UNLV losing to Division II Dixie State is bad news, but the hamstring injury to Bryce Dejean-Jones is even worse news for the Runnin’ Rebels as the junior guard and returning leading scorer left during the first half of the loss with an apparent injury to his right hamstring.
Dixie State pulled off the 71-70 upset over UNLV at the Thomas and Mack Center as they held they Rebels to 34.8 percent shooting but the injury to Dejean-Jones could be serious, according to head coach Dave Rice.
According to Taylor Bern of the Las Vegas Sun, Dejean-Jones walked off the court in the middle of a play clutching his right hamstring. The 6-foot-5 junior then went to the locker room and watched the second half from the bench.
“I think it’s a pretty significant injury,” Rice said after the game. “He said he felt or heard a pop.”
Losing Dejean-Jones would be a major blow for the Runnin’ Rebels as they clearly struggled shooting last night and could use his experience and offense with so many new players.
Also of note is the struggles of 6-foot-7 junior wing Jelan Kendrick. The former McDonald’s All-American and transfer shot 2-of-14 and was 1-for-6 behind the three-point line.
The loss to Dixie State shouldn’t mean too much for UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels escaped with a one-point overtime win over the Division II program last season and went on to the NCAA Tournament, so there’s plenty of time to right the ship after a loss that doesn’t even count.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.