UNLV-UC Santa Barbara Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Undefeated UNLV claimed its biggest victim of the season in its last game, defeating a top-ranked opponent for the first time in 22 years.
Runnin' Rebels coach Dave Rice wants his team to get past it quickly - especially with a visit to UC Santa Barbara up next.
Coming off a victory over North Carolina, the 18th-ranked Rebels look to keep rolling as they play their first true road game Wednesday night in a matchup with the Gauchos.
UNLV improved to 7-0 for the third consecutive season by knocking off the Tar Heels 90-80 in the championship of the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday. Chace Stanback had a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Rebels beat a No. 1 opponent for the first time since defeating Arizona 68-67 in the 1989 NCAA tournament.
Afterward, Rice wasted little time in working to turn his team's attention to Santa Barbara, which won at then-No. 22 UNLV 68-62 on Dec. 15 for its fourth straight victory in the series - and its only win in its last 15 games against ranked teams.
"Santa Barbara beat us at the Thomas & Mack (Center) last year so believe me, they will have our full attention," Rice told the school's official website. "We'll be ready for that game. There will be no letdown with our group. We've got great senior leaders who won't let that happen. It will be a big challenge going to Santa Barbara on Wednesday."
The Gauchos (4-1) will be looking to rebound from a 76-75 overtime loss to San Diego State on Saturday. They led 59-51 with 5:37 left in regulation but fell after shooting a season-low 38.1 percent from the field.
"Tonight, we just simply didn't make shots," coach Bob Williams told the school's official website. "We had a lot of open looks, but things just didn't fall."
Williams needs one win to tie Jerry Pimm for the program record with 222.
UNLV has held opponents to 39.4 percent shooting, but they could have their hands full slowing down senior swingmen Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally. Johnson has scored 26 in each of the last two games and is averaging a team-best 21.4 points, while Nunnally is scoring 19.6 per game and shooting 50.7 percent.
Nunnally had a team-best 23 points against the Rebels last season while Johnson chipped in 12 along with a career-best 15 rebounds.
Stanback had a team-best 16 points in that game, but he went 5 of 16 from the field as UNLV shot a season-worst 29.0 percent.
He'll be looking for a second straight outstanding performance Wednesday, as will forward Mike Moser, who had 16 points, 18 rebounds and six assists against the Tar Heels and earned Mountain West player of the week honors.
"Chace was going 100 percent in the second half. His defense carried us," said Moser, averaging team highs of 15.1 points and 13.7 rebounds.
UNLV also got 16 points and nine assists from Oscar Bellfield on Saturday.
The Rebels are 29-9 versus Santa Barbara, but their last victory over the Gauchos was 77-72 at home March 2, 1995.
Updated November 29, 2011