Previewing UNLV-Va Tech in 76 Classic final
November, 27, 2010
By Diamond Leung | ESPN.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Murray State guard Isacc Miles only needed a couple sentences during a postgame news conference to sum up why UNLV will be difficult to beat when the Rebels face Virginia Tech for the 76 Classic championship on Sunday (9 ET, ESPN2).
"They made all the shots they needed to make, and they didn't hurt themselves," Miles said after the Runnin' Rebels beat his team by 14 in the semis. "When they do that and shoot 60 percent, it's pretty hard to win."
Not only is 5-0 UNLV getting scoring production from junior forward Chace Stanback (17.2 ppg), but its swarming defense is also looking good behind the efforts of Stanback and guards Derrick Jasper and Anthony Marshall.
The Rebels, who have already beaten a ranked Wisconsin team, are doing all this without big numbers from returning leading scorer Tre'Von Willis. Willis continues to come off the bench while playing his way back into game shape following a four-game suspension.
"We know Tre is going to return in full form in time," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.
Kruger is also well-aware that Virginia Tech presents challenges after the Hokies successfully got other teams to play their style, which is, as coach Seth Greenberg lovingly calls it, "ugly."
Virginia Tech squeezed out a win against Oklahoma State in the semis despite shooting 34.7 percent from the field, so Malcolm Delaney and Co. are accustomed to grinding out wins when the shots don't fall.
It helps the Hokies' backcourt if they get guard Erick Green back for the game after he exited the first-round game against Cal State Northridge with a calf injury.
But Delaney is more than capable of generating offense by himself, and with forward Jeff Allen also having a fine tournament, it'll be an intriguing matchup against a stingy defense.
A championship game win would mean an early boost for UNLV before the Mountain West Conference season. For Virginia Tech, anything that helps get it over the hump and into the NCAA tournament is seen as crucial.
Beating a red-hot Rebels team would qualify.