Rebels' Stanback snaps shooting slump, helps spur rout


Chace Stanback didn't appear any different on the outside as he quietly explained in his typical low-key fashion his breakout from a three-week slump.

But inside, the UNLV junior forward had to be feeling giddy after making 5 of 6 shots, including both of his 3-point attempts, to finish with 15 points in the Rebels' 83-49 rout of Texas Christian on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"It's a relief," Stanback said. "Anytime you go through a slump like that, it's going to be frustrating."

His troubles began Dec. 15 when he made 5 of 16 shots in the Rebels' 68-62 loss to UC Santa Barbara. And while he scored 16 points that night, his low percentage from the floor was not a positive sign.

It got worse. In the next four games, Stanback was a combined 10 of 25 from the floor. He made just three 3-pointers in that span. And while UNLV won three of the four games, it was evident the team missed Stanback's ability to score from the perimeter, which opens up things for the rest of the Rebels, particularly inside.

Coach Lon Kruger saw Stanback was having a tough time. But he also knew that the slump wouldn't last forever.

"We've tried to promote his confidence in practice, and in the last week to 10 days, he's been shooting it real well (in practice)," Kruger said. "It was nice to see him respond the way he did (Saturday). The key was getting good looks and being aggressive."

Stanback credits his teammates with getting him the ball in the right spots.

"They were looking for me early, and I was open," Stanback said. "If I'm open, I'm going to take the shots and try to knock them down."

Stanback had five of his 14 first-half points during UNLV's remarkable 24-0 run as the Rebels were frustrating TCU with a stifling defense led by Justin Hawkins and Tre'Von Willis. Hawkins had four steals and Willis two of his five steals during the run, which saw UNLV go from trailing 12-8 to leading 32-12 in a 6:28 span.

"That was a great stretch," said Stanback, who finished with seven rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. "We played really well defensively, and everyone was looking for each other. When we play like that, we're going to be tough to beat."

When asked if his slump was a thing of the past, Stanback said: "I hope so. All I can do is keep shooting when I'm open and try to knock down my shots."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

 

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