Returning to Southern California, the UNLV Rebels faced the USD Toreros this time around. The Rebels won, just like they had in their season’s first seven games. The Rebels’ unbeaten streak now stands at 8-0 after a convincing 95-78 victory over the Toreros.
The Rebels had a slow start to the game despite winning handily. In the opening six minutes of the first half, they only managed to score three points while trailing 5-3. But after the game was tied 12-12, the Rebels broke away. Following a Jackie Johnson III jumper, the Rebels went on a 21-2 run to take a 33-16 lead.
Head coach Kevin Kruger said the week-long layoff was something he was worried about, as his team hadn’t had such a long break yet this season.
“I thought they responded unbelievably well,” Kruger said. “When the guys get out there and adjust, they have shown to be pretty good.”
The Toreros cut the Rebels’ lead to 37-26 with three minutes remaining in the first half, giving the impression that they were closing in. The Rebels came back with a 12-2 run to lead 49-28 at the half.
During the first half, the Rebels shot 51% from the field and 43% from three-point range. And their defense limited the Toreros to 38% of their field goal attempts and 27% of their three point attempts.
As each team emerged from the half, they were trading buckets. But with 13 minutes remaining in the contest, guard Justin Webster’s successful free throws increased the Rebels’ lead to 69-43. This would allow the Rebels to go into cruise control for the rest of the game. After Webster made a three-pointer to give the Rebels an 80-49 advantage, they obtained their largest lead of the game.
The Rebels emptied their bench with three minutes left, which allowed the Toreros to inflate the final score. The Rebels won the game 95-78, but the game was uglier than the score indicated. Against the Toreros, 10 Rebels scored. Overall, the Rebels’ field goal percentage was 52% and their three-point percentage was an impressive 48%. Their offense put on a strong showing, scoring 38 bench points and 31 points on fast breaks.
Kruger said that the depth of this team will either make or break their season.
“When you can come in off the bench four or five minutes into the game when the teams are still figuring each other out, that’s key,” Kruger said. “That’s one of the things that I’m really excited about.”
- Guard Luis Rodriguez finished with a game-high 19 points. He also added five rebounds and one assist.
- Guard Elijah Harkless ended the night with 17 points, five assists, one rebounds, and one steal.
- Guard Justin Webster scored 16 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
On Dec. 7, the 8-0 Rebels will host the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. However, they will be hosting them at the Dollar Loan Center rather than taking the stage at the Thomas and Mack Arena.
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