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October 22, 2012

Media tabs UNLV second

The UNLV men's basketball team was picked to finish second in the Mountain West in 2012-13 as the league released its preseason media poll and all-conference team on Monday.

Three Runnin' Rebel players earned recognition as junior forward Mike Moser was selected to the five-member preseason all-conference team, sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was named Preseason Co-Newcomer of the Year, and forward Anthony Bennett was given the nod for Preseason Freshman of the Year.

A panel comprised of conference media selected defending MW co-regular-season champion San Diego State as the preseason favorite to win the league this season. The Aztecs received 10 of 18 first-place votes and 153 points to just edge UNLV, which received the eight remaining first-place votes and 151 points. New Mexico is picked to finish third (122 points), followed by Colorado State (106) in fourth, MW newcomer Nevada, Reno (89) in fifth , Wyoming (70) in sixth, MW newcomer Fresno State (49) in seventh, Boise State (43) in eighth and Air Force (27) in ninth to round out the poll.

One senior and four juniors representing four institutions were chosen for the preseason all-conference team. Joining Moser were Nevada, Reno junior guard Deonte Burton, New Mexico junior guard Kendall Williams, San Diego State junior guard Jamaal Franklin and San Diego State senior guard Chase Tapley. Franklin was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year, while San Diego State sophomore forward Dwayne Polee II was the other recipient of the Co-Newcomer of the Year honor.

Moser earned Associated Press All-America honorable mention last season after being named the 2011-12 MW Newcomer of the Year. He was also a first-team all-conference selection and was named to the MW All-Defensive Team. He led the Runnin' Rebels in both scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg) last season and is the top returning rebounder in the MW this year. He shot 45 percent from the floor and led the league with 68 steals last season.

Dejean-Jones sat out the 2011-12 season after transferring to UNLV from USC. He played in 18 games as a freshman in 2010-11 for the Trojans, starting the first 10. He averaged nearly 21 minutes of action, while contributing 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He also recorded 28 assists and 20 steals.

Bennett was named a McDonald's High School All-American his senior year at Findlay College Prep in Henderson, Nev. He averaged 16.3 points and a school-record 10.1 rebounds last season, while helping Findlay to a 32-1 record and the championship of the National High School Invitational, earning Tournament MVP honors. He shot 62.6 percent from the field during his two seasons at Finlday, including 40 percent from 3-point range.

The Runnin' Rebels, who are ranked No. 19 in the Preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll, finished in third place (9-5) during last year's MW season. UNLV went 26-9 overall in head coach Dave Rice's first year at the helm of the program. The 26 wins during the 2011-12 campaign were the most victories in a season by a first-year head coach in UNLV men's basketball history.

UNLV played in its third straight NCAA Tournament and defeated three top-25 teams last year, including a win over then-No. 1 North Carolina, marking the program's first victory over the nation's top-ranked team in 22 years and the first time a Mountain West school has ever defeated the No. 1 team in both polls.

The Runnin' Rebels were ranked for 13 straight weeks (14 overall), climbing as high as No. 11 in the country last season. UNLV was 17-1 at the Thomas & Mack Center last year, which included a perfect 16-0 mark during the regular season, its first undefeated home regular season in 20 years.

The team was second in the nation in assists per game last year (17.6) and also second in the country in percentage of field goals assisted at 65.4 percent.

The Runnin' Rebels return six letterwinners, including starters Moser and Anthony Marshall. Also returning are seniors Justin Hawkins and Quintrell Thomas, along with junior Carlos Lopez-Sosa. The Runnin' Rebels have welcomed their six new scholarship players (Bennett, Daquan Cook, Savon Goodman, Demetris Morant, Katin Reinhardt and Roscoe Smith) to the roster for the 2012-13 season, plus Dejean-Jones and Khem Birch, who sat out the Spring 2012 semester after transferring from Pittsburgh. Birch must also sit out fall 2012 before becoming eligible to play in games in December.



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