at a victory and Bennett's errant 3-point toss.

It's one thing to take that shot in the middle of the game when you are on a run and there's a heat check to be launched. It's another to make that attempt with the balance of the game on the line and the Broncos reeling.

You don't get a second chance at that possession. You only get one, so you have to make it the most valued of the game. No way can you take a low percentage shot with so much teetering on it.

However, I do like the fact that Bennett was confident enough in himself to not even flinch in attempting it. There has to be credit given to him for that. He truly thought he was going to make it. That you can't fault.

Here's to a lesson learned when the game is on the line. Bennett tweeted afterward, "that one was on me," so you have to assume that something was learned.

READY FOR PRIMETIME? - This one is becoming debateable. When the Rebels are ready to take their game to the next level, you won't have to worry about them bringing their best effort every single night.

That isn't the case right now. Since the beginning of the season, UNLV has struggled to put together a pair of good halves back-to-back. You'll get spurts of greatness and spans of blah.

Is it fixable? Sure, but it would seem to be more of a fix of the players than the coaches. You can't coach effort. It is either there or not. Coaches can only prepare you for success. After that, you have to go out and achieve it as a team.



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