Tre'Von Willis and Chace Stanback provided yet another impressive dual performance to carry UNLV to a 79-70 victory over TCU. UNLV jumped out early, but TCU clawed their way back to the game thanks to some red hot 3-pt shooting. However, TCU was unable to get over the hump against a determined UNLV squad. Stanback provided another consistent performance with 19 points, included numerous coming from his now favorite mid-range jumper position.
Willis led the team with 30 points and even though the conference season is not quite halfway done, Willis has to be considered on the short list for conference player of the year. He's scored 20+ in every conference game, while mixing in rebounds and assists, and being a steady performer at the line. There are some very talented players in the Mountain West, and Tre'Von Willis is definitely one of them.
UNLV was in control for most of the first half, going up by 8 at the halfway mark. The lead would have been even greater, if not for the lights-out shooting of the Horned Frogs, who hit six first half three pointers. UNLV was answering primarily with 2s, but solid defense kept them in the lead. UNLV's offensive performance was a bit more diverse early on, as the big men got in on the act, with Massamba, Santee, and Shaw combining for 22 points.
UNLV relaxed a bit in the second half, and TCU kept on firing up the basketball, cutting into the Rebel lead. Greg Hill and Edvinas Ruzgas were key as they each hit three 3-pointers. After cutting the lead to one possession on a couple occasions, TCU was able to tie it up at 60 with 8:35 to go. However, a 9-0 UNLV run seemed to put the game out of reach. TCU cut the lead back down to 2 points in the final minute, but UNLV hit their free throws and generally did what was needed to put away a tough game.
The last time these two teams met in Ft. Worth, TCU pulled out a 7 point win, in a game in which they outrebounded and simply outplayed the Rebels. This afternoon was not a repeat performance, as UNLV outrebounded TCU and generally hounded them most of the game.
UNLV: The Rebels head home to face a struggling Air Force team still looking for their first conference win. Given that UNLV blew their last home game against Utah, they better not be looking past the Falcons, as bad as they might be. UNLV has their "bye" next Saturday, so with BYU still a couple games away, I don't think they get caught looking past the Falcons.
TCU: The Horned Frogs find themselves in a bit of a rut at this point, with a pair of difficult matchups coming up this week. TCU travels to Colorado State on Wednesday and then hosts New Mexico on Saturday. Colorado State appears to clearly not be in the top tier of teams in the conference, but is still better than the lower tier of teams. They'll be needing this win, so TCU could be in for a tough game.