After dropping five games away from home at the end of last season—including an NCAA tournament loss in Albuquerque—the Rebels have found a little magic away from home this year, coming up with victories at Portland, Cal and UTEP.
Of course, those wins, by a total of 11 points, also showed that the Rebels have some work to do before they’re ready to beat the likes of San Diego State on the road. At El Paso, the Rebels opened up a 15-point lead in the second half before an altercation between Anthony Bennett and the Miners’ Julian Washburn—and a technical foul on Bryce Dejean-Jones for bumping Washburn during the incident—shifted the momentum. UNLV never gave up the lead, but the game got too close for comfort. As conference play approaches, the Rebels will need to learn how to put teams away.
Dejean-Jones led the Rebels in scoring at UTEP with 12 points, while three others—Anthony Marshall, Katin Reinhardt and Anthony Bennett—scored in double figures. It was Bennett’s toughest night in a Rebel uniform as the Miners swarmed him. He can expect more of that in upcoming games, but if we’ve learned anything about the outstanding freshman, it’s that he has the talent to adjust. And the toughness: Bennett and his teammates have now made it through three tight road victories, crucial seasoning for a young squad heading into shark-infested waters.
Robert Smith—who starred for the Rebels from 1974-77—is the color analyst for UNLV basketball broadcasts on ESPN Radio 1100.
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