The 19th-ranked UNLV Runnin’ Rebels returned from the holiday break in near-record form, running and dunking their way to a 124-75 victory over Central Arkansas (5-7) on Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels (14-2), who had nine dunks and seven players in double figures led by Chace Stanback’s 29 points, broke the century mark in scoring for the first time in a little over five years (Dec. 18, 2006 vs. Norfolk State, 103-56) . And it was the first time since head coach Dave Rice’s senior year (Jan. 28, 1991 at Utah State, 126-83) as a player that the team scored as many as 124 points in a game.
But the thing that caught Rice’s eye on the stat sheet was his team’s assists. UNLV finished with 40, just one off the team record of 41 set against Wagner in 1982.
“Forty-seven field goals is an incredible number,” Rice said. “But a more incredible number is 40 assists.”
There were a lot of incredible numbers for the Rebels in this one. Consider:
* UNLV finished with an astonishing 37-4 edge in fast break points.
* The Rebels shot 67.1 percent (47 of 70) from the floor, including 71.0 percent in the second half.
* Stanback connected on 9 of 11 3-point attempts, finishing just one off the team single-game record for treys of 10 set by Freddie Banks against Indiana in the 1987 Final Four.
“As a staff we were very pleased with how we came back from Christmas,” Rice said. “The practice on (Monday) was as good as any post-Christmas practice I’ve ever been associated with.”
Stanback arrived late for that workout and sat out the first seven minutes of Wednesday’s win as punishment. Hard to imagine what he might have done if he had played the whole game. Instead, he had to settle for tying his career high in points. He also had a team-high 4 steals.
“I think the basket looks like it’s about six-feet wide,” Rice said of Stanback’s shooting performance. “There can’t be anybody in the country shooting the ball with any more confidence than Chace is right now.”
The Rebels, who forced 25 turnovers, also got a double-double (10 points, 10 assists) from guard Anthony Marshall and another outstanding all-around performance from sophomore forward Mike Moser (18 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals). And sophomore guard Reggie Smith had a big game off the bench with 13 points and 5 assists in just 11 minutes.
UNLV returns to action on New Year’s Eve against Hawaii in Honolulu. That contest will be shown locally at 5 p.m. on Channel 8.