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FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Colorado State – Game 17

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (12-5 / 1-4) | Colorado State Rams (10-9 / 2-4)

Franchise Sports Media

 

The Runnin’ Rebels have now lost two games in a row after losing a hard-fought battle to the Colorado State Rams 82-81

 

UNLV vs Colorado State
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Head coach Kevin Kruger told reporters that Parquet is running and feeling less soreness. He also said they’ll trust Parquet’s judgment on his availability, “He’s a fifth-year senior. Of course, he knows his body better than anyone.”

UNLV’s starting lineup vs. Colorado State was Keshon Gilbert, Justin Webster, E.J. Harkless, Luis Rodriguez, and David Muoka. They are the same starters for all five conference games so far.

The Runnin’ Rebels opened up the game with three-point buckets from Webster and Rodriguez, as UNLV took an 11-3 over Colorado State. Webster’s three extended UNLV’s NCAA record 1,178 straight games with a made three-pointer.

However, Colorado State countered in a huge way, as they went on an 11-4 run to cut the early deficit down to one point. UNLV was ahead in the rebounding category at 9-3, while CSU had six fouls already but was also shooting 62.5% from the field.

Despite the solid start, the Rebels began to shoot themselves out of this one, as they were 2-8 from three and 6-20 from the field, causing the Rebels to fall behind Colorado State 24-19 in the first half.

Kruger began to experiment as UNLV’s offense fell off a cliff. He deployed Jordan McCabe, Jackie Johnson III, Harkless, Shane Nowell, and Victor Iwuakor. Though the gamble didn’t exactly work as the Rebels had a three-on-one fastbreak, Johnson threw it away, and UNLV turned it over, summing up UNLV’s first-half offense. The Rebels shot a horrible 28% against Colorado State.

To end the first half, Kruger called a timeout and drew up a play to get Webster open, and he knocked down a three just before the halftime buzzer.

 

At halftime, the score read Colorado State 35, UNLV 34. CSU was shooting 56.5% from the field. The Rebels struggled to knock down shots in the first half shooting 35% from the field and 35% from three. Webster led the squad in scoring with eight points.

 

UNLV vs Colorado State
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Harkless seemed to find his shot in the second half, as he drilled a contested three. He usually misses those, but we’ll take that any day of the week. Gilbert struggled offensively, but he got a lucky circus shot to go in. Harkless had his own highlight play on the next play as he made a reverse layup in transition, sidestepping a defender in the process.

Johnson had a tough stretch, as he was exploited on defense by big man James Moor, then on the offensive end, he was caught traveling. However, Harkless bailed him out on the next possession with a pull-up three, packaged with another three by Webster, and UNLV had a cushioned lead at 52-46 with 10:48 left in regulation.

Colorado State wasn’t going to let the Rebels off easy, though, as with back-to-back threes from Isaiah Stevens and John Tonje, the game was all tied up at 54-54. A brand new ball game. However, Kruger opted to sub Harkless out for a rest in the middle of an 8-0 run for CSU. Johnson seemed to redeem himself with a tough layup in traffic, but at this point, the defense was going to matter more, as CSU just scored right back with ease. UNLV is not known to win shootouts or outscore opponents. Unless the defense steps up, it’s going to be a long rest of the season.

Rodriguez stepped up to the plate as he rejected an inside shot from Patrick Cartier at the highest possible point. That isn’t sustainable, though, and it takes the whole unit to clamp down on a team. Webster isn’t exactly a weak link, but he found himself lost on defense, giving up an open three to Stevens.

Gilbert fought through the cold streak, initially missing a shot, but he followed it and snagged his own rebound, and scored the second chance points. The kid has an undeniable heart. Webster showed his heart by driving to the hoop and absorbing the contact, earning himself an and-1 opportunity.

UNLV took the lead back off a crazy defensive possession, with Iwuakor rejecting a shot and Rodriguez picking off a pass for a transition dunk. The Rebels now led 64-62 with just 44 seconds remaining.

CSU had two opportunities to either take the lead or tie the game. Both times they opted to take the lead, but both Stevens and Tonje missed their three-pointers. Stevens would cash in after UNLV made some free throws, but the Rebels nearly threw the game away as Stevens got a steal, but the refs ruled him out of bounds. Finally, however, CSU would have their hero step up, as Stevens caught the ball just past the halfcourt line and chucked up a shot from behind his head to tie the game and force overtime.

Harkless didn’t skip a beat in overtime, performing his signature spin jumper to take the early. Stevens was the hero, but he couldn’t shoulder the burden alone, and Cartier stepped up for him, scoring three buckets to keep the pressure on UNLV. Harkless took on that pressure, cashing in another turnaround jumper.

Stevens’ play in overtime was head-scratching, as he air-balled a mid-range jumper but got the ball back and sank a three. However, Stevens still got it done, sidestepping McCabe and drilling a three in his face to take the lead at 82-81 with just 3.4 seconds left. Stevens closed it out as Gilbert got careless, allowing Stevens to jump the passing lane and secure the steal. The final score read CSU 82 and UNLV 81.

 

Runnin’ Takeaways

 

UNLV vs Colorado State
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Harkless had 33 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. Webster had 15 points on 3-5 from three. Rodriguez chipped in 12 points on a questionable 3-13 from the field and 1-6 from three, along with five rebounds and four steals. The Rebels shot a terrible 39.1% from the field and 33.3% from three. 

Stevens erupted for 33 points on 8-16 from three, with four threes coming in the final minute of regulation and overtime, eight rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. Tonje had 12 points and five rebounds, Cartier had 10 points, and Jaylen Lake had 13 points and five assists.

Kruger told reporters after the game, “That one stings a little bit. A couple big shots. Much better intent from Wednesday’s game, Just keep working so the ball bounces in our direction.”

Kruger also said that UNLV didn’t consider fouling with a three-point lead and two seconds on the clock at the end of regulation, “We made him catch it going away from the hoop, he just somehow made the shot.”

 

Don’t forget to go out and support the Runnin’ RebelsClick here to get your UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tickets! 

 

The Runnin’ Rebels will now take on Utah State Tuesday, January 17th, at 6:00 pm PT. The game will be available on the MWN.

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-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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