Dave Rice, Anthony Marshall

Dave Rice approved for 5-year contract extension with UNLV

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Coming off of a run to the NCAA tournament last season, there seems there could be something special happening in Las Vegas, something that hasn’t been seen in the Nevada desert since the early 1990s.

Head coach Dave Rice has assembled a strong group of talent at UNLV and has been rewarded with a five-year contract extension that was approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents this week, the school announced.

“We are very happy with these contract approvals,” UNLV Athletics Director Jim Livengood said in a release. “I would like to thank the Board of Regents and (UNLV President) Neal Smatresk for their continued support of UNLV Athletics and these three fine coaches who are wonderful representatives for UNLV and our student-athletes.”

Rice is now signed through the 2016-17 season.

In his first season with the Runnin’ Rebels, Rice led the team to a 26-9 overall record.

With forward Mike Moser back, Rice has surrounded him with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

Canadian forward Anthony Bennett leads the group, along with guards Katin Reinhardt and DaQuan Cook and forwards Demetris Morant and Savon Goodman.

Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch is eligible for the second semester, and Rice also brought in USC transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones and Connecticut transfer Roscoe Smith.

Along with San Diego State, the Rice and the Rebels should challenge for the Mountain West title and, on paper, have the raw talent to make a run in March.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.