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FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Wyoming – Game 24

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (16-8 / 5-7) | Wyoming Cowboys (7-16 / 2-9)

Franchise Sports Media

 

The Runnin’ Rebels got back on track as they defeated the Wyoming Cowboys 69-59, improving to 5-7 in MWC play.

 

UNLV vs Wyoming
Photo Credit Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

The Runnin’ Rebels got back into the win column as they defeated the Wyoming Cowboys 69-59 thanks to EJ Harkless’ 33 points, which tied his best scoring output this season. Harkless came into this game shooting 24.1% from three-point range (30-124), but he’s always been confident his shot will be there when he needs it. He told reporters postgame, “I’ve been in a real slump this whole year, so it’s only a matter of time before my percentage catches up to me,” He went for a season-high 5-8 from three against Wyoming.

Jordan McCabe returned to action. The senior guard missed the last two games due to a back injury. His availability was a boost for UNLV. However, McCabe struggled in his return, totaling just four points on 1-6 field goals and 1-3 from three.

Victor Iwuakor missed practice earlier in the week, and Kevin Kruger called it precautionary. The stat sheet would tell you that it may have been something more, as he logged the fewest amount of minutes of the starters, but Iwuakor was dealing with foul trouble all game and finished with four fouls total.

Kruger also said their performance vs. Fresno State was an “anomaly.” However, their performance in this game would say otherwise. The Rebels nabbed a win against a depleted Cowboys squad, but it wasn’t easy. UNLV struggled from the field as they shot 33.3% (17-51) overall and shot better from three 37% (10-27). Their saving grace was their effort from the free-throw line, as they shot 80.6% (25-31).

 

Wyoming was without their leading scorer Noah Reynolds, who is out for the remainder of the season with a concussion. Wyoming also lost three Pac-12 transfer players who are no longer with the program. Ethan Anderson, Max Agbonkpolo, and Jake Kyman left the team before game day.

 

All four of UNLV’s first field goals came from beyond the arc, with Harkless knocking down both of his attempts for an early six points. The team was just 4-15 overall, while Wyoming’s skeleton crew was 4-12. Harkless was melting the snow up in Laramie as he started the game 3-3 from three and led the game with nine points.

This was a weird game, though. UNLV was 6-23 from the field and couldn’t get a two-point bucket to fall. Wyoming was only playing seven players and still managed to stick around. It wasn’t until there were less than two minutes left in the first half that Keshon Gilbert finally ended the drought and made the first two-point field goal for the Runnin’ Rebels.

 

At halftime, the score read UNLV 25, Wyoming 24. UNLV led despite shooting 25.0% from the field, but they were 6-18 from three. They were outscored 14-4 in the paint. The Rebels held Wyoming’s make-shift crew to 36.0% with nine turnovers.

 

UNLV vs Wyoming
Photo Credit: Shantalle Demirjian/Franchise Sports Media

The fifth-year guard Harkless had nine points on 3-3 shooting from three. It was the first time he made three three-pointers in a game since November 18th against High Point.

Just when it looked like UNLV might’ve pulled away, Wyoming sprung an 8-2 run that forced Kruger to call a timeout.

Harkless now had 24 points, while UNLV’s next-highest scorer had just five. After a rough first 30 minutes, UNLV eventually put the game away. The final score was UNLV 69, Wyoming 59.

David Muoka told reporters that he believes playing hard with high energy will get him back on the court, and he had ample opportunity in this one. Muoka was +18 in 18 minutes; while he only totaled three points and three rebounds, the intangibles propelled him forward.

The big man remains UNLV’s best inside presence, as even if he’s not blocking shots, he’s altering them.

The Rebels benefited from Wyoming’s poor efforts, as UNLV held them to 20% (5-25) from three and 38.5% (20-52) from the field. Wyoming’s Hunter Maldonado still produced, though, as he totaled 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

 

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

 

The Runnin’ Rebels will continue their road trip and take on San Diego State Saturday, February 11th, at 1:00 pm PT. The game will be available on FOX.

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-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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