BALL HAWKING - It isn't clear what Justin Hawkins pregame meal was on Thursday but it should start being a prerequisite for all the Runnin' Rebels before each game.
Hawkins, a senior, came into the game after UNLV had fallen into an 8-0 hole to start the game and immediately turned things around with his relentless style of defense. To be fair, Hawkins is always tenacious on the court but he seemed to be a bit more enthusiastic than usual.
The Cowboys had an easy time getting into their offensive sets and passing the ball around the court before Hawkins arrival. Wyoming notched only 40 more points the rest of the game after Hawkins was inserted at the near 15-minute mark of the first half.
The effort displayed by Hawkins accomplished two things. It seemed to infuse some more energy into his teammates, who followed Hawkins lead on the defensive end. It also gave Hawkins more playing time since head coach Dave Rice had no option but to leave him in the game when he was so effective. Hawkins finished second on the team by playing 30 minutes, only Anthony Marshall had more.
THOMAS SHINES - There's nobody on the Rebel roster easier to root for than fifth-year center Quintrell Thomas. So, when Thomas has a breakout game and is instrumental in capturing a much needed victory, it makes you feel really good for him.
Thomas, who has played hard all season but hasn't gotten much playing time since Khem Birch became eligible, got his due against the Pokes and their star, Leonard Washington. Arriving off the bench whenever Birch took his first break, Thomas immediately made his presence felt.
And the best part was that he was able to be successful on both ends against Washington. Thomas finished the game with 13 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Washington finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes. It took Thomas eight shots to reach 13, while taking Washington 13 to reach the same total.
It has been a recurring theme this season when Thomas gets into the game he gets a couple quick whistles called on him and he has to go right back to the bench. That, more than anything, has aided his inability to stay on the court.
On a night where he was sorely needed, Thomas held his ground but never picked up any of the cheap calls that have plagued him. He finished with only one foul.
BALANCED - The last time Anthony Marshall was on the Thomas & Mack floor, he took only one shot from the field and didn't score a point. Then, Marshall heads out on the road and scores 20+ points in two games to help carry the offensive load.
There was, most likely, a little too few and a little too much in both those instances. Trying to find a nice balance between the two would seem ideal for the Rebel offense.
He might have found the perfect recipe for balance. This was Marshall's most complete effort as a point guard, finishing with 12 points, nine assists, and two turnovers.
Marshall has to find a way to infuse himself in the scoring while keeping his teammates playing hard on the offensive end and not standing around watching him break down defenders at the top of the key.
If he could bottle up the performance against Wyoming, he would certainly do so because that was about as solid as you can ask him to perform.
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