Demetri McCamey scores 17 and Mike Davis scores 22 points in demolishing of UNLV.
The final score was not indicative of just how poorly UNLV played and how amazingly Illinois played. While the final score was 73-62, UNLV was down by 20 from the 13 minute mark in the first half to the 4 minute mark in the second half. The Runnin' Rebels shot 38% from the field for the game, but only shot 23% in the first half. UNLV also went 7-24 from behind the arc, 5-21 in the first half.
Demetri McCamey and MIke Davis turned out to be the main scorers for Illinois, scoring 17 and 22 respectively. The only other player for Illinois who got into double figures was D.J. Richardson. Although it may have looked like McCamey and Davis really were the orchestrators in this blowout, they just happened to always to be the guys with open shots.
The offensive game plan and execution for Illinois was absolutely perfect for a pressure man-to-man defense. They simply spread out everyone around the three point line and then ran a lot of back cuts and screens to create open shots and mismatches. But even with such perfect offensive execution, UNLV could have made their case look somewhat better by making some buckets on the other end.
UNLV only scored 24 in the second half, six of those coming in the final two minutes of the first half. UNLV went on cold - literally freezing - streak from the 13:23 mark, when Carlos Lopez made a layup, to when Anthony Marshall got an And 1 to finally go with 6:29 left.
So how did Illinois do that? How did they keep UNLV from scoring at all for 6 minutes? They loaded up on the inside. During that stretch, UNLV took 7 straight three point shots or long jumpers - all open, all off the mark. UNLV's cold shooting was really this team's demise since they couldn't get anything going to the basket all night long.
UNLV's horrible offense combined with 17-27 (63%) shooting by Illinois in the first half led to a 22 point halftime lead for Illinois, 46-24. In the second half, things weren't as bad for the Runnin' Rebels. They fought hard and occassionally got the lead down to about 15, only to have D.J. Richardson or Demetri McCamey make a couple of threes to put the lead back over 20.
UNLV's bench was almost non-existent, scoring eight points. Five of those came from garbage time shots by Karam Mashour. Speaking of non-existent things, UNLV's post game was horrible. Carlos Lopez, Brice Massamba, and Quintrell Thomas combined for 11 points and 8 rebounds.
In fact, UNLV as a team lost every stat battle except for steals and turnovers. In the first half, UNLV failed miserably to turn over Illinois and it showed. In the second half, the Rebels forced 10 turnovers and as a result were able to get a couple of easy transition baskets. Unfortunately, there were only a few times when those turnovers did turn into easy buckets, as Illinois was well prepared to get back on defense after a turnover.
This is a very disappointing end to UNLV's season, a blowout loss in the NCAA Tournament after so many fans, including myself, had complained about the Runnin' Rebels draw and how they were underseeded in the Tournament. Illinois advances to face the Southeast region's one seed, Kansas, while UNLV ends its season on a horrible note and prepares to regroup for a tough non-conference schedule next season.
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