Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 | 10:50 p.m.
UNLV’s game against Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday night wasn’t expected to be competitive, and it wasn’t, as the Rebels rolled to a 95-63 victory that felt more like a practice session than a non-conference contest against a Division I opponent.
So overmatched was Mississippi Valley State that the Rebels committed turnovers on six of their first eight possessions and barely shrugged. Despite the slow start, UNLV recovered to make 19 of its first 25 shots from the field (76.0 percent) to take a 52-21 lead into halftime.
Seven UNLV players finished in double figures, led by Jovan Mooring and Brandon McCoy (13 points apiece).
After the game, Mooring said the Rebels started slow because there were so many easy scoring opportunities.
“I think we got a little too excited,” said Mooring, who made 5-of-6 shots from the field. “We knew we could get into the paint whenever we wanted and I just think sometimes we got a little too excited and ended up losing the ball.”
Once UNLV settled in, Mississippi Valley State was barely a blip on the radar. The Delta Devils came into the game rated as the worst DI team in the nation according to KenPom.com, and the talent disparity was obvious. Even UNLV’s bench players throttled MVSU, as reserves Amauri Hardy, Cheickna Dembele, Tervell Beck and Mbacke Diong combined for 34 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
For the game, UNLV shot 63.0 percent while holding Mississippi Valley State to 38.2 percent. MVSU struggled just to move the ball for much of the night and finished with just three assists.
After posting a career-high 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 3FGs), Hardy said the Rebels learned from the game despite the lopsided score, and that it would help prepare the team for Friday’s home game against Northern Colorado.
“In a game like this, we learned a lot about ourselves,” Hardy said. “Going into this game we wanted to fix a lot of things, so I think it was a great game for us to sharpen up on our weaknesses so we can go into this next game with a win.”
Shakur Juiston helped UNLV control the paint by posting 12 points (6-of-8 FGs) and 10 rebounds.
After the rash of early turnovers, UNLV settled down and committed just six giveaways in the second half.
Head coach Marvin Menzies said he wasn’t concerned about the turnovers and stressed that a game like this is more about teaching and development than it is about the final score.
“It’s an opportunity to grow,” Menzies said. “We had ebbs and flows in the game where we did some of the things we wanted to do, and then at other points we didn’t. We have to continue to try to search for consistency. We’ll never play a perfect game.”
UNLV improved to 10-2 on the season, and with one non-conference game remaining, the Rebels can match last year’s overall win total of 11 with a victory over Northern Colorado on Friday.