Anthony Marshall

Youth shows in No. 18 UNLV’s loss to Oregon

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UNLV might have a stellar 2012 recruiting class in Las Vegas this season, but to win the Mountain West, it’s going to need to overcome its biggest stumbling block: youth.

That same young talent that fueled high expectations in the preseason was one of the contributing factors in the Rebels’ 83-79 loss to Oregon Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Nevada.

It’s often a mixed bag when a team has a lineup loaded with youth, as we saw with true freshman Katin Reinhardt Friday. A very skilled, athletic guard, Reinhardt finished with 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three-point range.

Reinhardt began the game 1-of-8 from long distance, taking almost every shot he could from there, but ended up hitting three big threes down the stretch that kept the Rebels in the game in the final minutes. Typical.

Sophomore transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones plays a similar style to Reinhardt and never found his groove Friday, going 3-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-8 from three-point range. Both started against Oregon, making the Rebels’ three-guard set full of two players who take a lot of shots, plus Anthony Marshall, who is settling into being a true point guard this season.

But there is always the other side of the coin, including freshman Anthony Bennett, who tallied his first career double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Oregon. He was the brightest spot for the Rebels.

So what does Dave Rice need from his freshman? Cohesiveness, better shot selection, and maturity, all of which can come with time. UNLV will add Khem Birch during the second semester, another young player but one who adds depth to that front court.

UNLV takes on Iowa State Saturday night.

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

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.