The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels came into the 2012-13 season with the best recruiting class they’ve had literally in decades, and so far, so good.
Standing at 7-1 with their only loss of the season coming at the hands of Oregon, UNLV has looked like a strong contender to win the Mountain West Conference. Behind fantastic play from top-1o recruit Anthony Bennett, who along with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart has been the most dominant freshman in the country this season, the Rebels have notched impressive wins over Iowa State and California, and are top-20 in the nation in both rebounds and assists per game.
Despite Bennett looking like a bonafide superstar, and a potential future lottery pick, Dave Rice’s bunch is getting it done playing as a cohesive unit. Unfortunately, that unit took a major blow this weekend, losing junior Mike Moser for at least a month, maybe even the season, with a dislocated right elbow. Moser, who was selected First Team All Mountain West as a sophomore, had been bothered by a hip flexor sprain as of late, but was still averaging 10.9 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game on the season.
Without Moser, the number-21 Rebels will need their talented freshmen to step up in hopes that he’ll be able to rejoin the team during conference play. Fortunately for Rice, Bennett’s already taken the responsibility of making up for Moser’s absence, going for career-highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds in a 76-75 win over Cal, just moments after they lost Moser in what was a visibly ugly injury.
The former McDonald’s All-American will have to adjust to being more of a focal point for opposing defenses, but considering he has soft hands, quick feet, a pretty consistent mid-range jumper, and is built like an ox, he seems up for the challenge.
Bennett currently leads all freshmen in scoring at an impressive 19.5 points per game, but we could see that number rise in the immediate future. Stay tuned.
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