The National Finals Rodeo has come to town, and, as always, that means the Rebels hit the road. The extended time away from Thomas & Mack is always an interesting early-season challenge, and this year there was additional adversity: As the Rebels faced their first road game of the year at Portland on Dec. 4, they had to do it without Mike Moser, their leading rebounder. With a hometown crowd sprinkled with friends and relatives ready to cheer him on, Moser had to sit out with an injured hip flexor.
And so, with an established star on the bench, it was an emerging star—freshman Anthony Bennett—who carried the Rebels early on, scoring UNLV’s first seven points. Then the bottom dropped out for the Rebels for the rest of the half. A very physical Portland team took a 15-7 lead and finished the first half up 28-22.
But in the second half, the Rebels tightened up the defense and rode the coattails of a very hot Justin Hawkins, who was able to knock down four 3-pointers. More strong play came from Anthony Marshall and Quintrell Thomas, Marshall had 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists while Thomas finished with nine points, and seven rebounds. Hawkins who seems to find different ways to beat teams each game, had 15 points, three steals and three blocked shots.
Bennett-led the team in scoring with 18 points and added six rebounds. Carlos Lopez-Sosa, meanwhile, played solid even if the stats didn’t show it, and Katin Reinhardt and Bryce Dejean-Jones played well down the stretch after a rough first half. The Rebels were just 1-for-15 in 3-point shooting in the first half, and finished 6-25 for the game. Those numbers will have to improve when the Rebels face California on the road on Dec. 9. The Bears will be waiting for revenge from last year’s one-sided loss at the Thomas & Mack.