We saw a different UNLV team on display Saturday. Less than 24 hours after a disappointing loss to Oregon, the Rebels looked more disciplined in grinding out a 82-70 victory over Iowa State.
There was less freewheeling on offense, as the Rebels attempted just 10 3-pointers (after launching 30 against Oregon). They also made a more concerted effort to work the ball down low, and both Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett were able to thrive. The fact that the Rebels were still able to crack 80 points with a more grounded attack is a good sign.
UNLV won this one wth fundamentals. In this Fast Breakdown, let’s take a look at some of the adjustments they made to turn around and beat Iowa State.
Discipline on offense
After attempting 30 3-pointers in the loss to Oregon, the Rebels showed a more discerning eye from beyond the arc. They shot just 10 against Iowa State, and only one or two could be considered “bad shots.” The result? The Rebels’ most accurate shooting of the season, as they hit at a 40-percent clip from downtown. “It was a concerted effort on our part,” said coach Dave Rice. “We can’t settle for the first open look because the defense is set … obviously 30 3-point field goal attempts was too many yesterday.”
Big men on campus
With the Rebels cutting down on quick 3-point attempts, the natural beneficiaries were Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett. The two big men saw plenty of post touches, and they both produced, combining for 24 field goal attempts and 37 points. Moser went for 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Bennett scored a team-high 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds. When both of UNLV’s bigs are playing like that, the Rebels will be difficult to beat.
Command performance from Marshall
Anthony Marshall was minimized by Oregon (seven points, seven assists), but he made his presence felt in this one. He scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half and pierced the Iowa State defense for some big baskets. He still doesn’t look completely natural as a pure point guard (two assists), but there’s no doubt he can impact games positively for the Rebels. And in a game when UNLV was getting hammered on the boards for long stretches, Marshall stuck his nose in there and came away with eight rebounds. Just a gritty performance, and it didn’t go unnoticed. “I don’t think his assist numbers probably reflect what a great game he played today,” said Rice.
Will Clyburn paced Iowa State with 21 points, but shot just 3-10 in the second half. Bryce Dejean-Jones had a hand in cooling off Clyburn, as he provided tough man defense on multiple occasions and finished with four steals. Bennett also did a good job patrolling the paint, blocking four shots. For the game, Iowa State shot just 33.3 percent, and that includes more than a few easy putbacks (22 second-chance points).
Freshman forward Savon Goodman has had trouble getting on the floor so far this season, with some defensive miscues and his raw offensive game precluding him from big minutes. But he does have a place on this team, and he showed it against Iowa State. His energy was a big lift in the first half, and he finished with eight points, two rebounds, two steals and a block in 14 high-intensity minutes. He also turned it over a couple times, but it was worth it to get Goodman’s infectious hustle into the lineup. He won’t be this effective every night, but he can help the team in certain situations going forward.
What’s it mean?
With UC Irvine coming to town on Wednesday, UNLV will once again have a big advantage in the talent column. But if the Rebels learned one thing this weekend, it’s that talent alone isn’t enough at this level. They can’t just show up and run teams off the floor. Fast breaks have to be earned with good defense, solid rebounding and good decision-making on offense. Play solid basketball, and then add in the razzle dazzle. After being stunned by a more efficient Oregon team, this win showed that UNLV can out-execute a quality team. Let’s see if the lesson sticks come Wednesday.
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