Ups and Downs: It starts with a bang

Rebels look dominant in blowout win over Northern Arizona

I’ll spare you the suspense: The “Downs” section of this post is going to be very short.

There wasn’t much to fret about in the Rebels’ 92-54 dismantling of Northern Arizona on Monday night. This is the team everyone expected to show up aginst Dixie State in last week’s exhibition game. Better late than never. Let’s look at the good and the bad (but mostly good) from the season-opening performance.

UNLV def. NAU, 92-54

Box Score

Post-game reaction: UNLV 92, Northern Arizona 54
The Rebels react to a season-opening explosion.

Over/Under: Opening night
Going Over/Under for the Rebels’ season opener.

Opening night proving to be hot ticket

Thomas & Mack Center is nearing a sellout for tonight’s UNLV season opener

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Anthony Bennett
There was some hand-wringing when the freshman star shot six 3-pointers aginst Dixie State (and missed all of them), but Bennett’s all-around talent was on full display against Northern Arizona. In his official college debut, he started at center and scored a game-high 22 points, with many coming on spectacular dunks. He shot 9-of-13 from the field and hit 1-of-3 from distance. He grabbed seven rebounds. He blocked two shots. And this is just the beginning.

Anthony Marshall
Marshall is looking more and more like the answer at point guard. The senior was flawless on Monday, as he scored 14 points (on 6-of-6 shooting), handed out six assists and made two steals. And his energy on the defensive end was contagious, as he appeared to be on a mission not to allow another letdown occur. Coach Dave Rice was effusive in his praise after the game, and it was well deserved. If Marshall sustains this level of play, the Rebels will be set at the point.

Justin Hawkins
Hawkins got the starting nod, and true to his “glue guy” rep, he did a little bit of everything. The senior scored five points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists in 25 minutes. He also came away with two steals and played his usual stellar defense. The numbers won’t be staggering, but Hawkins will play a big role for the Rebels this season. And many of the stat lines will look like this.

Bryce Dejean-Jones
For a guy who hasn’t played a real game in approximately 18 months, Dejean-Jones looked like he was in midseason form. He entered the game about six minutes into the first half, and his first touch resulted in a smooth turnaround fadeaway. He then drilled a pair of 3-pointers, proving that he can be the floor-stretching shooter to play alongside fellow sniper Katin Reinhardt. BDJ finished with 15 points in 20 minutes.


Shot selection
Though the Rebels were much better in this regard than they were against Dixie State, there’s still room for improvement. Several first-half 3-pointers went up way too fast, and there were some out-of-control attempts in the lane. Still, they hit a respectable 33.3 percent (9-27) from behind the arc, and they outscored NAU 42-8 in the paint, so it’s hard to quibble with the shot selection after a 92-54 win. But hey, it’s not called “Ups and Ups,” is it?

Follow Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) on Twitter for 24/7 Rebels updates.

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