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.

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.