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UNLV's final play vs Colorado State: Jordan Cornish?

Dave Rice's final play wound up with Jordan Cornish taking a three. How did UNLV get to that point?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV trailed Colorado State 83-82 with less than 10 seconds to play. The Runnin’ Rebels had to go the length the court to try and beat the Rams.

The result was buzzer beater three from Jordan Cornish – who has accounted for 5.8 percent of UNLV’s shots this season – that only found iron. UNLV dropped another Mountain West game in the final minute.

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Why Jordan Cornish? Shouldn’t Rashad Vaughn and his 30 points had gotten the ball with a chance to win it? Well UNLV ran the same exact play that Dave Rice drew up when Pat McCaw forced overtime against Utah State earlier this season called "Winner".

The difference was Colorado State’s defense. They eliminated the dribble handoff between Cody Doolin and McCaw with positioning.

handoff d

So Doolin had to make something happen. The transfer point guard is often criticized for being unable to penetrate and breakdown defenses. It is a fair criticism given that he doesn’t do it on a consistent basis. But Doolin has proven multiple times that he can get into the paint when he has to.

doolin collapse

Doolin breaks down the Ram defense to a point that four of the defenders are focusing on him. That leaves two Rebels open on the three-point line, one a little-used but hot-shooting Cornish, the other a big man that has had much more success driving than shooting from the perimeter.

Doolin hits Cornish; Cornish doesn’t hit the shot. It was a tremendous look for UNLV. The only valid criticism is of the play is who was taking the shot.

Cornish had played just 10 minutes in the game and is the eighth leading scorer on a team with an eight-man rotation. Plus that was Jordan Cornish’s first shot in the final minute of a game against a Division I opponent. (He missed a three with 59 seconds against Saint Katherine.)

JC shots

Cornish is now 0-5 in overtime or the final three minutes of regulation. That’s not a big sample, which is part of the problem. Vaughn had been hitting tough shots and had drilled six threes to get to 30 points. The Rebels leading scorer spent the play in the corner.

Vaughn does make a last cut, which was actually a bad decision. Once Doolin collapses the defense and the ball gets passed out, Colorado State went to scramble mode to close out. Had Vaughn stayed in the corner there may have been time for Cornish to swing to the corner.

The design of the final is good. The main problem was Rashad Vaughn positioning. On the game-tying shot against Utah State, Vaughn inbounds the ball and streaks down the court to where Wood does in this instance. Had Vaughn been the inbounder, Doolin could have potentially hit him with a pass. However, it is doubtful that Colorado State would have slacked off of Vaughn to help.

Dave Rice drew up a play that had been successful before. Colorado State blew up the initial action, but the players were still able to create an open three for a 48 percent three-point shooter. The final play is not the reason UNLV lost.