UNLV excites in opening win 

Runnin’ Rebels live up to expectations in front of record shattering crowd at home

After an ugly overtime win against Dixie State College in their exhibition game, the Runnin’ Rebels ran up and down the court on Northern Arizona University in front of 18,187 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.

It was the highest turnout UNLV has ever had on opening day in school history. [flickr id=”8187428017″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”large” group=”” align=”right”]

The Runnin’ Rebels gave the crowd what it wanted by making quick work of the Lumberjacks. Though the opponent was NAU, it felt more like San Diego State University was in the building by the raucous noise from the Rebel faithful.

Bryce Dejean-Jones and Katin Reinhardt both impressed in their season debuts as they both finished with double-digit points. Despite all the young guys making headlines for the Runnin’ Rebels, senior guard Anthony Marshall had himself a solid night by quietly finishing 6-for-6 from the floor.

Freshman sensation Anthony Bennett scored nine of UNLV’s first 13 points and was a dominant force inside the paint all night long.

The frontcourt defensive pairing of Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett was about as stingy as the Chicago Bears defense. And just as exciting to watch.

UNLV held Northern Arizona to just two points in the paint in the first half while forcing the Lumberjacks to 25 percent shooting from the field. The Runnin’ Rebels also outrebounded NAU 51-29 which was the catalyst to the famous “Runnin’ Rebel” transition game.

UNLV finished with 21 fast break points in the win. NAU had zero.

That’s right. I had as many fast break points as the Lumberjacks.

Even with a 30-point lead, the Runnin’ Rebels kept full court pressing and took it to the rim every time. You almost had to feel bad for the heavily outmatched Lumberjacks.

Five Rebels scored in double-figures on Monday night and none of them were named Mike Moser. The junior forward only had two points in the game but finished with 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.

UNLV finished with the 42-8 advantage in points in the paint, had 15 more second-chance points and got 21 more points off the bench than NAU. [flickr id=”8187427807″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”large” group=”” align=”left”]

It was essentially the Texans against the Jaguars.

The Runnin’ Rebels look tough. Expectations are high for them this season, as well they should be.

The victory wasn’t over the most admirable of opponents, but UNLV looked like a team ready to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Until then, just sit back (or jump around in your seat) and enjoy what should be the greatest Runnin’ Rebels team to grace the hardwood floor in 20 years.

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