Any worry about a post-San Diego State letdown for UNLV were quickly dissolved Wednesday night against TCU.
The hot-shooting Runnin’ Rebels (17-3, 1-1 in Mountain West) pretty much ran the Horned Frogs (10-7, 0-2) out of the Thomas & Mack Center at the start, racing to early leads of 19-2 and 33-12 en route to a 101-78 victory before a crowd of 14,126.
Junior guard Anthony Marshall led the way with a career-high 27 points and nine assists while senior forward Chace Stanback added 21 points, including 5-of-7 3-pointers, and sophomore forward Mike Moser notched his ninth double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds in just 26 minutes of action.
The 14th-ranked Rebels, who were a dreadful 3-of- 22 from the floor at the start of last Saturday’s 69-67 loss at San Diego State, came out smoking in this one, connecting on 10 of their first 12 shots including 6-for-7 from 3-point range.
“We had great energy to start the game and we shared the ball and that’s really what makes us good,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “We talked about the need to come out and start games better. We’ve been a great second half team this year. For us to be successful in this conference we have to get off to a good start and we did that tonight.”
The Rebels, who finished with only nine assists in their loss at San Diego State, bounced back to register 28 assists on their 37 baskets.
“It starts with our defense,” Rice said. “We did a good job at the start of the game defensively, and we were able to get defensive rebounds. Mike Moser is just an absolute terror on the defensive boards (14 defensive rebounds). If we can get defensive rebounds and get out and run, we’re pretty good.”
UNLV (17-3, 1-1 Mountain West) finished with a 24-12 edge in fast break points and outrebounded the Horned Frogs 44-37.
Next up is an early showdown with preseason Mountain West favorite New Mexico on Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack. Steve Alford’s Lobos (15-3, 1-1) figure to be smarting a little after getting upset at home by San Diego State, 75-70, on Wednesday night.
“We know we have a huge challenge Saturday against a very good New Mexico team,” Rice said. “It should be a heck of a game and a great college basketball environment. People talk about a lot of places across the country, there’s nothing better than the Thomas & Mack when this place is buzzing.”
As of Thursday morning, less than 2,000 tickets remained for Saturday night’s game with the Lobos.
— Steve Guiremand