Runnin’ Rebels start season with home win over Southern

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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 UNLV men’s basketball team opened its new season with a 66-56 victory against Southern University Monday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Runnin’ Rebels came into the game ready to perform defensively and did not disappoint and they forced Southern to commit 28 turnovers. However, offensively, the team is looking to improve its performance.

“There’s always room for improvement,” sophomore guard Keshon Gilbert said.

The defense was the saving grace for the Runnin’ Rebels, as they held the Jaguars’ offense in check. Offensively, UNLV made the most of its opportunities at the free throw line, making 32 of 38 attempts.

Keshon Gilbert, the sophomore guard, led the team with 13 points for the Runnin’ Rebels. Oklahoma transfer and fifth-year guard EJ Harkless finished with 11 points.

“I think we did great,” Harkless said, “I think it was a great game defensively.”

The team banked on multiple turnovers throughout the game, which helped them pull out the win against the Jaguars. The offseason buzz around the Runnin’ Rebels was their defensive ability and it didn’t disappoint.

“We probably wouldn’t have won that game without the 28 turnovers.” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “The defense saved us in that game.”

Offensively, Kruger said he knows the Runnin’ Rebels know that they have some work to do. He said the team is ready to go back and watch film, where they will be able to see mistakes and come back next game improved.

The Rebels are working on getting a more fluid offense that will work and gain balance with their solid defense. Kruger knows what he wants to see from the offense.

“We just gotta do a better job about being stubborn and creating for each other, and being stubborn about getting the shots we want,” he said.

After the match-up against the Jaguars, the team is looking forward to improving ways to create for each other during the game. The team showed their ability to split the load and work together through their scoring totals, however, now they are trying to create a balanced offense and defense for the rest of the season.

UNLV returns to the court Saturday to play Incarnate Word at 3 p.m. at The Thomas & Mack Center.

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