Hot start sparks Rebels

HONOLULU — After a swim at the beach and some dancing at a Hawaiian luau, UNLV freshman Anthony Marshall still had energy to burn Tuesday night.

Marshall scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, when the Rebels ambushed Southern Methodist, in a 67-53 victory in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic.

“The first time I shot a jumper, it actually went in, so I felt good,” Marshall said. “I’ve been getting plenty of rest. The hotel beds are feeling pretty good.

“We came here to win a tournament, not just to vacation. We came out with a lot of fire.”

UNLV (11-1) will face Hawaii (6-4) in the next round at 8:30 p.m. today. The Warriors defeated College of Charleston 84-71 at the Stan Sheriff Center in the late game.

Saint Mary’s (10-1) and Southern California (6-4) advanced in the other half of the bracket. The final round of the eight-team tournament is Friday.

Marshall and junior guard Tre’Von Willis, who also had 10 of his 12 points in the first half, came off the bench to get the Rebels rolling.

Chace Stanback opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, and Marshall followed by sinking a jumper. Derrick Jasper and Matt Shaw each hit a 3, and Willis’ steal and layup put the Rebels up 16-4.

The margin swelled to 27-6 on freshman Justin Hawkins’ steal and layup with 10:16 remaining. Marshall’s jumper sent UNLV into halftime with a 42-19 lead.

Marshall was called on 44 seconds into the game after point guard Oscar Bellfield picked up his second foul.

“Anthony came in and did a great job,” Rebels coach Lon Kruger said. “Anthony can make plays off the dribble. He sees the floor well, he makes plays for others, and he can score.”

Marshall, who was shooting 33 percent from the field and was 2-for-11 in a victory over South Carolina-Upstate on Saturday, hit 6 of 9 shots.

“I’ve been shooting pretty bad, but there are other things I can do to contribute,” said Marshall, a 6-foot-3-inch guard from Mojave High School. “The coaching staff looks for me and a couple other guys to bring energy off the bench.”

Willis, recovering from a sprained left ankle, played 25 minutes off the bench. He said the back soreness that bothered him last week is no longer an issue but the ankle injury is limiting his mobility.

“I was so slow, and I had no jumping ability whatsoever,” Willis said.

UNLV shot 18-for-31 (58 percent) in the first half and 28-for-55 (50.9 percent) for the game.

“We were pretty hot from the start,” Willis said. “When we shoot it like that, we’re a dangerous ballclub.”

Stanback hit all three of his 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. Shaw had 10 points, and Jasper added nine.

Shaw’s layup gave the Rebels their largest lead, 61-33, with 8:20 remaining.

“For 30 minutes, we really felt good about what we did,” Kruger said. “The activity was great on the defensive end.”

The Mustangs (4-4) missed their first 13 3-point shots and were pressured into 21 turnovers. But they made a late run and pulled within 62-47 on Derek Williams’ steal and layup with 4:25 to go.

“We stopped attacking, and they started attacking us,” Willis said. “We had a six-minute breakdown toward the end of the game.”

After the basket by Williams, who scored a game-high 18 points for SMU, Stanback dropped a 3 from the top to help UNLV put it away.

“We came out real hard and aggressive, defensively and offensively,” Stanback said. “We’re just focused. This is a business trip. It’s the first Diamond Head Classic tournament, and we want to go down in history as the winner.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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