unlv basketball:

Live blog: Career night from Justin Hawkins, strong second half carry Rebels to opening night win in Rice’s debut

Mike Moser equally solid in his UNLV debut, Oscar Bellfield steady as usual in 83-66 win

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Sam Morris

UNLV forward Mike Moser gets five from guard Oscar Bellfield after scoring against Grand Canyon during the Rebels season opener Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack.

Updated Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 | 8:37 p.m.

UNLV vs. Grand Canyon

UNLV guard Justin Hawkins and Grand Canyon guard Justin Foreman chase a loose ball during their game Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack. The Rebels won their opener 83-66. Launch slideshow »

The UNLV basketball team played only the seven scholarship players they had available Friday for their season opener against Division II Grand Canyon at the Thomas & Mack Center.

That was all they would need.

Each of them contributed to the win in a balanced 83-66 victory, giving first-year coach Dave Rice a win in his Rebels’ head coaching debut.

Justin Hawkins made the most of his extended playing time, scoring a career-high 25 points in 35 minutes in relief of the suspended Chace Stanback. Hawkins made 9-of-15 shots, including 3-of-5 on 3-pointers to record a game-high in scoring.

However, the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

The Rebels squandered an 11-point halftime lead and only led 39-38 at halftime. But they opened the second half on a 22-11 run over the initial eight minutes of the half and led by double-digits the rest of the game.

Forward Mike Moser, a transfer from UCLA making his UNLV debut, nearly had a school record for rebounds in grabbing a game-high 19 rebounds to go along with 16 points. The single-game record for rebounds is 26.

Senior Oscar Bellfield was steady as usual in the backcourt, leading UNLV with six assists and scoring 12 points in 35 minutes. Kendall Wallace, playing in his first game after missing last year with a severe ACL injury, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half. He is the outside shooting threat the Rebels missed last year.

For a first time out, I’m guessing Rice will be pleasantly surprised. Sure, it was just a Division II opponent, but the second half domination speaks volumes. That’s why they conditioned so hard in the offseason.

Check back later for more on this game. I’ll have comments from Rice, Hawkins, Moser and the Rebels other stars.

Rebels starting to pull away against Grand Canyon, leading by double-digits with 12 to play

The UNLV basketball team has opened the second half on a 22-11 run to take a 61-49 lead with about 12 minutes to play.

Justin Hawkins has made the most of his playing time, scoring a game-high 15 points in 27 minutes of action. He’s only in the starting lineup because Chace Stanback is serving a suspension, but has definitely earned more minutes moving forward.

Hawkins is 3-of-4 on 3-pointers, playing solid man defense and confident on both ends of the court. He’s definitely doesn’t feel out of place, and could be a force off the bench the rest of the season.

The Rebels are showing signs of pulling away. Don’t be surprised if a one-point halftime lead turns into a 20-point victory.

Rebels open second half hot, use 3-pointer from Justin Hawkins to take nine point lead

A one-point halftime lead has turned into a 53-44 advantage for the UNLV basketball team with 15 minutes to play in their season opener against Grand Canyon.

Quintrell Thomas and Mike Moser both converted 3-point plays in the outburst, and Justin Hawkins extended the lead on the fast break with a 3-pointer from the corner.

Grand Canyon’s coaches have been encouraging their players to push the pass in a clear attempt to take advantage of a UNLV lineup with just seven scholarship players. It hasn’t work with the Rebels more than happy to push the pace.

At times, the game appears a little chaotic, but UNLV is in position to extend its lead back to double digits. Considering they are without two regulars, the second half effort speaks volumes.

Rebels only ahead by one at halftime of season opener against D-II Grand Canyon

UNLV led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but Grand Canyon isn’t ready to wave the white flag and cut its deficit to 39-38 at halftime of the season opener at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Grand Canyon’s comeback can be credited to two things: the shorthanded Rebels are simply gassed, and the Division II Antelopes can’t miss. Grand Canyon is 13-of-27 from the field, including 5-of-10 on 3-pointers.

With just seven scholarship players available, UNLV has essentially played it starting five of Oscar Bellfield, Kendall Wallace, Justin Hawkins, Mike Moser and Brice Massamba the entire first half. Quintrell Thomas and Karam Mashour, the other two players are scholarship, have for one point in 11 minutes.

Grand Canyon rallied to take a 38-37 lead in the final minute of the half, but Mike Moser drained a jumper at the halftime buzzer to give the Rebels the lead at the break.

Moser nearly has a double-double with a team-high nine points and 10 rebounds, Massamba and Hawkins each have eight points. Bellfield, the senior leader, has five assists and seven points.

Folks, this should be an interesting second half. Rice’s preseason practices typically included more than its share of conditioning, which will be key down the stretch tonight.

Two big 3-pointers from Kendall Wallace give Rebels 17-10 lead in opener

It’s probably safe to assume Kendall Wallace’s surgically repaired knee is feeling a lot better.

The senior sharp-shooter, who missed all of last year after brutally tearing his ACL, has connected on consecutive 3-pointers to give UNLV a 17-10 against Division-II Grand Canyon with 11:54 to play in the first half at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Wallace, who is typically the Rebels’ 3-point specialist, is making the most of his starting opportunity, filling in for the suspended Anthony Marshall.

His ability to stretch the defense was sorely missed last year as the Rebels often struggled from the outside. He deserves a lot of credit for working himself back into shape and into a key contributor role.

Rebels hold 7-6 lead at first media timeout in opener against D-II Grand Canyon

If we’ve learned anything in the first four minutes of the UNLV basketball season it’s that first-year coach Dave Rice’s up-tempo offense is definitely fast-paced.

The Rebels and Division II Grand Canyon have raced up and down the court early, with UNLV holding a 7-6 lead at the first media timeout. UNLV has only connected on 3-of-9 field goals, but one of those was a Justin Hawkins 3-pointer.

Mike Moser has the most exciting play early, coming up with a steal on defense and racing the length of the court for an uncontested dunk.

In addition to UNLV’s early shooting difficulties, senior center Brice Massamba has missed all three of his free throw attempts. That, however, is no surprise considering he is arguably the worst free throw shooter in the Mountain West Conference.

Expect UNLV to eventually pull away, but with just seven scholarship players available, it won’t be a leisurely victory by any means.

Pregame

When Dave Rice was hired as the UNLV basketball coach in April, the former Rebel forward gave a heartfelt speech at his introductory news conference about his respect for the program and its winning traditions.

Rice was a reserve during UNLV’s 1990 national championship season and for the Rebels’ 1991 trip to the Final Four, seeing first-hand the passion Las Vegas residents have for the program. In a town of big-time shows a few miles from campus on the Las Vegas Strip, the UNLV basketball team was the most sought-after ticket in town.

Now it is Rice’s turn to add to the legacy and continue bringing the program back to the top of college basketball.

Rice’s debut is less than an hour away, with UNLV opening the season against Division-II Grand Canyon.

While Rice might never equal the feats of his mentor and legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, he could best his college coach with a victory tonight. Tarkanian, you see, in his initial 1973-74 season with UNLV, lost his first game.

Winning might be easier said than done.

The Rebels will only have seven scholarship players for tonight’s game, starting Oscar Bellfield and Kendall Wallace at guard, Mike Moser and Justin Hawkins at forward, and Brice Massamba at center. Guard Anthony Marshall and forward Chase Stanback are each serving suspensions that will end tonight, and Wallace could be limited in his first game back after missing last year with a major knee injury.

And Grand Canyon is better than most people think. The Antelopes only lost 82-75 Nov. 2 at Oregon.

Check back all night or follow me on Twitter @raybrewer21 for updates from the Thomas & Mack Center. Like most of the fans, I’m excited to see the new look Rebels in Rice’s run-and-gun offense.

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

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  1. best player i have seen in the last ten years. MOSER

  2. What's the scoop on lopez's ankle.... Time frame??

  3. Rebs looked great in the second half. One can only imagine how good they will be at full strength.

    Something to smile about, the Loyola Marymount team the Rebels beat by nine in their scrimmage game, knocked off No. 20 UCLA today.

    Also, UNR will come to town angry, as they lost by 22 at home to Missouri State. Yikes!

    Moser had 20 rebounds, not 19 by the way.

  4. Am I reading this right? Hawkins putting up some crazy numbers?! Breakout season Hawkins!

    Some more good news: BYU got beat by Utah St, and UCLA got handled by Loyola Marymount. Yes, the LMU that UNLV scrimmaged, as Mick pointed out. Rough start altogether for college hoops, but I love it! ANyone can win at the end of the day! Rebels did their work!