UNLV basketball:

Final: No. 24 UNLV moves to 4-1 behind solid 85-57 victory against UC Irvine

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall wags his finger signifying “No” after the Rebels rejected a UC Irvine shot during their game Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack.

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 | 9:11 p.m.

Mike Moser finished one rebound shy of a double-double, Anthony Bennett scored 19 and No. 24 UNLV rolled to a 85-57 victory against UC Irvine on Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

This was a workmanlike victory for the Rebels, which is probably the way they would like it. Anthony Marshall had eight assists to just one turnover in addition to six points, Justin Hawkins poured in eight and Carlos Lopez-Sosa hit the first 3-pointer of his career before promptly airballing his next two attempts.

UNLV won the rebounding battle, it made the extra pass and for the first-time this season it will finish with single-digit turnovers (?). The Rebels were never threatened in the second half and the only highlights came on sequences that didn’t really factor much into the outcome.

Katin Reinhardt scored just two at halftime but finished with 13. He and Marshall both played well, allowing UNLV coach Dave Rice to keep freshman Daquan Cook on the bench and not burn his redshirt.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from tonight’s game.

Halftime: Moser's 11 points have paced the Rebels to a 34-26 lead

Mike Moser has 11 points and Carlos Lopez-Sosa made the first 3-pointer of his career, leading No. 24 UNLV to a 34-26 lead at halftime.

Freshman Anthony Bennett scored six points before sitting at the end of the half with two fouls. In addition to the 3, Lopez-Sosa has three assists in seven minutes.

The Rebels aren’t playing great on offense — 37.5 percent from the floor, 22.2 behind the arc — but defensively they’ve been great in stretches. UC Irvine has kept it close by going on runs built mostly on getting the ball inside in transition. When UNLV has cut off those lanes the Rebels have looked great with their defensive rotations and constant pressure.

If the Rebels are going to pull away in the second half, they’ll need more of those positive stretches and fewer lapses. Either way, UNLV has been in control of the game from the tip.

Pregame blog: UC Irvine has proved to be tough game for opponents this year

If this game were played next season, UNLV could find itself playing against not one, not two but three seven-footers for UC Irvine.

The Anteaters clearly believe that in basketball size matters. They currently have a pair of 6-10 sophomores and 7-foot freshman Conor Clifford. And in the early signing period last week they got two more big men: Giannis Dimakopoulos, a 7-2 center from Greece, and top-100 recruit Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-5 post player out of California.

The prospect of three seven-footers on the court at the same time for the same team is all I will be able to think about while watching No. 24 UNLV host this year’s version of the Anteaters tonight at 7 on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Of course UC Irvine is unlikely to use that lineup even when they have all that height but hey, I can dream.

In lieu of that fantastic version of big man basketball, we’re going to get a clash of teams in a game that could go a lot of different directions depending on what type of Rebels show up.

The ones who like to jack a bunch of 3-pointers could get into a shootout very easily because that’s exactly what UCI wants to do, too. The Anteaters have attempted the 30th-most 3-pointers in the country thus far, hitting them at a respectable 36 percent clip. Iowa State liked to take a bunch of 3s too, so if they’re not falling UNLV’s defense will have a chance to look really good.

If UCI is hitting them though, the onus is on UNLV to not chase with more 3s. Whatever the score is, the Rebels know their offense works best when it comes off turnovers and looks inside first. That game plan has a way of getting tossed out in the midst of a fast-paced, back-and-forth game.

The Rebels have to hope that eventually cooler heads will prevail no matter how the game is going but tonight may be too soon to expect that kind of an adjustment to take place in game. So if UCI comes out shooting well, buckle up. It could get interesting.

THE OTHER SIDE

UC Irvine projected lineup

G — Derick Flowers, 6-0, Sr, 5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg

G — Daman Starring, 6-3, Sr, 13.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2 apg

G — Michael Wilder, 6-2, Sr, 10.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg

F — Adam Folker, 6-9, Sr, 5.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 apg

F — Will Davis II, 6-8, So, 6.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg

Sixth man — G, Chris McNealy, 6-4, Jr, 10 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3 apg

Best name: Peter the Anteater (team mascot)

Extra storyline: Starring, the team's leading scorer, was born in Las Vegas before moving to California.

Useless Wikipedia factoid: There’s a series of tunnels underground on campus, and the story passed down is that the tunnels were created to evacuate teachers in case of a student riot.

Kenpom line: UNLV -16

Vegas line: UNLV -14.5

Bern’s take: While the one-point loss at UCLA doesn’t look quite as impressive given the Bruins’ struggles since then, UC Irvine still should be credited for hanging tough no matter where it plays. Three of their four losses are by a combined six points and the Anteaters beat UNR by 14. It’s tough to tell exactly how good UCI is, but behind a senior-heavy lineup it appears they’ll be a tough game no matter who’s on the other side. UNLV 83, UC Irvine 73

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

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  1. As I said months ago, Reinhardt needs to run the point...period...he looked very comfortable......rebels were MUCH improved in their patience.....excellent passing, and patience....

  2. If the rebels played patient like they did tonight against Oregon, they would have won by 20...... This might be a light bulb moment...at least they proved they can listen to the coach.....this was not just a win...they played totally different...great job listening to coach....

  3. Re-bels!