WORN OUT - It was a war of attrition in Ft. Collins on Saturday with the Colorado State Rams winning out in that front.
To say that CSU made the critical plays down the stretch to defeat UNLV, 66-61, and that the Rebels didn't would be a bit harsh.
Dorian Green hit a 3-point shot for the Rams with 7:43 remaining in the game. CSU was only able to come up with one more field goal the rest of the way. The Rams scored 16 points in the next near eight minute span and 14 were notched by the way of the free throw line, where CSU just happened to be perfect from during the stretch.
It looked as if UNLV wore down both physically and mentally at this point. It wasn't a lack of desire or toughness but a lack of energy that doomed the Rebels.
Maybe it had something to do with the altitude (Anthony Bennett was seeing walking up the floor at one point in the first half). Maybe it had something to do with the long week of being on the road against two quality opponents.
Whatever the case, UNLV lost its ability to guard straight up when the biggest possessions were happening. Instead of forcing a pressured shot with a hand in someone's face, the Rebels bailed out the Rams over and over.
To its credit, CSU definitely capitalized on its found fortune.
While the Rams were living at the free throw line, UNLV struggled to get a quality shot from anyone of its playmakers. The Rebels final eight minutes consisted of a pair of charges, a pair of missed treys and a couple turnovers.
It was, to put it simply, a recipe for disaster.
The fact that Anthony Marshall played 38 minutes most likely aided the sloppy play factor. Head coach Dave Rice needs to find a way to get him some breathers without it being detrimental to the team.
ULTIMATE RESPECT - So you think that UNLV isn't thought of as the most talented and respected team in the Mountain West Conference by opposing fans? The conclusion to tonight's game was all you need to know for your answer to this question.
Despite the Rebels not being ranked, being an underdog, and having a nearly identical record as the Rams, CSU's student section rushed the floor after its team's hard fought victory.
That's about as much respect as you can give a team. I know that it's just the "in" thing to do at the moment, but I have to wonder if the fan base would've partied at half court after beating the Lobos or Aztecs.
Maybe? Maybe not?
It still proves that beating UNLV is something special to do. Beating UNLV with a couple future NBA players on its roster is even more special. Looks like the fans aren't blind to that idea.
THE MOSER QUANDARY - It's going to turn out to be the giant elephant in the room for this UNLV team in the coming weeks.
What happened to Mike Moser's game?
I know that he's coming back slowly from his arm injury and that same injury may have been re-aggravated this evening on a foul by the Rams, but there is something amiss in his game. He isn't the same player that Rebel fans saw dominating the opposition last season.
Moser, a free wheeling ball of havoc in the Shawn Marion mode, has simply turned into a jump shooter and role player. His statistics tonight were two points on two shots and five rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
Last year, he would've had those numbers in a flash. This year, it's a totally different story for him.
What was thought to be a sure-fire loss to the NBA first round is beginning to look like a sure-fire fifth year with the Rebels next year. And that, quite frankly, is really sad for Moser.
Of course, there's plenty of time to make things right. There will be plenty of scouts at Rebel games throughout the rest of the season checking on Bennett's talents that he could still grab the attention of one that absolutely falls in love with his intangibles.
The problem is that he isn't even getting off the bench down the stretch. He's sat on the pine in the closing minutes during both the San Diego State and Colorado State games.
That's not a positive sign for Moser or for UNLV. For the Rebels to be as good as possible, Moser has to be an impact player, especially now for the third straight game it appears that Bennett is going to struggle with issues that force him out of the game for multiple spells.
How are the Rebels going to adjust if this keeps up? How's Moser going to respond if he keeps being forced to the bench?
There's a lot of positives and negatives you can forecast for a team before the first tip of the season. This hasn't been one. This one came out of leftfield and is pretty hard to fathom.
But like I said, there's still a lot of time left. Here's to hoping the clock is ticking slowly for Moser.
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