Thanksgiving weekend was tough on the Rebels. On Friday night, they lost to Oregon at the Thomas & Mack Center, 83-79. The next day—the last of the Global Sports Classic—they beat Iowa State 82-70. It was an instructive pair of games for the Rebels and their fans.
The Oregon game showed the Rebels have to be a better rebounding team: The Ducks finished the
game with 13 offensive rebounds and an overall 38-35 edge on the boards. UNLV also had 18 turnovers, and if the team is to live up to its potential, the guards will have to take better care of the ball—especially against a pressing defense. Combine those turnovers with just eight fast break points, and it’s clear the running game was not functioning the way coach Dave Rice would like. To make matters worse, the Ducks were often more physical than the Rebels.
The Iowa State game again showed the Rebels’ need to be more physical, as the Cyclones pulled down 24 offensive rebounds. Fortunately, strong defense and a more patient offensive performance—just 10 3-point attempts as opposed to 30 against Oregon—propelled the Rebels to the win. Anthony Bennett was again impressive—scoring 22 to match his output against Oregon and grabbing seven rebounds. Moser came back from a subpar performance against Oregon to tally 15 points and 12 rebounds. And the guard play from Anthony Marshall, Katin Reinhart and Justin Hawkins was solid. Another boost was the energy brought by Quintrell Thomas, Savon Goodman and Bryce Jones.
With a talented UC Irvine team coming to town Wednesday, the Rebels have to grow up fast—there are few soft spots on the early schedule, and the team should start building its NCAA portfolio now.