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December 22, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

ray brewer:

Instant Analysis: If Wednesday’s win against UC Irvine is any indication, Rebels won’t live and die with the 3-pointer

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Mike Moser drives to the basket past UC Irvine forward Will Davis II during their game Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack.

UNLV vs. UC Irvine

UNLV forward Mike Moser drives to the basket past UC Irvine forward Will Davis II during their game Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack. Launch slideshow »

If the UNLV basketball team only makes 22-percent of its attempts on 3-pointers in the first half, you could easily assume the Rebels would be involved in a closely contested game or trailing.

Well, the Rebels were just 2-of-9 on 3-pointers for 22-percent in the first half Wednesday against visiting UC Irvine. And, believe it or not, the cold shooting touch was no reason to hit the panic button.

That’s because this year’s edition of the UNLV basketball team doesn’t live or die with its performance from the perimeter. The Rebels badly beat UC Irvine 85-57 because of a better arsenal in the attack — taking the ball to the basket.

After all, when you have two or three of the best players on the court every game, aggressively attacking the rim against a weaker defender should be the first option.

Of UNLV’s 34 first-half points, 18 of them came in the paint and another eight came from the free throw line. One of the 3-pointers came from 6-foot-11 post player Carlos Lopez-Sosa on his second career 3-point attempt. (Later in the game, another 3-point attempt was an air-ball).

This was the fifth UNLV game of the season, and in each one, the likes of Anthony Bennett, Mike Moser and Bryce Dejean-Jones regularly beat defenders off the dribble for easy points in the paint. Those Anthony Bennett dunks where the rim and backboard continue to rattle for seconds after the basket need to be more important than Bennett — or others — stepping back for a 3-pointer.

When they attack the basket, better opportunities will be created for shooters hanging around the perimeter. It’s a balance previous UNLV teams failed to accomplish with offensive success relying too heavily on the 3-pointer. That’s not the case this year. UNLV, which never trailed and scored 51 second-half points, wound up making 5-of-18 of its 3-pointers in finding a good balance of attempts that should be beneficial in future games.

Here are some other observations from Wednesday’s game:

Coach Rice will be happy: UNLV had 22 assists on 27 field goals made — a comparison coach Dave Rice constantly refers to when evaluating his offense. Wednesday’s effort was near perfect — they had just seven turnovers. Point guard Anthony Marshall led the charge with nine assists and just one turnover, and when Marshall was getting a breather, Katin Reinhardt had three assists and no turnovers running the offense. The willingness to make the extra pass and the unselfish play, is a good indication Rice’s offensive philosophies are sticking. While UNLV only had nine fast break points, its performance in the halfcourt offense is yet another speak volumes. This year’s team is ahead of the pace of last year’s game in terms of its offensive development.

Don’t forget about this freshman: Compliment after compliment have been used to describe freshmen Anthony Bennett and Katin Reinhardt. And, rightfully so because they are a pair of top-30 prospects who have lived up to their recruiting hype. Just don’t forget about the kid from Philly. Savon Goodman isn’t as prolific offensively as Bennett or Reinhardt, but he frequently impacts the game in a similar fashion. He always makes the most of his minutes, scoring four points and grabbing seven rebounds in 16 productive minutes against UC Irvine. Last weekend against Iowa State, he made 4-of-6 shots for eight points in 14 minutes. More important, he plays with a chip on his shoulder and isn’t afraid to be aggressive in the paint.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Nice second half Rebels! Looking forward to more as the season progresses.

  2. Not sure about this team so far. I see 2 different sides of them. Q, Savon, Moser, Bennett, Hawkins.. seem to be trying to play unselfishly and as a team. The rest of the guys are forcing shots and trying to get theirs. Marshall is stuck in the middle somewhere, it is obvious he is uncomfortable in his new PG role. The Rebels are going to need to figure out their identity pretty soon or they are going to get blasted on this road stint.