UNLV Extras: More indications the Rebels are peaking at the right time

Image

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

From left, UNLV’s Demetris Morant, Anthony Marshall, Justin Hawkins and Bryce Dejena-Jones celebrate as they pull ahead of Boise State Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 68-64.

UNLV vs. Boise State: March 5, 2013

Hey Reb walks off with UNLV guard Katin Reinhardt after the Rebels knocked off Boise State 68-64 Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Breaking down the brackets

  • You need to upgrade your Flash Player

CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello joins Las Vegas Sun reporter Taylor Bern to discuss UNLV's seeding possibilities in Part One, and then at the 15:30 mark Taylor is joined by SI.com's Andy Glockner who offers his insight to the Mountain West's collective standing as we approach tournament time. All rights for the intro, outro and intermission music to alt-J, so go buy their album.

UNLV is currently 34-1 in its last 35 regular-season games at the Thomas & Mack Center, a stretch that includes 14 straight victories and 16 in a row in conference play. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Despite their struggles in nearly two full seasons under coach Dave Rice, the Rebels have never lost three in a row, mainly because there’s always a home game in there to help them get back on track. It doesn’t always fix their issues, but it’s a huge advantage to be able to go into any home game knowing you have a great chance to win.

The only blemish on that record is the four-point loss to Oregon earlier this season. After watching the Rebels and the crowd overwhelm Boise State in a 68-64 victory Tuesday night, despite getting nearly the best the Broncos had to offer, makes that Oregon game seem like an eternity ago.

Marshall tops Dejean-Jones

This is the second straight great game for Bryce Dejean-Jones that was overshadowed by a teammates’ performance.

Against UNR, Dejean-Jones actually played the most efficient offensive game of any Rebel but Mike Moser had effectively put the game out of reach with 20 points in the first half. And on Tuesday, Dejean-Jones was solid — 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting, 6-for-8 on free throws, three rebounds, two steals and five assists to no turnovers in 36 minutes — but Anthony Marshall’s game actually set the new bar for efficiency, earning a 181 Offensive Rating, according to kenpom.com. That’s now the highest of any Rebel in conference play, surpassing Dejean-Jones’ 167 from Saturday.

This is all meaningless in that it’s all good news for the Rebels, so who cares who was slightly more efficient on offense. Dejean-Jones' biggest leap is probably his defense, where the Rebels can now trust him to guard several positions.

And the possibly great news to all of this is that three of the Rebels’ main contributors have played arguably their best games of the season in the past week.

Offense vs. defense

Would you rather play with freshman Katin Reinhardt, who showed Tuesday he can get hot from deep at any moment but has limitations on defense and a propensity for turnovers, or senior Justin Hawkins, who hasn’t hit a 3-pointer since Jan. 19 but can play up to four positions on the floor.

Put them together and you have the perfect player. The closest thing on UNLV’s current roster is Dejean-Jones, though his defense isn’t on par with Hawkins’.

But since you can’t combine them (Jatin Hawkhardt would be all-league, no question) Rice has to make a decision between them at certain times. And in those moments, which way would you lean?

Since the lineups were mostly small against the Broncos, Rice didn’t have to pick between them very often. Reinhardt played 30 minutes; Hawkins played 25, and it was Hawkins who made the extra pass to find Reinhardt wide open for the dagger 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds.

But when the lineup is big, it most likely goes Marshall at 1, Dejean-Jones at 3, Moser or Anthony Bennett at 4 and Bennett or Khem Birch at 5. That leaves the 2, where Reinhardt starts and Hawkins primarily plays off the bench. In the coming weeks, we will likely see a tight, end-of-game situation with this configuration and it may be as simple as subbing each guy in for their specialty. But if push comes to shove, it will be interesting to see whether the freshman or the senior gets the nod.

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

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 7 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. Dude: come on.....jhawk v katin.... Really?.. I love jhawk......but a) Katins defense isn't that bad and b) jhawk s offense is horrible. Dude has been blowing layup s all season...forget the 3 point shooting slump...he can't finish a break to save his life. Reinhardt is veryyyyy crafty with the ball...a few forced passes yes, but that craftiness is needed on this team. As for jhawks defense I haven't seen any shutdown games for him.............,j hawk needs to play about 5 mins less a game and Savon should increase.

  2. When you are a liability on offense you just make the defense easier for the opponent

  3. One more thing....how can rice play cook and jhawk at same time.....neither can score a bucket!!!

  4. Yes Katin should play alot of minutes, which he does. Coach Rice knows that Katin is a big factor in our success and will continue to get the majority of minutes at the 2 but JHawk makes winning plays at crunch time. He has done it his whole career. Just this year, how about that offensive stick back at SDSU that pretty much sealed it or the extra pass he made to Katin followed by the loose ball he came up with and the two free throws he made to ice the game against Boise? Justin is not going to get tons of minutes but when he is on the floor, even with his terrible shooting slump he will come up big time and time again when the critical moments of a game occur. Kid is a winner. How soon we seem to forget that.

  5. It'll be a constant subbing game, no question. Rice was doing it with Birch and Bennett a lot recently. Late game situations on offense Bennett gets the nod when possible and Birch gets put in on defense when time permits. If UNLV needs to score, or sees a mismatch opportunity with a scorer, he'll put in BDJ, when UNLV needs a 3, he'll put in Reinhardt, and when there's no answer for someone on the other team that keeps scoring, he'll put in Hawkins. It's be great to have all 3 combined, but that'd be a POY candidate.

  6. I was confused by the amount of playing time Hawkins got on Tuesday. I do love his defense, and not that it was his fault, but when Boise hits 13-25 from 3 that defense your bringing to the table doesn't mean much. It worked out in the end but I would have rather had a different combination on the floor. Tough to 2nd guess Coach Rice right now because all of the substitution buttons he's hitting right now are working. Winning solves everything.

  7. Looks like the MWC may finally be getting a decent TV deal:

    http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/...

    It would be nice to be able to watch a few more Rebels games on TV (and other MWC teams as well), especially since my cable provider doesn't supply CBS Sports or Time Warner Sports and I only get to see the handful of games shown on NBC Sports Network.

    I think this deal will be great for our conference as it would give us true national exposure, because let's face it, more people are going to watch if you're on ESPN than if your game is on one of these other smaller networks that we are currently televised on.