Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 | 5:55 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 | 9:10 p.m.
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Justin Hawkins came off the bench and scored 16 points, Mike Moser led all scorers with 19 and No. 18 UNLV moved to 2-0 with a 77-58 victory against Jacksonville State on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels won with their defense for much of the night, holding the Gamecocks just 14 points on 21.7 percent shooting in the first half. Jacksonville State found some holes on the inside against UNLV in the second half but it wasn’t nearly enough to get them back into the game. The Gamecocks never got their second-half deficit to less than 10 points.
UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett was one rebound shy of a double-double, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds. As a team the Rebels dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Gamecocks by a wide margin.
The Rebels’ offense never took great control of the ball, finishing with 18 total turnovers, but that hardly mattered in the grand scheme of this game. Jacksonville State shot fewer than 10 total 3-point attempts and simply didn’t have the artillery to keep pace.
The Rebels return to the Mack on Friday night at 6 to play Oregon in the Global Sports Classic. The next day UNLV will play either Iowa State or Cincinnati.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight’s game.Halftime: Hawkins, Moser and defense lead Rebels charge against Jacksonville State
Senior guard Justin Hawkins came off the bench and scored 11 points to lead UNLV basketball to a 32-14 halftime lead against Jacksonville State in the Thomas & Mack Center.
Junior forward Mike Moser started things off for the Rebels by taking four of the team’s first five shots and scoring 12 in the first half. He struggled overall, though, committing four turnovers. During a stretch in the middle of the first half many of UNLV’s offensive possessions ended either in turnovers (11) or bad shots.
The Rebels could weather that storm because their defense never let up. UNLV held the Gamecocks to just 21.7 percent shooting from the floor and owned the rebounding battle 25-11.
Since Jacksonville State is hesitant to shoot the 3 — just 1-for-4 in the first half — UNLV’s defense really doesn’t need to change. Give them those shots if they want them, because they’re clearly not comfortable shooting it.
And on offense coach Dave Rice would just like to see UNLV take care of the ball better. They’re passing it around, sometimes even being too unselfish with the ball, and so if they just make a few less passes, or at least smarter ones, the turnovers should take care of themselves.Pregame blog: UNLV basketball back on the court against Jacksonville State
Now that the excitement has died down, at least a little bit, it’s time for UNLV basketball to start making the game-to-game adjustments that will define its season.
For example, if No. 18 UNLV (1-0) dominates the paint at 7 tonight in the Thomas & Mack Center against Jacksonville State (3-0) the same way it did in a 92-54 victory against Northern Arizona, that would demonstrate a concerted effort to again get the ball inside and also better play to finish around the rim. NAU’s lineup was so small it couldn’t contend with the Rebels. Although Jacksonville State is far from UNLV’s size and athleticism, it does at least present an uptick in competition and thus a chance to see what the Rebels learned from that game.
Sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones is going to make his first career start for UNLV, an indication that he’s getting closer to full health after breaking two bones in his left, nonshooting hand in early October. He and the other three eligible newcomers — freshmen Anthony Bennett, Katin Reinhardt and Savon Goodman — all scored in double figures against NAU. Their production will be a focal point for viewers trying to look for indications as to whether any, or all, of these guys will be able to sustain those type of performances throughout a season.
It’s still early, of course, and as long as UNLV wins this game, that’s all that matters as far as the team is concerned. But the coaching staff and fans want to see progress and see the new pieces learning on their feet.
Can UNLV maintain its defensive intensity against this team? Will the Rebels try to assert themselves inside before shooting open 3-pointers? Will Mike Moser bounce back offensively after a 2-point effort against NAU?
There are still countless questions with this team, but tonight we have the chance to get a few more answers.
THE OTHER SIDE
Jacksonville State projected lineup
G — Ronnie Boggs, 6-4, Sr, 12 ppg, 6 rpg, 68 fg%
G — Brian Williams, 6-1, Jr, 11.7 ppg, 3 rpg, 4:1 Ast-TO ratio
G — Darion Rackley, 6-2, So, 11.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 82 ft%
F — Tarvin Gaines, 6-6, Sr, 11 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 46 fg%
F — Nick Cook, 6-6, Jr, 8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 69 fg%
Sixth man — G, Mason Leggett, 6-0, Sr, 6.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 57 fg%
Best name: F, Rinaldo Mafra, 6-7, Sr
Useless Wikipedia factoid: The university originally was known as the Jacksonville State Normal School.
Extra storyline: Freshman reserve forward Mike Louder graduated from Coronado High in Henderson. Also, the Gamecocks already beat a Reinhardt this season — Division II Reinhardt University.
Kenpom line: UNLV -18
Vegas line: UNLV -20
Bern’s take: The Gamecocks played Thursday night, an 18-point victory against Alabama A&M. That’s likely going to mean tired legs, especially if the Rebels get the game going at their pace early on. And I think they will. It may be a bit close in the second half, but with about 10 minutes left the Gamecocks will run out of gas. UNLV 83, Jacksonville State 60.