Wyoming v UNLV

Is UNLV’s win the result of phasing out Mike Moser?

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UNLV isn’t ready to throw in the towel on their Mountain West title dreams just yet.

After losing back-to-back road games to Boise State and Fresno State, the Runnin’ Rebels knocked off No. 15 New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night, 64-55.

That final score doesn’t actually do UNLV’s dominance justice. Dave Rice’s team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They were up 37-23 at the break and the Lobos never mounted a serious threat in the final 20 minutes.

It was precisely the kind of performance that UNLV needed, and it came at a time where Rice did something a little different with his rotation. Mike Moser, the best player on the team a season ago, played all of three minutes. Senior leader Justin Hawkins played just six minutes. It was the fewest minutes that either had played all season long. Hawkins had been in double figures in every game this season. If you take away the five minutes Moser played against Cal before he dislocated his elbow and the nine minutes he played against Air Force before being ejected for a Flagrant 2, the same can be said for him.

“All of my substitutions are situational,” Rice said in his press conference after the game. “On the bench, at halftime and after the game, Mike Moser and Justin Hawkins were as positive as can be, and that’s why we have a chance for success.”

“There’s no doubt that Mike Moser’s been frustrated. I was looking at his numbers the last couple of days and he was averaging close to a double-double before he had the elbow injury.”

But those numbers were put up before Khem Birch became eligible. With Birch back and Anthony Bennett playing like a first-team all-american, there’s no space for Mike Moser in the front court. Could it be that the situational subs that Rice is making involve cutting down how deep his rotation goes?

Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not this performance was more the result of the heavier reliance upon the starting five for minutes or if this was simply a case of a team playing a rival at home in a must-win game. UNLV is notorious for being a different team when they’re playing at the Thomas & Mack Center, and that could very well have played a huge role in Saturday night’s win.

But the speculation all season long has been that the Rebels are actually a better team without their preseason all-american, and this game seems to confirm that line of thinking.

UNLV’s next game is at Air Force on Wednesday. It will be quite interesting to see how Dave Rice’s rotation works itself out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.