UNLV fails test against Florida State at Sunshine Slam in 83-75 loss

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY
UNLV falls to Florida State 83-75 in their opening game of the Sunshine Slam tourney in Daytona Beach.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Runnin’ Rebs entered Monday’s Sunshine Slam opener with a chance to prove their mettle against a teetering ACC program in Leonard Hamilton’s Florida State Seminoles. Despite UNLV’s turbulent start to the season, they were just 3.5 point underdogs pre-game and the general attitude around the fanbase reflected the expectation of a win. However realistic it was.

Needless to say, UNLV didn’t win. They didn’t even cover the spread. Despite a few stubborn rallies led by star freshman Dedan Thomas Jr., the Rebels couldn’t overcome a fast Florida State start that was supplemented by a clear physical advantage. They lost 83-75, with Kalib Boone leading them in scoring with 15 points off the bench. Thomas Jr. added 13 points, six assists and six rebounds in an impressive performance. Florida State’s Jamir Watkins led all scorers with 19 in the win.

As one could have predicted after the Southern debacle, the talent on UNLV’s roster is simply not up to par with any of the handful of high quality opponents on their schedule in the coming month. Frankly, they might not even up to snuff in the Mountain West.

While much of that onus is on Kevin Kruger for seemingly not getting the best out of a highly-touted class of transfers and an elite freshman prospect in Thomas Jr., it’s become clear that this group is probably not all that it was cracked out to be. Keylan Boone of course would have been a huge boost in UNLV’s early losses, but his eligibility situation likely won’t be resolved until the season is in post-mortem anyway.

UNLV is slated to face the loser of the Colorado vs. Richmond game Tuesday at 3 p.m. PST. That game tipped off directly following UNLV vs. Florida State.