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Blog: UNLV dismantles Rice, 95-68


Steve Marcus

UNLV’s Jovan Mooring (30) lays up the ball against Rice during the MGM International Main Event basketball tournament at T-Mobile Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.

Updated Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 | 8:30 p.m.

UNLV may have just turned in its most impressive performance of the young season, as the Rebels dismantled Rice, 95-68, at T-Mobile Arena.

The game was never in question, as UNLV jumped out to a quick 20-9 lead and pushed the lead as high as 34 points in the second half. For the game, the Rebels shot 49.3 percent from the field, while Rice made just 35.6 percent of its shots.

Brandon McCoy was the offensive star for UNLV, as the freshman center totaled 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also pulled down 10 rebounds.

Shakur Juiston led UNLV with 19 rebounds and also contributed eight points and five assists.

UNLV is now 4-0 on the season and will face its toughest test on Wednesday night, when the Rebels will be matched up with either Utah or Ole Miss.

UNLV in cruise control in second half against Rice

With 10:08 remaining, UNLV still holds a commanding 75-47 lead over Rice.

The Rebels are beginning to empty the bench, as Brandon McCoy (21 points, seven rebounds), Shakur Juiston (six points, 18 rebounds) and Jordan Johnson (15 points) are all currently on the sideline.

UNLV's defense has been impressive, even as the intensity has naturally waned in the second half. Rice is shooting just 32.7 percent for the game and 6-of-20 from 3-point range.

UNLV blowing out Rice 51-24 at half

A game that looked like a mismatch on paper is playing out that way on the court, as UNLV has rolled to a 51-24 halftime lead over Rice.

Rice, which is short on true post players, has been unable to slow the Rebels inside. Freshman center Brandon McCoy has a game-high 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting, while junior power forward Shakur Juiston has 14 rebounds and four assists.

UNLV closed out the half on a 19-6 run to really open up the lead. Senior guard Jovan Mooring scored seven of his 12 points during that stretch.

UNLV shot 46.2 percent from the field over the first w0 minutes, while Rice was held to just 30.3 percent.

Rebels lead Rice, 25-14

Rice is a very small team, and if the first eight minutes are any indication, that is going to be an issue tonight.

UNLV has built up a 25-14 lead with 11:39 left in the first half, and the Rebels have mostly done it by imposing their will inside. Freshman center Brandon McCoy has six points on 3-of-3 shooting, and UNLV has already converted on six shots at the rim.

Shakur Juiston has also flexed his muscle in the early going, racking up eight rebounds. Kris Clyburn has carried over his hot shooting from the Rebels' win over Eastern Washington on Friday, as he's got a team-high seven points.

Three keys for UNLV basketball vs. Rice

UNLV basketball has gotten off to a blistering start this season, blowing out a succession of easy opponents to rack up a 3-0 record. The Rebels will try to continue their early stretch of impressive play tonight, when they take on Rice (1-2) at T-Mobile Arena.

A quick look at three keys to watch as UNLV attempts to improve to 4-0:

Interior advantage

Rice is a small team, with 6-foot-6 sophomore Robert Martin serving as the Owls’ most productive frontcourt player (8.0 points, 4.7 rebounds per game). Due to the lack of size, Rice is 237th in the nation in rebounding and 334th in blocked shots. UNLV excels in the paint, so look for big men Shakur Juiston and Brandon McCoy to dominate on the interior.

Johnson rebound

Jordan Johnson had to be frustrated after fouling out in 22 minutes against Eastern Washington. The senior guard will get a chance to make up for it tonight, however, as Rice is the kind of team that will probably try to run with the Rebels. The Owls are 69th in the nation in KenPom.com’s adjusted tempo stat (UNLV has played slightly faster, coming in at No. 43 in the country). In an open-court environment, Johnson could be poised to rack up a bunch of assists.

Change of venue

Tonight’s contest at T-Mobile Arena isn’t a true road game, as the Rebels will be playing just down the street from their full-time home. But after opening the season with three games at the Thomas & Mack Center against cupcake opponents (four games if you count an exhibition against Alaska Fairbanks), this will be the first time the Rebels will step out of their comfort zone in any way. It should be interesting to see how this rebuilt team responds to playing on a different stage for the first time this season.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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