Despite playing listless and uninspired basketball for most of Tuesday’s game against Boise State, UNLV nevertheless had a chance to walk off with a win in the final seconds of regulation. But the Rebels came up empty when Rashad Vaughn missed a long 3, and Boise State whipped UNLV in the overtime period to hand the Rebels an 80-73 defeat.
The final play of regulation was an example of the Rebels at their worst, with no ball movement, no player movement, and really no plan. With the score tied at 68-68 after a Derrick Marks bucket, Chris Wood inbounded to Rashad Vaughn on the baseline with 13.1 seconds to play, and Vaughn crossed halfcourt with more than eight seconds on the clock. Watch the play unfold from there:
Literally nothing happens until Vaughn takes his 22-footer. Jordan Cornish is camped in the left corner. Patrick McCaw is spotted up on the left wing. Goodluck Okonoboh is hanging underneath the basket. Chris Wood is the only player off the ball who attempts to do anything, as he tries to set a ball screen with five seconds left, only to be waved off by Vaughn, who instead reverses direction and launches the shot.
Should Dave Rice have called timeout when he saw how stagnant the Rebels were on final possession? After the game, he said he didn’t want to call timeout and trusted Vaughn with the ball in his hands, but also that he wanted Vaughn to attack the defense and try to get closer to the rim.
If that was the case, the Rebels’ spacing is certainly not conducive to ball penetration. In order for Vaughn to be able to take his man off the dribble, McCaw would be better off stationed in the right corner, drawing his defender away from the middle. As the play unfolded, McCaw’s defender was able to cheat over and help cut off Vaughn’s path to the basket when he made his move. Okonoboh’s presence was also a hindrance, as his defender was able to stay in the paint and protect the basket.
If the reasoning for not calling timeout was that Rice wanted to give Vaughn a chance to penetrate the Boise State defense before it got set, then the Rebels probably should have had a better idea of how they wanted to space the floor to create driving lanes. Instead, their configuration and lack of movement away from the ball almost guaranteed that they wouldn’t get a quality shot.
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