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January 13, 2013WILL TO WIN - UNLV's overtime victory over Air Force won't go down as any type of signature win that the Runnin' Rebels can hang their hats on at the end of the year, but it may have been exactly what they were looking for in one regard.
In all their triumphs this year, UNLV didn't exactly have to make a play down the stretch to earn them. For the most part, especially if the game was tight, the Rebels hung on to win or coasted through a blowout.
That wasn't the case against the Falcons.
UNLV desperately needed big plays, both at the end of regulation and in overtime, and got them from Bryce Dejean-Jones.
And that may be the biggest positive that head coach Dave Rice can take away from this nail-biter. He may have found himself a guy that UNLV can put the ball in his hands late and feel confident that a play will be made.
After Anthony Bennett had missed two free throws to tie the game in regulation, Dejean-Jones was bumped driving to the hoop, setting up his first pressure packed shots. He calmly sunk them both.
In the overtime session, Dejean-Jones scored eight of his 18 points. All three of his field goals during the extra time came with the Rebels trailing when the ball went through the hoop.
It can be summed up with one word - clutch.
Dejean-Jones came to the Rebel program with a reputation of a scorer that isn't afraid of the big moment. He's shown glimpses of that throughout the year, but never quite like this.
It has taken a long time and a whole lot of searching but if UNLV found itself a clutch go-to guy in an ugly win, it was well worth it.
MOSER'S RETURN - Mike Moser hasn't had the season he was envisioning so far. Saturday was a nice way for him to start to get back on track.
The king of the double-double last year for the Rebels, Moser posted a much needed 14 point, 11 rebound effort in 40 minutes during his first start since injuring his elbow against California back in December.
During his absence, UNLV has struggled to find that high-energy player that brings a needed dimension to a sometimes methodical team. Moser can infuse what the Rebels have been lacking with his play.
He still doesn't look fully conditioned and still took some very difficult, ill-timed shots, but you could sense that the enthusiasm that he brought nearly every outing last year is starting to return.