Rebels basketball:

Blog: Bennett debuts with 22 points in UNLV’s 92-54 win against NAU

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Katin Reinhardt corrals a loose ball against Northern Arizona during the Rebels season opener Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack.

Updated Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 | 9:05 p.m.

UNLV vs. Northern Arizona 2012

UNLV forward Anthony Bennett is defended by Northern Arizona forward Ephraim Ekanem during the Rebels season opener Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won 92-54. Launch slideshow »

Freshman Anthony Bennett had 22 points and seven rebounds in his UNLV debut, leading the 18th-ranked Rebels to their first victory of the 2012-13 season, a 92-54 drubbing of Northern Arizona.

UNLV looked vastly different Monday night in front of 18,187 fans than it did in last week’s narrow exhibition victory against Dixie State. The Rebels hammered the ball inside to Bennett and the guards picked up easy shots on putback layups. Anthony Marshall scored 14, Bryce Dejean-Jones made his debut with 15 and freshman Katin Reinhardt scored 14. The crowd is the most for a UNLV season opener in school history.

Junior Mike Moser struggled offensively, scoring just two points, but impacted the game elsewhere with 11 rebounds and four assists. Marshall’s debut at point guard went well, too, as he finished with six assists and just two turnovers.

The Rebels still settled for 3-pointers far too much to defeat a higher quality opponent — they were 8-for-26 — but that’s easier to overlook when a lot of their other shots were within five feet of the basket.

UNLV returns to action at home Saturday at 7 against Jacksonville State. Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight’s game.

Halftime: Reinhardt keys the Rebels to 16-0 run, 45-23 lead at the break

The new additions are stealing the show for UNLV in tonight’s season opener against NAU. Bryce-Dejean Jones, who redshirted last season, has 12 points, freshman Anthony Bennett has scored 11 and fellow freshman Katin Reinhardt has made several highlight plays as the Rebels lead 45-23 at halftime.

Bennett started things off with a big two-handed dunk and scored seven points in the first four minutes, then after a Lumberjacks counterattack the Rebels closed the first half with a 16-0 run. Reinhardt has seven points, all during that run, and senior point guard Anthony Marshall has six points and four assists.

The Rebels have nearly doubled the Lumberjacks in shooting percentage (50 to 25.8) and are killing them on the boards (25-15).

Second halves have been a constant problem for this UNLV team, but as long as they keep the intensity somewhere near the first-half levels and avoid chucking 3-pointers too much — they were 5-for-14 in the first half — then the Rebels should cruise to their first victory.

UNLV's highly anticipated 2012-13 season starts tonight at 7

Las Vegas has been waiting for tonight at least since last March, and arguably for the last 20 years. The 2012-13 season begins at 7 p.m. in the Thomas & Mack Center when No. 18 UNLV hosts Northern Arizona.

As of this afternoon there were fewer than 400 tickets remaining, all but ensuring the Mack will be sold out for the season opener for the first time in more than 20 years. People are obviously excited about this Rebels team, but an important thing to remember that UNLV in March probably won’t look anything like the group you see tonight.

For one, projected starter Khem Birch doesn’t join the team, so the Rebels start the year with just nine scholarship players eligible. And as anyone who saw UNLV’s exhibition game against Dixie State can attest, this team is going to need some time to integrate all of the new pieces. Not only has half the rotation never played a minute for UNLV before, even some returners are in new spots. Senior Anthony Marshall is now the starting point guard and junior Mike Moser will play even more out on the perimeter.

There will be moments both great and ugly from UNLV early in the season. That’s part of the growing process as they figure out how best to play hard together and finish off the games they’re supposed to win. The important thing tonight is that the Rebels show improvement from the exhibition game, an 81-80 overtime victory, when they made the same mistakes as last year by putting up far too many 3-pointers and coming out flat in the second half.

This team and its fans have grand goals for this season but the Rebels can’t achieve all of that right now. It’s about small steps right now.

THE OTHER SIDE

NAU projected lineup

G — Stallon Salvidar, 6-0, Sr

G — Gabe Rogers, 6-3, Sr

G — Michael Dunn, 6-0, Sr

F — Ephraim Ekanem, 6-7, Sr

F — Gaellan Bewernick, 6-6, So

Sixth man — F, Max Jacobson, 6-8, Jr

Best name: Ephraim Ekanem (pronounced ee-frum EE-CAN-um)

Extra storyline: First-year coach Jack Murphy is the son-in-law of current UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood.

Useless Wikipedia factoid: The team’s colors, navy and gold, are actually different from the school colors, which are navy and sea-foam green.

Kenpom line: UNLV -28

Vegas line: UNLV -27

Bern’s take: With four starting seniors and recent proof they’re not scared on the road, Northern Arizona may not be the pushover some people think they are. On Saturday the Lumberjacks led Oregon in Eugene by one with less than six minutes to play. The Ducks’ talent eventually won out in a 10-point victory, but the game proved NAU is capable of playing above its head. The excitement of the Mack may prove too much for the Lumberjacks but I’ll side with the seniority being enough to keep this closer than the spread. UNLV 85, NAU 69.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Obviously Taylor Bern never read Dan Brown; "Don't worry your kids are gonna love it".....

  2. I'm not concerned if we only pull out a 10 or 12 point win tonight. We lost a four-year starting PG, and we have a few new faces. It will take time, and hopefully Rebel fans know this.

    There's a truckload of hype for this team and Moser, and I agree that it's a bit much so early. Don't get caught up in it, and don't look for the old 42 point blowout against a middle of the road team. The game has changed quite a bit since 1990 - it's way more competive these days.

    UNLV 76 NAU 62

    Go Rebels!

  3. Taylorrrrrrrrrrrrr.....take it it from a long time rebel afficianondo ......too much energy in the Thomas n Mack tonight and the reb defense will swarm .....nostro- rebel Jedi says. Rebs 92- NAU. 60

  4. Dang...off my game....92-54...... Sorry.... :)