It was apparent at the end of last season that Anthony Marshall would be a major factor in UNLV’s future. At the beginning of this season, Justin Hawkins appears ready to make a similar statement.
The sophomore guards showed the way in the basketball team’s unofficial opener Tuesday night.
Marshall scored 15 points and Hawkins had 13 as the Rebels rolled to a 90-66 exhibition victory over Grand Canyon at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I thought Justin and Anthony both played well,” coach Lon Kruger said. “It’s great to see that good play out of those two.
“Justin does everything that you’re looking for. He’s very disruptive defensively, he’s a willing passer and he knocks down shots. He’ll be a key guy for us.”
UNLV started the game without two key players, but the absence of senior guard Tre’Von Willis was determined in late September. Willis served the first part of a three-game suspension for offseason legal problems.
Kruger said he benched junior forward Chace Stanback for the first half Tuesday for academic shortcomings. The reason for the move was not announced until after the game.
“He’s a good student. It’s just a matter of not doing what he needed to do,” said Kruger, who will also sit Stanback for the first half of next week’s exhibition against Washburn (Kan.).
Kruger used 11 players in the first half. Stanback, a projected starter, finally checked in with 17:31 remaining.
“I didn’t take care of my responsibilities in the summer and I accept the consequences,” said Stanback, who had four points. “The only person I can be mad at is myself.”
Kruger said he witnessed “a lot of good things” from several players. Marshall shot 6-for-7 from the field and hit his only 3-point attempt. Hawkins made a lot happen in a team-high 28 minutes off the bench.
“When my number is called to go in there, I’ve just got to play my part to help the team,” said Hawkins, who averaged 3.3 points per game as a freshman reserve.
“He’s really gritty on defense and really clever on offense. Justin knows his role well,” senior guard Derrick Jasper said.
Jasper scored 12 points, freshman forward Carlos Lopez had 11 and junior guard Oscar Bellfield finished with 10 for the Rebels.
Bellfield’s 3-pointer put UNLV up 27-10. A dunk by Lopez extended the lead to 40-15 with 5:38 remaining before halftime.
The Rebels shot 19-for-23 from the field en route to a 50-25 halftime lead over the Antelopes, a Division II team from Phoenix.
UNLV put on a shooting exhibition, mostly from close range, by sinking 32 of 44 (72.7 percent) for the game, including 5 of 6 3-pointers.
“We didn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers, but we made the 3s that we shot,” said Jasper, who opened the game with a driving three-point play. “We’ve got some capable shooters.”
The Rebels’ interior presence was stronger with the 6-foot-11-inch Lopez, 6-10 center Brice Massamba and 6-8 forward Quintrell Thomas all playing effectively.
Thomas, a sophomore transfer from Kansas, started and finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
“I haven’t played a game in a year and a half,” Thomas said, “so I felt nervous coming out.”
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.UNLV — 90
GRAND CANYON — 66
KEY: Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins combined for 28 points.
NEXT: UNLV vs. Washburn (Kan.), 7 p.m. Tuesday, Thomas & Mack Center