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Three things we know—and three we still don’t—about this year’s Runnin’ Rebels

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Anthony Marshall and the Rebels fell, 83-79, to Oregon on Friday.
Photo: Sam Morris

Coming off a Global Sports Classic tournament that saw (now-24th ranked) UNLV lose to Oregon and defeat Iowa State, we feel confident that …

Mike Moser can still rebound. One of the biggest questions entering the season was whether the junior—10th in the nation in rebounding last season—could keep up that production from a more permanent role on the perimeter. So far, yes. Last year he averaged 10.5 rebounds per game; this year he’s at 10.3. It’s crucial that he continue to crash the boards.

Anthony Bennett is great, when he goes inside-out. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound freshman can extend out to the 3-point line, which makes him lethal, but he’s clearly at his best when he establishes himself inside first. The biggest issue for Bennett going forward? His health. He missed practice this week with lower-back stiffness, which also cost him time in each of the past two years at Findlay Prep.

It’s going to take some time. Anyone who thought coach Dave Rice could roll the ball out and pile up wins faced a rude awakening with the Oregon loss. The Rebels are talented, no doubt, but with so many new pieces in the rotation it’s clear they’ll need time to learn how to play together.

But we’re still not sure …

Whether Rice will trust someone to back up Anthony Marshall. Marshall’s move to full-time point guard has drawn mixed, though mostly positive, reviews thus far. He’s scoring efficiently and taking care of the ball. He’s also playing far too much, a problem that might have more to do with the progress of freshman Katin Reinhardt. Rice needs to get comfortable with other guys running the offense or Marshall could be worn down by March.

When UNLV will fix its issues handling pressure. When Oregon busted out its full-court press and zone defense, UNLV acted like it had never seen either. Opponents who see that on tape will surely test the Rebels’ progress in handling both, so that must be a focus in practice for the next couple of weeks, at least.

If the Rebels can make in-game adjustments. After UNLV jacked up 30 3-pointers against Oregon, it attempted just 10 the next day against Iowa State. What the Rebels couldn’t do: fix the problem in time to defeat the Ducks. It’s not yet clear if the players and coaches are capable of sizing up problems and getting them solved during a game.

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Taylor, who covers UNLV sports, is a 2010 graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University ...

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