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Blog: Rebels hold on by slimmest of margins against Morehead State

UNLV

L.E. Baskow

UNLV’s Patrick McCaw (2) slaps the ball away from Morehead State’s Marcus Fuggins (11) during the first half of the basketball team’s home opener at the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014.

Updated Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 | 9:48 p.m.

UNLV 60, Morehead State 59

Game over

The Rebels came up with a stop when they needed it and they hold on for a thrilling 60-59 victory against Morehead State. UNLV is 1-0 and returns to action at the Mack on Sunday at 5 p.m. against Sam Houston State.

UNLV trailed by five at halftime in large part because the Eagles dominated the paint, leading 20-14 in points down there. The Rebels clamped down on that in the second half, using mostly a zone and stymieing Morehead's attack.

Pat McCaw hit some big 3s, Rashad Vaughn had a huge one to put the Rebels ahead and Christian Wood had some nice offensive moments set up his positioning and Cody Doolin finding him in the right spot. Doolin was the key. When he went out in the first half with foul trouble, that's when Morehead State started its rally. He's was phenomenal in the second half, finishing with seven assists, six rebounds and three points.

Vaughn introduced himself with 26 points, though a lot of that was due to free throws. The Rebels got the benefit of a lot of calls, shooting 13 more free throws than Morehead State.

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

The Rebel Room

UNLV's Got (Don't Say) Talent

On this episode of UNLV's Got Talent, Rebels beat writer Taylor Bern tells colleagues Ray Brewer and Case Keefer why they need to stop using that word as the go-to for UNLV's basketball program.

It’s here. Finally, it’s here. The start of the 2014-15 season arrived today and for UNLV it tips off at 7:30 tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Rebels start things off with a deceptively difficult pair of home games. Tonight it’s Morehead State, a team returning four starters from a 20-win squad, and at 5 p.m. Sunday it’s Sam Houston State, which won 24 games last season.

They’re not name-brand programs, but they can pack a wallop if you’re not looking and bettors agree. UNLV has slipped from a 7-point favorite to 5.5 as money comes in on Morehead State.

The Eagles are expected to contend for the Ohio Valley Conference title this season and it will be interesting to see what role former Rebel Karam Mashour ends up playing. Mashour, who transferred in 2012 after barely getting off UNLV’s bench for two seasons, missed all but two games last season with a back injury.

This is his final year and there’s playing time in Morehead State’s rotation for him if he’s healthy and productive enough to take it.

But enough about the opponent. All of you, I’m guessing, want the same thing as me, which is to see UNLV against some real competition. Florida National doesn’t qualify and I couldn’t pick a lock to get into UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, so this is the first look at a new lineup preparing for a new kind of basketball.

That’s the idea, anyway. One thing UNLV coach Dave Rice has brought up a few times is that he’s not going to promise specific style anymore — very smart, in my opinion — but he still wants to push the ball and senior point guard Cody Doolin seems willing to follow that order in a way we haven’t seen the past couple of seasons.

There will be growing pains, perhaps even tonight, but that’s part of the fun in following a team all season. It’s not always good and, in most cases, it’s not always bad.

There’s so much to figure out about this year’s UNLV team, and I look forward to getting started tonight.

Bern’s prediction: I no longer like this score — too many points, margin of victory too much — but since it’s what I had in today’s predictions column no reason to change it. UNLV 84, Morehead State 72

Season: ATS 0-0, O/U 0-0

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

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