Runnin’ Rebels fall short in heartbreaking fashion against Aggies

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UNLV No. 15 Luis Rodriguez shoots a floater against Utah State. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press / DJ Cabanlong)

UNLV Men’s Basketball fell to the No. 20 ranked Utah State Aggies 87-86 in bizarre fashion with a 5-point play in the final 10 seconds of play to drop the Rebels to an overall record of 8-7, and 1-2 in conference play. 

Louis Rodriguez made two free throws to give UNLV a four point lead with 14 seconds remaining and in Utah State’s last possession Kalib Boone fouled Great Osobor while Darius Brown’s 3-point shot was in the air. 

Brown swished his shot from downtown and Osobor made both free throws to give the Aggies a 87-86 lead with just under nine seconds remaining. 

Dedan Thomas Jr. attempted a mid-range jumper for the win and hit the back of the rim resulting in an Aggies victory.

“Up four with 14 seconds left you’re going to win on most of those games,” UNLV Head Coach Kevin Kruger said.  “There’s nothing you can tell an athlete and a player after that.” 

Rodriguez led the way with 23 points in the loss, paired with six rebounds. Kaleb Boone was second in scoring, having 18 points, six rebounds and an assist. 

Rob Whaley Jr. contributed on both sides of the floor with 11 points, eight rebounds, and a block.

“[Whaley] has been great in the paint and been doing a great job defensively rebounding it playing really physically,” Kruger said.

The Running Rebels got an early lead with two shots from Thomas Jr. and two free throws from Justin Webster to build a 6-0 lead early in the contest. 

The Rebels dominated the boards early which helped them extend its lead to 10-4. At 14:07 in the first half, Jackie Johnson made the game’s first three-point shot to give the Rebels a 19-8 lead. 

The Aggies would cut the lead to single digits in the late stages of the first half off an Ian Martinez 3-pointer to make it 33-28 at the 8:24 mark. 

Martinez was a spark plug for the Aggies throughout the game knocking down six 3-pointers and finishing with 24 points.

The lead for UNLV would get as small as two points before a six-point run saw them establish a 39-31 lead. 

Josh Uduje splashed a 3-pointer to cut the deficit for Utah State to  39-38.  

The Rebels responded with a 5-0 run all scored by Rodriguez to give them a 43-38 lead late in the half. 

The Rebels finished the first half with two dunks from Whaley Jr. and Kalib Boone, to give UNLV the momentum and a 47-40 lead going into the half. 

The second half began with a Keylan Boone 3-pointer to give the Rebels its third double-digit lead of the game, 50-40. Keylan Boone then extended the lead to 12 with a layup. 

The Aggies and Rebels traded two 3-pointers each within the first five minutes of the second half and UNLV held onto its lead 64-54.

The Aggies cut the lead to 64-60 with a dunk from Martinez followed by two free throws from Osobor with 12:40 to go in regulation. 

The Rebels went on a five-point run highlighted by a Kalib Boone dunk in the late stages of the half to grow a 69-61 lead with 7:56 remaining.

The Aggies kept the game close with Osobor controlling the paint and cutting the Utah State deficit to one with 3:14 left in the game.

Keylan Boone then hit a huge shot from beyond the arc to re-establish a two-possession game with 3:01 left making score 81-77. 

Keylan Boone following the clutch 3-pointer, hit two free throws to make it a six-point game with under two minutes remaining.

Late in the game the Aggies kept possession of the ball after a replay review and Brown made a 3-pointer to make the score 83-80 with 1:35 remaining. 

Then, with eight seconds left, Brown hit another clutch 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one.

In addition to the shot by Brown, Kalib Boone was called for a foul attempting to get in position for the rebound leading to two free throws from Osobor.

Osobor made both of his free throws to seal the Aggies 87-86 victory.

Up Next

The Runnin’ Rebels are on the road to play the Boise State Broncos on Jan. 16 for its first game of a two game road trip. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. PST.

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