Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 | 9:10 p.m.
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 85, UC IRVINE 57
- Blog: UNLV disposes of UC Irvine, 85-57
- Moser’s happy on offense helping the new Rebels find their own shots
- UNLV’s Bennett misses practice, may miss game because of lower-back issue
- Rebels basketball dips in the polls after Friday’s home loss to Oregon
- ‘Mad’ Rebels get back on track with an 82-70 victory against Iowa State
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
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.