UNLV trailed Utah State by two points with 8.7 seconds left in the second half. It might be hard to believe, but Dave Rice drew up a play. And his team executed it.
"Obviously Patrick McCaw made a huge shot to get us into (overtime)," Rice said. "That was a set play that we had put in the last couple of days. We call it Winner. It was a situation where 10 seconds or under, we've got something we can run"
Here’s what Winner looked like against Utah State.
First off, Pat McCaw was trying to throw an alley-oop to Chris Wood, I think. McCaw loves to throw alley-oops. He’s especially keen to throwing them when he penetrates off a ball screen – or in this case a dribble handoff – and gets near the free throw line.
This play starts with Cody Doolin doing an excellent job of getting the ball up the floor. He goes free throw line to free throw line in 3.4 seconds before pitching the ball to McCaw. Utah State may have been better served trapping Doolin, given the way UNLV has handled full court pressure recently.
Then the dribble handoff.
"If Patrick sees something off that dribble handoff - and we've worked on him in that spot - if he sees something that he's supposed to take it," Rice said. "He saw something on that dribble handoff where they either missed the switch or he was open."
Utah State didn’t switch the handoff, and with Chris Smith going over the top of the dribble handoff, McCaw had space to operate.
Here’s why this looks like an alley-oop that happened to find its way into the net. As McCaw releases the ball, he is still running. He didn’t set his feet. Plus he’s about 16 feet from the hoop, which is a bit far for a one-handed runner.
McCaw is smart. He likely saw David Collette stepping up and leaving Wood. This left Jalen Moore to play help side on Wood, but Moore was behind him, which would allow an easy alley-oop at the front of the rim.
But post game, Dave Rice said he was shooting.
Rice also alluded to this play having different options, the one that was visible was a back screen for Jordan Cornish near halfcourt.
Wood doesn’t set a good screen, but assuming he does that would allow Cornish to streak unguarded up the floor, or force the opponent to switch the screen.
Since the dribble handoff broke down the defense as expected, Rashad Vaughn and Jordan Cornish are wide open on the perimeter.
UNLV has lost a lot of close games in conference play, but against Utah State the Runnin’ Rebels pulled off an incredible feat. UNLV scored nine points on its final four possessions of regulation then scored 11 points on its final five possessions of overtime. That’s unbelievable efficiency in the closing stages of a game that led to a 79-77 win.
At least for one night the late game problems were solved. Dave Rice drew a quality play, and his team executed. Even if it was an accidental shot, it was a winner.