Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 | 2 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's offensive sorta-breakout in the second half of a 73-48 victory over Texas-Pan Am on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. It was sparked by some tremendous defense and a slew of filthy dunks by freshman DeShawn Mitchell.
- Opponent: Northern Arizona
- Where: Thomas & Mack Center
- When: Thursday, Nov. 20, 7 p.m.
Freshman guard DeShawn Mitchell's first big-time college highlight came with a veteran reminder.
With 12 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in UNLV's 73-48 runaway victory over Texas-Pan American on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, Mitchell, already known as the team's resident high-flyer, threw home an alley-oop lob from Kendall Wallace.
It put the Rebels up 46-30 when gaining some breathing room was key.
It woke up the crowd, and it's a safe bet that just about every Rebels fan in the building wanted to hug Mitchell, who was about to start celebrating with his arms out.
All senior teammate Mareceo Rutledge wanted to do was shove him.
"I got a little excited, a little hyped, I forgot that I had to D-up on the ball and started running back down the court," Mitchell said with a grin. "I know what to do now. I know that I have to get on the ball."
Even with the lesson learned, the night served as a reminder that these next few games will serve as a measuring stick to test coach Lon Kruger's younger reserves.
In fact, Kruger decided he wanted to use more bodies after reviewing the tape of Saturday's 65-60 victory over San Diego at the Mack.
"Coach kind of talked about it after the San Diego game, how he's gonna kind of rotate more guys in, because watching the San Diego game we looked kinda flat," said junior walk-on guard Scott Hoffman, who played five minutes at the end. "DeShawn, Beas (Hamga), they played well."
Senior guard Wink Adams agreed.
“These types of games are very important,” he said. “The bench came out and gave us a boost. DeShawn, Beas and Kendall played great. We want to be a team with a deep bench. They got everybody’s confidence up.”
Kruger implemented fresh legs more often right off the bat, too. After using just nine guys against the Toreros, he used 11 in the first half alone against the Broncs.
Mitchell led the Rebels with 14 points in 14 minutes off the bench. Six of his seven field goals came within a few feet of the hoop. After not playing in Saturday's regular season opener, he was brought off the bench for five minutes in the first half.
At night's end, he had three crowd-wowing dunks to his credit, along with four rebounds.
And a dose of reality.
"I need to work on my ball-handling still, my defense, my shooting," he said.
Added Hoffman: "After that oop that he had from Kendall, I think that kinda put our foot on their necks, if you will. Everyone wants to see a dunk, and he's pretty electric. That last dunk he had, that was pretty cool. He's good for the team for that, and his defense is really good, too."
Also seeing his first official collegiate action was redshirt freshman center Beas Hamga, who played 12 minutes. It was enough time to record his first basket as a Rebel and nearly his first blocked shot, had it not been for a goaltending call.
His first field goal was a jumper from the elbow. While he looked a bit unsure a couple of times with the ball and his back to the basket, he also showed flashes of his enormous potential.
As for Hoffman, from the second he got into the game, freshman point guard Oscar Bellfield was making sure to get him the ball so he could fire off a couple of long shots. Hoffman passed on a few and didn't get the two he attempted to drop.
It wasn't anything away from the norm for the Rebels, who have had a tough time with the 3-point shot so far. Between their two regular season games and lone exhibition contest, they're 19-of-79 from deep.
"We'll start hitting more threes," Hoffman said. "Teams are gonna start to zone us now, watching these last two games, they're gonna switch it up with zone and man. Joe (Darger's) gonna hit more, Wink (Adams) especially. They're due to hit."