Three takeaways from UNLV’s 72-51 win over UC Riverside on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center:
1. Killer ‘Bs’ swarm off bench
The Rebels weren’t able to generate a whole lot of offense in a brutal season-opening loss to Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
Coach Marvin Menzies found it on his bench Tuesday.
Freshman Bryce Hamilton and sophomore Tervell Beck combined to shoot 9-for-9 and score 27 points as UNLV evened its record at 1-1.
It was a breakout performance for Hamilton in particular after he was held scoreless on three shots and played six minutes in his collegiate debut on Friday.
He finished with a game-high 16 points Tuesday as he made all five shots, including three 3-pointers in 23 minutes.
“(Playing more) helped me settle in and get more comfortable, but whatever Coach needs me to do,” Hamilton said. “It just felt good. My teammates kept encouraging me because my first game (didn’t go very well). It was a great win. I was just glad I could help the team out.”
The Pasadena, California, native had eight points to key a 12-0 run in the second half to help the Rebels pull away. Menzies said Hamilton earned his minutes.
“Our plan is to always win the game and whatever players we feel can contribute to the victory will be the guys that play,” Menzies said. “Obviously, (Hamilton) was playing well so he had a chance to get some more minutes, but it wasn’t really the hot hand. I thought he did a pretty good job defensively. He’s still got to get better, but he was pretty active and caused a couple turnovers. So he did well there and then obviously making some shots helps, too.”
Beck, the only other Rebel in double figures, made both of his 3-point attempts and finished 4-for-4 shooting with 11 points. He had seven points in the first 7:30 to help spark the offense.
2. Seniors help limit mistakes
Turnovers were a massive reason the Rebels dropped the season-opener to Loyola Marymount on Friday as they coughed up the ball 24 times.
The seniors were the biggest culprits.
Noah Robotham, Shakur Juiston and Kris Clyburn combined for 16 turnovers with Robotham the worst offender with six in his UNLV debut.
The Rebels committed 13 turnovers on Tuesday with that trio responsible for just six.
Menzies isn’t satisfied.
“Our overall goal for every game is to stay under 10 or 11, so the short answer is, ‘No,’ ” Menzies said when asked if he was pleased. “I was content with the significant improvement, so it’s going in the right direction. But we still have to get better at it.”
The seniors did set a better overall tone for their younger teammates on Tuesday.
“All three seniors played bad in the first game and I thought all three played decent tonight,” Menzies said. “Maybe they kind of led the way with the comfort level for us.”
3. Juiston needs to take next step
After a spectacular junior campaign, Juiston was expected to take on a much bigger role this season.
It just hasn’t clicked for him yet.
Juiston went 2-for-7 from the field and finished with six points and six rebounds in 28 minutes after a 12-point, seven-rebound effort on Friday.
He’s shooting 39 percent through two games after making 64 percent of his shots and averaging 14.6 points last season. It was expected he would be more assertive in the offense after frontcourt mate Brandon McCoy and his 17 points per game left UNLV to turn pro after just one season.
Juiston has always shied away from a lead role but is more than capable of being that type of presence.