Breaking Down the Break

A closer look at the Fresno State loss may reveal a flaw in the Rebels' game plan

MarshallDejean-JonesBefore the Fresno State game, I posted a story that suggested the Rebels might be better served by slowing down the offense and focusing more on executing out of their halfcourt sets. As a quick follow-up, I re-watched the Fresno State game and charted every possession to see if I could spot any trends that could shed more light on that issue.

The results were about what you’d expect. In Wednesday’s shocking 64-55 loss, UNLV had 57 “full-court possessions” (for the purposes of this story, a full-court possession is any possession that comes after an opponent’s basket, a defensive rebound or a live-ball turnover). And when the Rebels got their hands on the ball, they didn’t waste much time getting their shots up.

Out of those 57 full-court possessions, 30 resulted in “quick shots” — either a field goal attempt, a trip to the free throw line, or a turnover within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. I set the cutoff at 10 seconds because I wanted to include shots that come early in the possession but don’t necessarily get counted as “transition” attempts. Here’s a breakdown:

Full-court possessions: 57
Quick shots: 30
FGs: 8-22 (36.4 percent)
3-point FGs: 0-7
FTs: 6-7
TOs: 5
Points: 22

As you can see, the numbers aren’t pretty. With the caveat that the entire offense struggled against Fresno State, the Rebels were especially ineffective when they tried to push the tempo. On “quick” plays, they scored just 0.733 points per possession and turned the ball over 17 percent of the time. For comparison’s sake, UNLV’s overall season average is a much more efficient 0.90 points per possession.

Besides the turnovers, the number that stands out most is the 3-point shooting. The Rebels have an addiction to shooting quick 3-pointers. As a Hamsterdam-level caffeine addict, I know all the signs: even when the Rebels manage to lay off for a game or two, the pull is just too strong and a major relapse is inevitable. The quick threes have been an issue all season, and it’s something they’ve got to get a handle on before the end of the regular season.

Of course, the final caveat here is that this is an extremely small sample size of just one game. I’ll take similar notes during Saturday’s game against New Mexico and see how the Rebels grade out in that one as well.

Related content:
Low Points: Rebels Look Lost in 64-55 Defeat at Fresno State
Would the Rebels be Better as an “Ugly” Team?

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