Runnin’ Rebels 2023-2024 season recap

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UNLV No. 5 Rob Whaley Jr. celebrates after scoring an and-one basket against University of Nevada Reno. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong).

The UNLV Men’s basketball team finished its season with a 21-13 overall record and 12-6 in

conference play. The Runnin’ Rebels had its winningest season in over a decade and had four players recognized as All-Mountain West Honors.

The Runnin’ Rebels finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference. With Thomas & Mack Center hosting the Mountain West Championship Tournament, the Rebels had home court advantage during the tournament.

Despite falling in the first round, the UNLV accepted an invitation to the National Invitational

Tournament (NIT) to continue its season.

The Runnin’ Rebels concluded the season with two wins in the NIT against Princeton and Boston College before losing to Seton Hall in the third round.

Boone Brothers Dominate

Keylan and Kalib Boone gave Rebel faithful a season to remember with countless clutch

victories and outstanding performances throughout the season.

The Boone brothers both transferred from Oklahoma State to play their final season in a scarlet and gray uniform.

Keylan Boone claimed All-Mountain West third team this season, along with averaging 12.9

points per game, 6.1 rebounds and tenth in the league with 2.1 3-pointers made per game.

Kalib Boone claimed an All-Mountain West honorable mention, along with averaging 11.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

The Boone brothers both dominated throughout tournament play. Keylan Boone had stellar performances against Princeton and Boston College, averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds through both games.

Kalib Boone shined against Boston College and Seton Hall, averaging 16 points and 5.5

rebounds throughout both games.

Born to be a Runnin’ Rebel

Dedan Thomas Jr. broke out onto the scene in his first season as a Runnin’ Rebel, earning

Second Team All-Mountain West and Co-Freshman of the Year honors while averaging 13.6

points and 5.1 assists per game.

Thomas skipped his senior year of high school to commit to UNLV while being ranked as the

No. 1 recruit in Las Vegas in 2024 by On3.

Thomas chose to stay home, following in his father’s legendary footsteps, Dedan Thomas Sr.,

who wore the scarlet and gray back in the 1990’s.

Thomas dazzled fans during conference play, scoring double digits in 15 out of 17 games against Mountain West teams.

Thomas gave Rebel fans memories to cherish forever with games against the No. 23. ranked

Colorado State Rams, scoring 23 points in a 66-60 victory. Thomas also stunning the No. 21 San Diego State Aztecs, scoring 19 points and a game winner in a 62-58 victory.

Thomas’s electric start to his Runnin’ Rebel career is a bright spot for the team’s future.

Non-Conference Struggles

The Runnin’ Rebels, in non-conference games, hit road bumps early on, losing its season opener to the Stetson Hatters 85-71 at Thomas & Mack and following up losses to the Richmond Spiders and Loyola Marymount Lions.

The Runnin’ Rebels also faced off against Florida State, eventually losing 83-75 in the Sunshine Slam but dominating No. 8 ranked Creighton Bluejays 79-64 at the Dollar Loan Center.

The Rebels finished off non-conference play above .500 with a 7-5 record with three straight wins to close out conference play.

Mountain West Conference Play

The Runnin’ Rebels finished No. 4  in the Mountain West with a 12-6 conference record.

The Rebels started off slow, losing four out of six games, including a 90-58 loss to the Air Force Falcons at home.

The Rebels bounced back, winning the next 10 of 12 games, including ranked wins over New

Mexico State, Colorado State, and San Diego State.

The Runnin’ Rebels stellar play led to a fourth-seeded finish in conference play, setting up a

first-round matchup against No. 5. San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship.

Tournament Play

Despite falling short in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament, the Runnin’ Rebels

accepted an invitation to the NIT, setting up a matchup against the No. 2 seed Prinston Tigers in the first round.

The Rebels battled through a tough road victory, 84-77, to set up a second-round matchup at home against the Boston College Eagles. The Rebels took control of the whole game, winning 79-70 to advance to the third round matchup against No. 1. Seton Hall Pirates.

Despite losing in the Round of 8 to the eventual NIT champions Seton Hall Pirates, the

Runnin’ Rebels made significant strides in elevating the program’s progression for the upcoming season.

Up Next

Recruits

UNLV has three signed commitments to join the Runnin’ Rebels for the 2024–2025 season.

Jeremiah “Bear” Cherry is a 6-foot-11 center out of New Mexico Junior College, averaging 11

points and 6.9 rebounds while playing 30 games as a freshman.

James Evans is a 6-6 wing out of West Ranch High School who is currently ranked as a top 150 player in the class of 2024.

Pape Diaye is a 7-foot center out of Red Rock Academy, averaging 13.3 points and 12.4

rebounds during his senior year of high school.

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