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

Nov 24, 2012, 9:46 AM EDT

Anthony Marshall AP

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_