LAS VEGAS (AP)—UNLV had a scare in its lone exhibition game. The 18th-ranked Runnin’ Rebels were never worried in their season opener.
Anthony Bennett scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures and UNLV beat Northern Arizona 92-54 on Monday night.
Reserve Bryce Dejean-Jones added 15 points for the Runnin’ Rebels (1-0) while Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt had 14 points apiece and Savon Goodman added 11.
It was a huge turnaround for a team that survived a scare in its exhibition game, beating Dixie State 81-80 in overtime.
“This is a group that will play with a chip on its shoulders,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “I was pleased with the improvement from our exhibition game.”
The 92 points were the highest point total for the Runnin’ Rebels in a season-opener since 2005-06 when it opened with a 108-73 win over Long Beach State. UNLV, ranked in the preseason for the first time since 1992-93, extended its home winning streak to 19 regular-season games, which dates to the end of 2010-11.
“We knew the worst thing in the world for us was the way the Dixie State game went for them,” Northern Arizona coach Jack Murphy said. “I knew they would come out and put a wall on us and that’s what they did.”
UNLV opened the game with runs of 8-0 and 21-7 to control things from the outset. After the Lumberjacks erased the 14-point deficit with a 16-8 run over a nearly 6-minute stretch, the Rebels responded by closing the first half on a 16-0 run to open up a 45-23 lead. Northern Arizona was held scoreless over the final 4:45 of the first half.
Bennett led the charge during those early runs, scoring nine consecutive points in the first 5 minutes of the game, en route to 11 first-half points.
“Anthony works hard, and nobody has bigger expectations of Anthony than he does himself,” Rice said. “I think he got off to a good start (to the season) tonight.”
Bennett, Jones, Reinhardt and Goodman are all new to UNLV’s roster, and Marshall, a senior entering his fourth season with the Runnin’ Rebels was delighted with his new teammates’ performances in their first games.
“It was very special, to see the amount of time they put in and then get out there and do their thing,” Marshall said. “It was just very special.”
Said Bennett: “This game I got a lot of the jitters out and wanted to play how I can play. (And) once the fans get into it, we get into it.”
UNLV extended its NCAA Division I record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer. Since the 3-point field goal was adopted by the NCAA in 1986-87, UNLV has converted at least one in all 841 games played.
Dewayne Russell had 16 points for Northern Arizona (0-1).
UNLV opened the game with runs of 8-0 and 21-7 to control it from the outset. After the Lumberjacks erased the 14-point deficit with a 16-8 run over a nearly 6-minute stretch, the Rebels responded by closing the first half on a 16-0 run to take a 45-23 lead. Northern Arizona was held scoreless over the final 4:45 of the first half.
The Runnin’ Rebels hit 50 percent of their shots from the field (16 of 32) in the first half, including going 5 of 14 from beyond the 3-point line.
UNLV hit 33 of its 66 shots (.500), including 9 of 27 from beyond the arc.
The crowd of 18,187 was the largest ever for a home opener.