The fervor for UNLV basketball has ramped up since former Rebel Dave Rice was hired as head coach in April, and fans got their first opportunity to watch this season’s squad in action Oct. 16. About 4,000 fans filled the Thomas & Mack Center for the Scarlet & Grey scrimmage, where the Rebels’ newcomers made the biggest splash.
Sophomore forward Mike Moser, a UCLA transfer who had to sit out last season, had 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the Black team to a 46-39 victory, while guards Reggie Smith and redshirt Bryce Jones scored 10 and 11 points, respectively, for the White squad. Smith, a transfer from Marquette who won’t be eligible until the Dec. 17 game at Illinois, earned the night’s biggest cheers during warm-ups. The sophomore guard, generously listed at 6 feet tall, bounced the ball off the floor, gathered it with his left hand, passed it between his legs to his right hand and threw down a clean, powerful dunk.
During the scrimmage, Smith showed a lightning-quick first step that allowed him to get the basket with ease and also hit a pair of 3-pointers. Rebel fans will now have to wait until next season to get another look at Jones, who must sit out this entire year after transferring from USC.
There were glimpses of the Rebels’ glorious past at the scrimmage. Former coach Jerry Tarkanian received a standing ovation after being introduced by Rice — the band played the Jaws theme while fans did the Shark clap — and assistant coach Stacey Augmon, a former All-American, gained more cheers than any current player.
Fans flooded the floor afterward to get autographs, building up a store of goodwill that has to sustain Reb boosters over the three-plus weeks until the Nov. 11 season opener against Grand Canyon.