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Runnin’ Rebels run to their best start in 11 years

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are off to their best start in the past 11 years as they cruised to a 126-54 win over Life Pacific on Saturday, Nov. 27 inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

“It’s really important for us to get everyone that confidence,” sophomore guard Jackie Johnson III said. “Definitely a big confidence booster. We still want to stick to what we do in games like this.”

UNLV has a week off before heading to Southern California to play the University of San Diego on Saturday, Dec. 3. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Junior forward Karl Jones led the way for the Rebels in this one with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Jones played 18 minutes after having played eight minutes for the Rebels and logged two points and two rebounds.

“It was really fun watching Karl have that opportunity,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “20 points, 12 rebounds, watching him have fun out there because he deserves it. He’s been working everybody every day, so it was fun to go out there and see him have fun like that.”

Jones is a transfer from LA Southwest College and is one of the nine new faces on this UNLV roster this year.

“I was hot man,” Jones said. “I was on fire.”

UNLV set a season-high in assists, racking up 32 assists on 52 made field goals. Their previous high for assists this season was 17 against Incarnate Word.

“In a situation like that, having 32 assists on 52 field goals,” Kruger said. “I’m proud of them for getting good spacing, sharing the ball, and making plays for each other.”

After battling a foot injury before the season started, redshirt sophomore forward Isaiah Cottrell made his UNLV debut in this one. He finished the game with five points and two rebounds in nine minutes played.

Cottrell, formerly of West Virginia, played his high school ball at Bishop Gorman High School.

“Isaiah is going to be a big piece of this team going forward,” Kruger said. “He can do so many things. At 6’10”, 250, being able to move the way he does adds another element to this team that could be good for us.”

UNLV’s defense saved their best half for the second half in this one. After giving up 36 points in the opening 20 minutes of play, the Rebel defense only gave up 18 points in the second half and held Life Pacific to 17 percent shooting from the field in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Holding an opponent to 17 percent shooting from the field in a half is the lowest shooting percentage allowed by UNLV’s defense in a half so far this season.

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