The Rebels are trending upward after an impressive rout of UC-Irvine on Wednesday, and that's reflected in this edition of "Ups and Downs."
Dave Rice was complimentary with the team's overall performance, and the players also said they could feel things coming together. So how did the Rebels get back on track? What worked? And what didn't? Let's jump right in.
The Moser-Bennett combo
For the second straight game, UNLV got All-American caliber play from its two biggest players. Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett combined for 38 points and 15 rebounds, just days after they put up 37 and 19 against Iowa State. After the game, Moser and Bennett both expressed that they're getting more comfortable playing together, and their comfort level is evident on the court. Bennett has been a beast on the low block, while Moser is generating a lot of offense by facing up in the mid-post. This duo is doing work right now.
This was originally Anthony Marshall's spot, but I wanted to expand it to include the entire team's passing performance against UC-Irvine. The Rebels have been guilty of both shooting too quickly and over-passing at times this season, but they really struck the right balance against Irvine. Marshall racked up nine assists, and the team recorded 22 assists on its 27 field goals. Carlos Lopez-Sosa even got into the act, picking up four assists in 12 minutes, including a pair of beautiful touch passes inside for easy layups.
I wanted to put Savon Goodman in the "Ups" column after Iowa State, but I hadn't seen enough at that point. One good game could have been a fluke. But Goodman was at it again in the Irvine game, coming off the bench to provide 19 energy-packed minutes. The freshman forward chipped in six points, seven rebounds (three offensive), two steals and a block. He also brought the house down with a thunderous fast-break dunk. If Goodman can keep up this level of play consistently, he'll continue to earn even more playing time.
Katin Reinhardt's second-half offense
For the second time this season, Katin Reinhardt exploded in the second half of a game and led the Rebels in scoring after intermission. After posting two points in the first half, he hit 3-of-6 shots and put up 11 points in the final frame, including back-to-back 3-pointers that basically put the contest out of reach. Afterward, Reinhardt said it was natural for him to be more productive in the second half, once opposing defenses start keying in on Moser and Bennett. That formula is definitely working for Reinhardt.
There weren't many areas to nitpick against UC-Irvine, but you know I never like to leave the "Downs" section empty. The Rebels haven't been good in transition this season, and that trend continued against Irvine. The Rebels got stops on defense and forced 15 turnovers, so you would expect them to score more than nine fast-break points, but their running game just hasn't been producing — last year, UNLV scored 1.147 points per possession in transition, while that number is down to 0.868 this season. It's probably a chemistry issue that will improve once the players are more used to playing together, but expect Rice to put an emphasis on better fast-break efficiency in upcoming practices.
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