Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
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Last October at UNLV's FirstLook event at the Thomas & Mack Center, Mike Moser, just a couple of months after transferring in from UCLA, created a buzz by leading all scorers with 15 points in the Rebels' season-opening scrimmage.
"It was fun to get out here, knowing this was going to be my only chance to get a good sweat in front of a crowd (this year)," he said after his first public introduction to the UNLV fans.
Fast-forward a year, and Moser again stole the show as the Rebels tipped off a new season. He scored a game-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds Sunday night, as he led the Black squad to a 46-39 victory over the White team at the Mack.
This time, though, a strong performance didn't come with such a bittersweet aftertaste.
"I think last year was kind of like a little teaser, showing a little of what I can do," he said. "(This year) I just tried to come out, have fun with the guys, share the ball, show that we can mesh together.
"We're really good as a team. There's no one great individual. I think that's going to help us a lot this year."
Sunday night's 20-minute scrimmage, which was broken into four, five-minute quarters, capped "Runnin' Rebel Weekend," and it gave the public its first glimpse of the uptempo style UNLV plans on playing under first-year coach Dave Rice and his staff. In past years, the annual scrimmage has looked very similar to Sunday's, but expect that pace to become the norm for the Rebels moving forward.
For Moser, who hasn't played in an official game since the end of his freshman season at UCLA in the spring of 2010, Sunday was a reminder of how far he and his teammates still have to go physically before they're ready for the Nov. 1 exhibition game against Washburn.
"We were only doing about a six-man rotation for each team, and running like that, you start feeling a little fatigue after the first two minutes are gone," he said. "After the first two minutes of up and down, I was a little gassed already. But once I hit that second wind, it felt really good."
The Rebels began to look a bit more rundown on the defensive end by the time the third quarter rolled around, but on offense, throughout the night, several signs were present that Rice's first season should be an exciting one.
— Moser was able to score in a variety of ways within the framework of the offense, not having to force anything on offense. He was 6-of-9 from the floor, including a 2-of-4 showing from deep.
— Marquette transfer Reggie Smith, who won't be eligible until UNLV's Dec. 17 contest at Illinois, looked like a natural fit at point guard. The 6-foot sophomore had 10 points and two assists, showing off a lightning-quick first step that helped him get to the basket with ease. He earned the night's biggest roars from the crowd in warm-ups by showing off his vertical leap of more than 40 inches with several impressive throw-downs. But maybe his most important contributions were a pair of 3-pointers in the scrimmage's first half. Consistency on his outside jump shot will be key for Smith throughout the year.
— Junior Anthony Marshall looked comfortable running the point, as how smooth his transition to the offense's lead role goes will be key in determining how successful the Rebels are, especially early on. He did a little bit of everything, scoring nine points to go with four assists and four steals.
— Consider USC transfer Bryce Jones' s 11-point performance this year's version of Moser's debut, as fans were impressed with what the 6-foot-5 sophomore could do everywhere on the floor, but they'll have to wait another year to see him live.
The weekend was a prime opportunity for fans to come out and celebrate the start of one of the most highly anticipated seasons in recent program history with the players and coaches, but now it's down to business for the Rebels, who settle into their regular practice schedule for the season beginning Monday afternoon.
Rice didn't mind seeing his guys get winded not long after the lights came on, giving them a chance to look at themselves and see what more needs to be accomplished in the coming weeks.
"They got a little tired today, and we pushed ourselves, but that's part of the deal," he said. "Coach Tark used to always talk about it: If you stop every time you get a little tired, you'll never get in better shape, so we play a system where you have to play yourself into shape. We'll be in a lot better shape next week and the week after that."
More scrimmage stats: Black Team: Oscar Bellfield 2 points, 3 assists; Kendall Wallace 7 points, 2 rebounds; Brice Massamba 5 points, 3 rebounds; Karam Mashour 7 points, 2 rebounds. White Team: Quintrell Thomas 4 points, 3 rebounds; Carlos Lopez 8 points, 3 rebounds; Chace Stanback 4 points, 4 rebounds; Justin Hawkins 4 points, 2 assists, 2 steals.