The much-anticipated debut of McDonald’s All-American Brandon McCoy was put on hold for another week because of a sore ankle but newcomers were still the story of the night for UNLV during Friday night’s 97-73 exhibition victory over Alaska Fairbanks at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Forward Shakur Juiston (24), point guard Jordan Johnson (15) and guard Amauri Hardy (10) joined returnee Jovan Mooring (16) in double figures as the Rebels used a 24-4 run, including a 16-0 spurt, to pull away in the second half.
The Division II Nanooks, coming off a 13-16 season and picked to finish seventh in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason poll, were tied with Rebels, 46-46, after forward Amenofis Mitchell’s jumper with 16:12 remaining.
But UNLV then took control with back-to-back three-point plays by Mooring and Juiston. Junior college transfer Anthony Smith and Mooring followed that up with 3-pointers to spark the 16-0 run.
UNLV, which connected on 5-of-7 3-pointers in the second half, shot 61.7 percent from the floor for the game, including 68.8 percent in the second half. The Rebels took advantage of their size advantage in the paint – Alaska Fairbank’s didn’t have a player listed taller than 6-foot-7 – and finished with a 50-30 edge in points in the paint.
WHO STOOD OUT: Juiston, a 6-foot-7 forward who was the National Junior College Player of the Year at Hutchison (Kan.) Community College, finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting and also grabbed seven rebounds. Johnson, a transfer from Milwaukee, finished with 15 points, including 2-of-3 3-pointers, while Mooring added 16 points and a team-high five turnovers.
QUOTES TO NOTE:
“I was kind of glad the game unfolded the way it did. We got some good footage and some good lessons in that first half. … They did a good job of paying attention to details that we gave them at halftime. That came out executed a lot better. Like all teams I think at the beginning of the year you’re motivated by the offense. I think we’ve got to make sure this team is motivated by the defense.” – UNLV coach Marvin Menzies
“Tonight was a pretty cool experience for us. UNLV is a really athletic and long team. We kind of ran out of gas in the last 15 minutes and we couldn’t make it to the free throw line.” – Alaska Fairbanks coach Mick Durham
UP NEXT: The games start counting for real when the Runnin’ Rebels host Florida A&M next Saturday (Nov. 11) at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.
NOTABLE: Menzies said the 7-foot McCoy, the preseason Mountain West Freshman of the Year, lobbied to play Friday but the decision was made to sit him out to make sure he didn’t risk “tweaking” the ankle again prior to next week’s season opener. … Cheikh Mbacke Diong, a 6-11 freshman forward, finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes off the bench for the Rebels but also missed a pair of dunks. … UNLV attempted 28 free throws to just two for the Nanooks. The Rebels sank just 16 of those tries (57.1 percent). …The Rebels finished with a 14-2 edge in fast break points. … Mitchell led the Nanooks with 13 points.
Click on graphic below for final stats