In a game that honored the 40th of the Thomas & Mack Center, the UNLV Men’s Basketball team held off the Bulldogs 78-69 to make its overall record 11-9 and 4-4 in the Mountain West.
The Runnin’ Rebels were led by Kalib Boone, who racked up 21 points, four assists, and five rebounds.
“Kalib is one of the most efficient players in college basketball,” UNLV Head Coach Kevin Kruger said. “When his career is over, he’ll end up being one of the most efficient players ever… he’s on that level of efficiency, and getting him touches is important.”
Keylan Boone put up a double-double tallying up 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two assists.
As the game began, the Runnin’ Rebels got an early 10-0 lead with Louis Rodriguez scoring the first seven points for UNLV. The run would end on a 3-point play from Isaiah Hill to make it 10-3.
The two teams exchanged buckets midway through the first half, but the Runnin’ Rebels still held a dominant advantage of 20-9.
With 3:38 remaining in the half, the Runnin’ Rebels added to its lead with a Jackie Johnson III 3-pointer and two Keylan Boone buckets to extend the lead to 30-19.
With less than a minute left, the Bulldogs cut the lead to six points, but Keylan Boone restored the lead to nine off a 3-point shot, and the halftime score would stand at 37-28.
“The beginning of the first half and the end of the first half is kind of the cushion that we needed to get the win,” UNLV Head Coach Kevin Kruger said.
The second half began with a Hill 3-pointer, which Keylan Boone responded with a jump shot to make the score 39-31.
The Bulldogs cut the deficit to single digits with an Eduardo Andre dunk and shifted the momentum towards Fresno State with 16:23 left in regulation.
Xavier DuSell made it a one possession game scoring seven points in the Bulldogs’ following three possessions. A 3-point play followed up by a made free throw and a splash from beyond the arc all by DuSell cut the deficit to 44-41 with 14:10 left.
The Runnin’ Rebels would return its lead to nine in a small scoring run highlighted by makes by Kalib Boone at the line, but the Bulldogs brought the advantage to one off of free throw makes by Isaiah Pope and an Enoch Boakye dunk, making the lead 51-50 for the Runnin’ Rebels with 10:56 left.
UNLV fended off the Bulldogs comeback with an 8-0 run, featuring baskets made by Kalib Boone and Thomas Jr, putting the Runnin’ Rebels on top 59-50 with 7:14 in the contest.
The Rebels extended its lead to double digits with a dunk from Whaley and a mid-range jumper by Thomas Jr. with 5:28 left.
DuSell kept the game close late in the second half with a 3-pointer to make the score 63-57.
With 2:53 left, Brooklyn Hicks brought late-game energy to the offense drilling a 3-pointer to give the Runnin’ Rebels a 69-61 lead.
Fresno State was able to make it a two possession game within the final minute of play however the Rebels were able to close out the game with free throws to make the final score 78-69.
The Runnin’ Rebels are back in action on Feb. 3 to take on Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack at 5 p.m.
“I think being an older team, they understand how hard winning conference games is, and college basketball games for that matter,” Kruger said.