UNLV settles in for 77-65 win at San Jose State

Orlando Ramirez-USA Today
UNLV responds to San Jose State’s torrid start with an even hotter finish, giving Kevin Kruger and the Runnin’ Rebels a win they needed to have.

When San Jose State started Saturday’s game 8-8 from the field and 3-3 from behind the arc, it seemed like Tuesday’s nightmare against Air Force was going to repeat itself. Another team at the bottom of the Mountain West, shooting out of their mind to break Runnin’ Rebel hearts. 

Nope, not on Saturday.

UNLV was able to shut the Spartans down in the second half while also breaking their own scoring drought. The Runnin’ Rebels made their last 14 field goal attempts in a truly mind-blowing scoring display, in turn earning a double digit victory in a game that appeared to be the swan song for the Kruger era at halftime.

Likely coaching for his job at this point, another loss to a Mountain West bottom feeder may very well have put his time at UNLV on life support. His team wasn’t going to let that happen.

The same group of guys that surrounded their coach with affection following their upset win at Boise stepped up in the second half. They erased a seven point halftime deficit with ease by playing at a level that dwarfed their previous four or five halves of basketball. 

The main player in that second half rally was Keylan Boone. Boone had just four points at halftime, but exploded for 14 in the second half to give UNLV the consistent scoring option they needed to accompany DJ Thomas and Keylan’s brother Kalib, who rallied 8 points to help carry UNLV in the first half but was only able to add one in the second. 

Jackie Johnson III and Luis Rodriguez also contributed big three pointers during UNLV’s 14 shot rally to end to the game. UNLV only played eight guys, which was their tightest rotation of the season thus far. Given the injuries they are facing and the fact that conference tournament time in approaching, that could become a pattern.

UNLV pushed their record above .500 with the win, moving to 10-9 with a 3-4 record in Mountain West play. They’re back at home on Tuesday against Fresno State with tip-off set for 8 p.m.