Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | 12:59 p.m.
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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.
- Marshall leads UNLV to the finish line in resilient victory against Boise State
- Instant Analysis: Rebels continue late-season charge by rallying past Boise State for hard-fought win
- Box Score: UNLV 68, Boise State 64
- Boise State comes to UNLV looking for one more statement victory
- UNLV Extras: Rebels control their destiny for the 2 seed in league tournament
- Moser opens March with a return to form in UNLV’s romp at UNR
- Rebels in good tournament seeding position with chances left to improve
- How does Rebels’ Bennett stack up against nation’s elite freshmen?
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
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.