New Look Rebels Open Season With Huge 108-66 Win Over Florida A&M
There are a lot of new faces on this years talented Runnin’ Rebels squad, and here’s a look at how they did in their first game action of the season.
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Freshman Brandon McCoy leads talented group of newcomers to blowout win in first game of the season for Runnin’ Rebels.
When last years season ended there wasn’t really any reason to think that year number two under Marvin Menzies would be anything but another rebuilding year. Granted, Jordan Johnson was going to become eligible, and the Rebels would finally have true point guard running the offense, but the rest of the returners were known commodities. But, the perception of how season two would go changed drastically when Menzies secured commitments from from blue chip recruits Brandon McCoy, Shakur Juiston and Amari Hardy.
Those commitments, along with the ones already secured by Menzies in Tervell Beck, Anthony Smith, Jay Green, and Cheikh Mbacke Diong, gave everyone around the program hope that the second year wouldn’t be just another step in a rebuild, but a year in which UNLV would be back to competing for a conference title. And Saturday night was the first chance for the newcomers to show to the fans, and everyone else around the program that the hype is justified, and they did not disappoint.
Jordan Johnson, the talented transfer from Milwaukee, lived up to his billing as a pass first point guard who can make the offense flow seamlessly. Jovan Mooring did a great job as the do everything guard for the Rebels last year, but with the offense running through Johnson this season, this year’s Rebels will be a force on the offensive end of the court. For the game, Johnson finished with 10 points, but more importantly, he finished with 10 assists, as he drove the lane to create open shots for his teammates or for easy finishes around the rim as defenders collapsed on him. This directly benefited freshman center Brandon McCoy.
McCoy, the five star center from San Diego, played his first official game as a Runnin’ Rebel, and showed why he was rated so high, finishing the night with a game high 25 points, on 11-19 shooting while also securing 18 total rebounds. Nine of those being offensive. To go along with McCoy’s huge first game, Juco transfer Shakur Juiston showed why he was the top overall Juco recruit on the market last spring.
Juiston came out of the Juco ranks with a reputation as a player that can score for anywhere on the floor, but also with a reputation as a dominant rebounder. Both of those were proven accurate on Saturday night, as the Rebels new forward tallied 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in just 25 minutes worth of work on the floor. Juiston could, and should be, a double double per night player for the Rebels. Back in May when Menzies secured the commitments of McCoy, Juiston and Hardy, it overshadowed the talented but raw players Menzies had already landed, one of those being Tervell Beck.
Beck didn’t come to UNLV with as much fanfare as the other newcomers, but after playing a prep year last season, he’s coming to UNLV with a more developed game and physically stronger than most incoming freshman. And prior to May, many around the program believed that Beck would be an instant contributor, and a player UNLV could build around. He definitely looks like he will be living up to that billing. While Beck only logged 12 minutes on Saturday, he scored 13 points on an efficient 5-7 shooting.
Newcomers Anthony Smith and Amari Hardy also received major minutes on Saturday night, with Smith totalling 6 points and Hardy 8. Smith only connected on three of his 13 shots, but flashed his freakish athleticism that made him such an intriguing prospect coming into this season. Hardy was an efficient 3-6 shooting on the night, and flashed that speed and athleticism that will likely earn him major minutes backing up lead guards, Johnson and Mooring.
Finally, freshman Jay Green and Cheikh Mbacke Diong also received minutes, with Green scoring two points and Diong tallying 3. Both players could be hard pressed to find minutes, in non blowout situations, as UNLV looks to be deep with talented guards and forwards in front of both players.
Here are the highlights from the game on Saturday.
And while you don’t want to read too much into the first game of the season, against an inferior opponent, it was refreshing to see the Rebels come out and take over the game from the first tip and receive huge contributions from their new players. Looks like this could be a fun year for this team.