The UNLV Runnin' Rebels finally get their 2012-13 schedule off the ground, as they host the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks as part of the Global Sports Classic at the Thomas and Mack Center on Monday night.
Considered a favorite to contend for the Mountain West Conference title this season, the Rebels are led by head coach Dave Rose who is in his second year with the program. Ranked in the preseason for the first time in two decades, the Rebels put up a record of 26-9 overall in 2011-12 and were 9-5 in league play which left them in third place. The squad made it to the NCAA Tournament, but was sent packing by Colorado in the second round.
As for the Lumberjacks, their campaign kicked off on Saturday with a meeting against Oregon as part of this tourney and that clash proved to be unfavorable for NAU in an 83-73 setback. With the loss it means Northern Arizona has dropped 17 games in a row dating back to last December. The last victory for the Lumberjacks was a 73-64 final versus Sacramento State on Dec. 29, 2011.
The Rebels own a 17-9 advantage in the all-time series with NAU, the most recent victory coming in this same building four years ago by a score of 87-71. UNLV has taken three in a row from the 'Jacks, and 10 of the last 11 overall.
Both of these teams are set to clash with Jacksonville State over the next couple of weeks as the Rebels get the matchup this Saturday and NAU faces the squad in third-round action on Friday, Nov. 23.
The top scorer for the Lumberjacks against Oregon over the weekend was DeWayne Russell who came off the bench and played just 19 minutes, yet that was still the right situation for him to produce 15 points, thanks in part to 3-of-5 shooting behind the three-point line. Another top reserve for the visitors was Max Jacobsen who dropped 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in the losing effort. Michael Dunn was the lone starter in double figures with his 13 points, but he ended up shooting just 4-of-13 from the floor and only one of those conversions came from inside the three-point line. The key to the meeting came in the first half when Northern Arizona was outscored at the free-throw line, 14-3, because the visitors were able to match Oregon in the scoring column in the second half.
The Runnin' Rebels have only two returning starters from last season, but one of them is considered not only one of the top performers in the Mountain West, he is also recognized as one of the top players in the nation and that player is Mike Moser. A unanimous selection to the All-MWC First Team a year ago, Moser was also honorable mention AP All-America as well after he averaged a double-double with 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest. An active player in all areas of the game, Moser also handed out 80 assists, logged 68 steals and blocked 35 shots. Anthony Marshall is another all-conference performer who is a critical piece of the puzzle for the Rebels after posting 12.2 ppg and placing second on the team in both assists (154) and rebounding (5.1 rpg). A starter in just three games a year ago, Justin Hawkins (7.9 ppg) has shown that he can be a spark on offense and is also a top-notch defender.