You know the old saying about walking the walk and talking the talk?
Well, UNLV freshman sensation Anthony Bennett broke out some gold sneakers for Saturday’s nonconference finale against Cal State Bakersfield at the Thomas & Mack Center. And you can say he definitely walked the walk.
Bennett finished with a career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of action, but it was his 21-point first half that had people shaking their heads after the Runnin’ Rebels (13-2) cruised past the Roadrunners, 84-63.
Bennett hit his first eight field goal tries, including a trio of 3-pointers in a two-minute stretch, and showed why NBA scouts are already salivating for his services.
For those who missed the memorable performance, check out the video below which shows all 21 points that Bennett scored.
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Besides showing his long-range shooting, Bennett had a pair of dunks, a nice mid-range pull-up jumper on the baseline and threw in a left-handed jump-hook.
Not bad for a 6-foot-8, 240-pound 19-year-old with the grand total of 15 games of college experience.
“He scores in such a variety of ways and does it often just in the flow of the offense,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said.
“We just looked for ways to keep feeding him and he just kept producing,” guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, who finished with 12 points, six assists and no turnovers, said. “When a guy hits three 3’s in a row and is dunking all over the place, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t (keep feeding Bennett the ball).”
“He’s a special player,” Cal State Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes, a former star player in the SEC and the 2001 Naismith Coach of the Year after leading Ole Miss to the Sweet 16, said. “You got a guy with that size who can shoot the ball from the perimeter – he just basically just took us out of the game right the beginning when he was three-for-three from the three. You can’t guard inside with his size, so if he’s going to beat us, beat us outside. And that’s how he exactly got started.
“He’s a competitor. I really like watching the kid. I think he brings energy and excitement to the game. He’s very poised. He’s a great piece to build around.”
How does he compare to some of the players Barnes faced during his years in the SEC?
“He’s a top 10 (NBA Draft) pick,” Barnes said, who compared him to player he once faced at Auburn, longtime NBA star and current Lakers assistant coach Chuck “The Rifleman” Person. “He’s a special player.”
To hear more what Barnes had to say about Bennett and the Rebels, click on the video below:
UNLV also big games from Dejean-Jones, point guard Anthony Marshall (eight points, seven assists) and forward Quintrell Thomas (10 points, six rebounds in just nine minutes).
The Rebels shot 50.9 percent from the floor and had an impressive 23 assists on their 28 field goals while also outrebounding the Roadrunners 43-30.
Next up is the Mountain Wet Conference opener at New Mexico on Wednesday night.