Runnin’ Rebels prepare matchup against top 25 ranked Dayton

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Guard Jordan McCabe pointing at the Runnin' Rebels bench after knocking down a three-pointer against San Jose State on Jan. 22. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

The defensive-orientated Runnin’ Rebels await major identity-implicating games this upcoming week against No. 24 ranked Dayton and High Point University.

With many new faces joining the team, UNLV patiently anticipates how these transfers fit in and prepare to find their role on a brand-new, remodeled team. Many of them are upperclassmen with NCAA Division-I experience.

So far, the new-look Runnin’ Rebels have fared well with wins in their first two games of the season. But it’s still early in the season, while we’ve gotten a glimpse of what this team looks like, there are still some questions.

The answer to those questions could become clearer after UNLV’s Tuesday night matchup against Dayton and Friday’s game against High Point.

Strengths for the Runnin’ Rebels

Two major strengths for this squad are its full court defense and intense energy from start to finish. 

The Runnin’ Rebels’ identity is their defensive presence, and it must be felt every minute for both games against Dayton and High Point. This strength must be utilized to pressure the opposition to make bad decisions and limit opportunities to score.

UNLV needs to bring the energy on every possession this week, especially with a home court advantage.

By playing with great consistent energy, the Runnin’ Rebels will find themselves performing at a higher level which ultimately sets the tone for the entire team and game.

Needed Improvements

On the offensive end, UNLV has to be more willing to be patient for the best shot on every possession. 

The ability to capitalize on every possession will be crucial, especially facing off against a nationally ranked team like Dayton. 

The Runnin’ Rebels cannot afford small mistakes on offense, but alleviating that will be benefited through great execution.

The offensive need for this week is to shoot better. Taking better shots will increase their shooting percentage. 

So is establishing an adequate shot rhythm such as working in close then extending the range as the game progresses.

Keys to victory

In order to go 2-0 on the week, UNLV needs to focus on its offensive production and ability to slow the opposing team’s offense. 

Offensively, the team as a whole must run its offense and refrain from abandoning the game plan. The team displayed great ability to make free throws, so the Runnin’ Rebels can look to be aggressive in attacking the hoop to both finish at the rim and get to the free throw line.

As a team that prides itself on being great on the defensive side, it is imperative that the Runnin’ Rebels show solid performances defensively throughout the week against Dayton and High Point. 

Both teams have shown great ability to score, and the defense will have an immense load to attempt and slow these high powered offenses down, but through great communication and pressure UNLV has the ability to slow them down. The slower the pace of the game the better.

UNLV announces signees

The program received great news in terms of early signing. Four-star recruit Brooklyn Hicks announced his signed commitment to UNLV on the first day of early signing. Hicks, a 6-foot-3-inch, 180-pound guard from Seattle, Washington, will be joining the program in 2023. 

Rob Whaley Jr., ranked nationally as a top-10 junior college prospect, will be entering next season as a junior. Whaley Jr. is a 6-foot-7-inch, 230-pound forward from Farmington, Utah.

“We are very excited,” head coach Kevin Kruger said in a release on the additions these signings will bring to the program in 2023-24.

Up Next

UNLV takes on Dayton on Tuesday at 8 p.m., and High Point on Friday at 7 p.m., at the Thomas and Mack Center. Both games will be broadcasted on UNLV’s student radio station, The Rebel HD2.

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