Slump? What slump?
Chace Stanback failed to sink a field goal in UNLV’s 64-48 victory over Illinois last Saturday and was just 2-for-8 from the floor in the team’s 65-54 victory over UTEP three days earlier. Speculation began to emerge that may the 6-foot-8 senior, a third team all-Mountain West Conference pick each of the last two seasons, might be ill.
But Stanback looked plenty healthy Monday night in UNLV’s 81-63 victory over Louisiana-Monroe at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Stanback connected on 8-of-9 3-pointers, including all five he attempted in the first half, en route to a career high 29 points to lead the 21st-ranked Runnin’ Rebels (12-2) to a 81-63 victory over the Warhawks (1-11).
UL Monroe opened with a 2-3 zone and the Rebels made them pay, connecting on 14 of 23 treys (a season best 60.9 percent). Overall, Dave Rice’s squad shot 58.1 percent from the floor and had an impressive 20 assists on its 25 baskets.
Stanback set the tone by hitting 3-pointers for UNLV’s first two baskets of the game. He sank three more treys in the final 6:45 of the half to spark a 15-7 run to help the Rebels build a 37-27 halftime lead.
“Certainly playing against a zone was a positive for Chace,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “He was able to get his feet set and get open looks.”
“My teammates were really looking for me tonight and they were able to find me when I was open, and I was able to knock them down,” Stanback said. “(The Illinois game) was tough but we always worry about the next game. You can’t really worry about the past. You have to focus on the present, and that’s what I was trying to do.”
Rice hinted that part of the reason for Stanback’s poor shooting last week may have had something to do with mental fatigue from preparing for final exams.
“Chace, like our other seniors, is on track for graduation,” Rice said. “And last week was a tough final exams week for Chace. I just think all of our guys are ready for a little break from school and to concentrate 100 percent on basketball.”
The Rebels also got strong performances from guards Anthony Marshall (6 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals) and Oscar Bellfield (10 points, 4 steals) and forwards Carlos Lopez (12 points, 9 rebounds in 21 minutes) and Mike Moser (6 points, 5 assists), the latter who capped a 11-0 run to start the second half with back-to-back reverse dunks off perfectly placed lob passes from Bellfield that brought the crowd of 11,515 to its feet.
“Lob Vegas,” tweeted Marshall cleverly afterward.
Steven McClellan scored 16 points and Hugh Mingo added 15 for UL Monroe, who trailed by as many as 29 points in the second half.
The Rebels return to action Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. when they host Pac-12 favorite Cal, an impressive 70-50 winner over UC Santa Barbara on Monday night, at the Thomas & Mack Center.
REBEL NOTES: Forward Quintrell Thomas, one of the stars in UNLV’s win over Illinois, sat out the game because of a toe injury suffered in the second half against the Fighting Illini. “I know that Quintrell was frustrated, especially after how well he played on Saturday against Illinois,” Rice said of the decision made to have him sit out to rest the injury. “We felt it was very important to try and get well and try to get ready for a big game Friday against Cal.” … One of the few negatives on the stat sheet afterward was the fact the Warhawks finished with a 33-22 edge in rebounding. … The Rebels finished with 11 steals and forced 18 turnovers that led to 24 points. … UNLV held a 26-2 edge in fast break points. … Sophomore point guard Reggie Smith made his long awaited debut in with 11:32 to go in the first half and promptly sank his first shot, a 3-pointer. The Marquette transfer played nine minutes and had three points, two rebounds and three turnovers.