Throughout the first half, it looked like the Rebels were going to be able to enjoy a nice, leisurely Saturday afternoon. Their offense was clicking, their defense was suffocating, and they stormed out to a 49-27 halftime lead over Hawaii.
The second half was a different story, as UNLV had to battle turnovers, poor transition defense and spotty shooting to hold off the Rainbow Warriors, 77-63.
In the end it probably averages out to a solid victory, but it may have raised more questions than it answered. Mike Moser re-aggravated his preseason hip injury and was forced to miss the final six minutes, while Bryce Dejean-Jones sat out the final 18 minutes for matchup reasons.
So what went right in the first half? And what caused the drop-off in the second half? Let’s dive into some instant post-game analysis with a “Fast Breakdown.”
Mo goes down
With 6:03 remaining in the game, Moser went out with his fourth foul and never returned. After the game, Dave Rice said the training staff advised him not to use Moser again unless it was absolutely necessary. Moser missed several practices before the start of the season due to a nagging hip injury, and the hip appears to be the culprit here as well. There was no post-game update on Moser’s status, but Rice seemed hopeful that he would be able to play on Tuesday against Portland. UNLV survived without him down the stretch in this game, but they need Moser on the floor in order to contend.
Bench to the rescue
The Rebels’ reserves won this game. They out-scored the Hawaii bench, 34-12, with the trio of Savon Goodman (13 points), Quintrell Thomas (nine points) and Justin Hawkins (eight points) doing most of the damage. Goodman played his best game of the season, Thomas locked down Hawaii’s leading scorer (center Vander Joaquim, who shot just 3-10 from the field) and Hawkins came away with five steals. It was another example of UNLV overwhelming an opponent with depth.
Offense goes as Marshall goes
Anthony Marshall played an up-and-down game, and the Rebels followed suit. In the first half, Marshall ran the team flawlessly while posting five points, six assists and three turnovers. In the final frame, he had trouble initiating the offense against Hawaii’s zone, resulting in zero points, two assists and three more turnovers. The Rebels were unable to get the ball to Anthony Bennett in good spots, and a lot of that responsibility has to fall on the point guard. Marshall has been good so far in his move to the point, but he can still be even better.
Bryce on ice
On one of the first possessions of the second half, Bryce Dejean-Jones got the ball on a 2-on-1 break, kept it and tried to leap over a Hawaii defender for a highlight dunk. Instead, he got called for a charge (his third foul) and Rice pulled him from the game. Dejean-Jones never returned, finishing with just eight minutes for the day. Afterward, Rice said it was a matchup issue and that he wanted to stick with Hawkins’ defense in the second half. Still, this is a situation to monitor going forward. Dejean-Jones was unavailable to talk after the game.
Defense clamps down
One thing the Rebels have done consistently well is defend. They held Hawaii to 33.9 percent shooting in this game, including an ugly 1-18 showing from behind the 3-point line. Even when the offense has struggled this season, the players never seem to let it affect their focus on the defensive end. That’s a credit to Rice, and a big reason why they can win a game in which they shoot 31.3 percent in the second half.
What does it mean?
After six home games in which to work out the kinks, UNLV is hitting the road for the first time this season, playing at Portland on Tuesday and at Cal on Dec. 9. The biggest question mark is the health of Moser. If he’s held out, those games could be toss-ups. Even with him available, the Rebels haven’t exactly been consistent yet, and consistency is the most important factor when it comes to winning on the road. Guys like Goodman and Dejean-Jones are hard to project from game-to-game, so it should be interesting to see how the team responds to a hostile environment.
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