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Blog: Rebels fall by double digits to Loyola Marymount in opener

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong (34) hangs on the rim after dunking against Loyola Marymount Lions at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.

Updated Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 | 8:53 p.m.

This isn’t how the UNLV basketball team envisioned opening the season.

The Rebels committed 24 turnovers and only shot 2 of 16 on 3-pointers in a 61-50 loss to visiting Loyola Marymount at the Thomas & Mack Center. They were outscored by 18 points in the second half.

Shakur Juiston had a team-high 12 points for UNLV, who were expected to be improved in Marvin Menzies’ third season as coach. That may still be the case — it just didn’t appear that way tonight.

The Rebels play UC Riverside on Tuesday.

Check back later for more, including reaction from Menzies.

UNLV down by 9 points late in opener against Loyola Marymount

UNLV will need to overcome a nine-point deficit in the final seven minutes against Loyola Marymount if it wants to win the season opener.

The Rebels’ seven-point halftime advantage was quickly erased, and the Rebels are struggling to find themselves on offense. UNLV is just 1 of 13 on 3-pointers, and it has committed 20 turnovers.

Shakur Juiston leads the Rebels with 12 points and seven rebounds. He’s the lone UNLV player in double figures.

Rebels finish first half strong against Loyola Marymount

Kris Clyburn and Cheikh Mbacke Diong each have six points for the UNLV basketball team, helping the Rebels lead Loyola Marymount 25-18 at halftime in the home opener at the Thomas & Mack Center.

After a slow start, the Rebels closed the half with a handful of positive offensive possessions, including a 3-pointer from Clyburn.

Shakur Juiston has been solid on the interior, posting five points and seven rebounds.

The Rebels have 12 turnover and only made 1 of 8 3-point attempts. But the UNLV defense has been strong, especially with Diong (two blocks) and Juiston near the basket. LMU has made just 8 of 31 field goal attempts.

Rebels, Loyola Marymount going back and forth in opener

UNLV and Loyola Marymount are trading baskets midway through the first half of the college basketball opener, with the Rebels using four points from Cheikh Mbacke Diong for a 12-12 tie with 7:13 to play before halftime.

It hasn’t been pretty for UNLV. The Rebels have 12 turnovers and have struggled to find their rhythm offensively.

UNLV Falls to Loyola Marymount in Season Opener

UNLV Rebels forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong (34) hangs on the rim after dunking against Loyola Marymount Lions at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. Launch slideshow »

LMU has made just 6 of 23 field goal attempts, but UNLV hasn’t been much better in connecting on 5 of 14 shots.

There’s about 9,000 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center. Diong has brought them to their feet twice — one a breakaway dunk for a brief 12-10 lead, and a blocked shot near the rim.

Buckle up. This game won’t be decided until the end.

Pregame: Rebels open third year with Menzies against Loyola Marymount

It’s impossible to put much stock into the first game of any season, regardless of the sport. A win is nice and gives a program something to build.

But a loss doesn't spell the end, because it’s just one game and there are plenty of opportunities remaining to have a successful campaign.

For the UNLV basketball team, though, this philosophy could be flawed. The Rebels, in coach Marvin Menzies’ third season, can’t afford to slip up at 7 p.m. when they open the season at the Thomas & Mack Center against Loyola Marymount.

Reason being: The Rebels’ lone way to reach the NCAA Tournament on an at-large bid is by having just a handful of defeats in the regular season, and even then, the Rebels’ schedule is so weak they won’t be an attractive pick for the selection committee.

A loss to Loyola Marymount, which plays in a lower-tier league, would destroy the Rebels’ postseason hopes. The Rebels likely won’t win the Mountain West tournament because UNR is a top-10 team nationally and San Diego State is also expected to be strong.

That means winning a majority of its games is UNLV’s best bet, and that starts tonight. When you consider the Rebels needed a last-second layup to beat Montana State-Billings in an exhibition last week, that may be easier said than done.

But it won’t be impossible.

The Rebels have experience at many positions, especially at point guard with Akron transfer Noah Robotham, and on the inside with Shakur Juiston. Juiston averaged 14.3 points and 10 rebounds per game last season and will partner with sophomore Mbacke Diong to give the Rebels an advantage on the interior.

UNLV doesn’t have a great outside shooter and is still rebuilding after Menzies inherited the program in 2016 with just two players. We should have some answers tonight.

Check back later for game updates and analysis.

Brewer’s prediction: UNLV 82, Loyola Marymount 70

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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