Defense shines in UNLV Men’s Basketball home opener

Source: UNLV Athletics

After a heart breaking defeat in the Mountain West Tournament against Wyoming last season, the UNLV Men’s Basketball team was ready to start their revenge season in their home opener and defeated the Southern University Jaguars 66-56 in their home opener.

The first points of the season were made by guard Elijah Harkless at the 18 minute mark in the first half after he got in the paint and made a tough layup through contact. The refs gave him continuation and he made his free throw for an old fashioned three-point play.

It was evident that both teams were rusty as they weren’t shooting particularly well. The Rebels grabbed their biggest lead of the game after Harkless made two free throws to expand their lead to 17-6 at the 10 minute mark in the first half. The Jaguars weren’t going away as they kept matching the Rebels’ baskets.

After the first half, the Rebels were up 33-25. The Jaguars actually out shot the Rebels from the field and three-point line, but the free throw discrepancy was the biggest determining factor in the contest. The Rebels shot 13-14 from the charity stripe, while the Jaguars went 1-1.

Coming out of half, Harkless hit two free throws to put the Rebels back up double digits. The Jaguars proceeded to go on an 11-4 run to cut the Rebels’ lead to 39-36 with 16 minutes remaining, their smallest lead of the half. The Rebels responded with a 12-0 run to go up 51-35 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

The Rebels maintained their lead after the scoring run and at the eight minute mark, guard Jordan McCabe sunk two free throws to give them their biggest lead of the game at 63-46. After these free throws the Rebel offense went scoreless for nearly eight minutes, which allowed the Jaguars to go on a 10-0 run.

With two minutes to go, the Rebels lead was 63-57 . They were able to hold the Jaguars scoreless, and after a few free throws the Rebels would come out on top 66-56 and pick up their first win of the season. The UNLV defense, which forced 28 turnovers, and free throw shooting, going 32-38, were the key factors in the Rebels’ home opener win.

Key Performers

  • G Keshon Gilbert led the team with 13 points. He also added one rebound, three assists and a block.
  • G Elijah Harkless finished the night with 11 points, a game-high five blocks, and five rebounds.
  • G Luis Rodriguez added nine points and a game-high seven rebounds.

The Rebels play their next three games at home. Their next contest they will be hosting the Incarnate World Cardinals in their “Salute to Veterans” game on Nov. 12.

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