Leading up to Wednesday’s exhibition against Dixie State, Dave Rice and his players insisted that they were going to play to win the game.
As it turns out, they had to.
Dixie State was up to the task, grinding the Rebels down with precise offense in the second half and forcing an overtime period before UNLV finally prevailed, 81-80 on a last-second layup by Carlos Lopez-Sosa.
The Rebels did not play well. They’ll need to be much better on Monday night if they want to open the season with a win against Northern Arizona, and Rice said as much after the game.
But while the exhibition didn’t go according to plan, there were still some positives for UNLV. Let’s take a look at some of the good as well as the bad by calling this section “Ups and Downs.”
The freshman guard came as advertised. Reinhardt started and was the Rebels’ most dangerous shooter (3-of-7 on 3-pointers) and biggest threat down the stretch. He finished with a team-high 20 points and showed his trademark flair for the dramatic by drilling a pair of gigantic 3-pointers in the closing minutes. He looks to be ready for big minutes.
There were times when the offense looked completely out of sorts in the second half, especially in the halfcourt. But Marshall was disruptive on defense (four steals) and a catalyst on offense (16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, six assists, three turnovers). He also showed his point guard skills on the Rebels final offensive possesion. Trailing by one, he drove the lane and found Carlos Lopez-Sosa for the go-ahead basket with six seconds left.
Hawkins missed all three shots he attempted, but his impact was much greater. As usual, he played tremendous team defense and came away with four steals, including a big one in the final minute of regulation. He also handed out four assists.
The Rebels were quick to pull the trigger beyond the arc, and that strategy didn’t pay off. UNLV made just 6-of-32 from distance, good for 18.8 percent. Reinhardt hit 3-of-7, Marshall hit 2-of-5 and the rest of the team was just 1 for 20.
Despite out-rebounding Dixie State 45-41, the Rebels could never really ignite their fast break offense. There were a few occasions when steals led to open-court opportunities, but in general UNLV was never able to sustain a fast tempo. Dixie State actually outscored the Rebels in fast break points, 17-14.
After holding Dixie State to 30 points in the first half, UNLV’s defense got carved up in the second half. Dixie State’s precision offense used screens and quick ball movement to get open shots, and the Rebels were too often slow to react. Dixie State was also able to generate too many open looks at the rim — the Rebels were out-scored 39-26 in points in the paint.
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